Monday, December 29

Mourning Christmas

Matilda talked at length over lunch today how she feels about Christmas being over. I only managed to get the camera rolling for the last bit of it before she lost all her words.
video

Sunday, December 28

Santa Barbara Fun

To celebrate our long weekend with few obligations we took a day trip yesterday for a long overdue visit back to the Santa Barbara Zoo. It is a relatively small zoo, which is nice because M can walk to see all of it without tiring. She also got to test out her new digital camera from Grammy - it is a huge hit & very entertaining. We also got to see lots of great lemur action, which - with Matilda's current Madagascar movie fascination - was very appreciated. We took time for goofiness on the playground in some over-sized eggs. Tim did all sorts of contortions to get back out. While exploring the newly renovated playground at the zoo we were a bit perplexed by the big astro-turf hill. Then we witnessed how awesome it was for sliding if you sit on your zoo map! Behold the fun:


After the zoo we hit our favorite playground in Santa Barbara, the Shipwreck playground right near the beach and burnt some extra energy before dinner at our standard Italian restaurant, Pascucci's.

Saturday, December 27

Christmas Redux

I keep meaning to get to putting up pictures from Christmas but there are too many to tackle. Instead I will just keep enjoying our family time together and give you this first video of Christmas day that Tim posted:


He got lots of pictures up fast too which you can check out here.

Thursday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Matilda was not too sure about this Santa that we visited at the zoo two weekends ago (although still an improvement over last year). I have a feeling that this morning she would be a bit more kind to the old fella after the haul he brought her!

Reporting Live from Santa's Workshop

I think the elves are almost done and about to retire for the evening. We have officially survived our first late night assembling/wrapping frenzy. Tim tackled the Big Wheel while I took on the easel and headed the major wrapping operations. Matilda got a taste of the present-fever this evening with some great dress-up presents from Sarah & Gaurav. Here you can see her wearing a new ladybug costume while inspecting the cowsuit. 

Tuesday, December 23

Lunatic

Somehow I convinced myself that rather than making two more batches of the finicky biscotti I was attempting, I would make three other kinds of cookies and turn the biscotti bags (gifts for Tim's co-workers) into cookie samplers. Simple in theory. In actuality a very flour-y endeavor. 

Opening Christmas Cards


I figured you all deserve to see the ritual too!

Monday, December 22

Gingerbread House

Behold the amazing gingerbread house: I cannot claim much responsibility since Marie baked the gingerbread pieces, walked me through the assembly, contributed all the coolest decorations (i.e. not low brow candy like Nerds) and just generally provided inspiration for the whole process. The construction, with amazing paste-like frosting, was easier than I imagined and the house has yet to collapse. It does still smell delicious, however, and M & I are both counting down the days until we eat it - arbitrarily decided as Christmas Eve. Note Santa lurking around the back of the house with his gingerbread minions; M wanted him on the roof but he kept diving off. Matilda placed the door knob, and two M & Ms on the roof, otherwise she participated by sampling lots of candy. In the process she got her first taste of Good n' Plentys,  Nerds, licorice laces, gum drops and candy canes. 
Matilda says "I want that M & M right there." Also, you can go see pictures of the house Molly & Marie made. 

Saturday, December 20

Year of the Rat

So at our Dirty Santa party last night, Colin brought the gift that tops all other memorable gifts from the previous 9 years. And by memorable I don't mean the nice or really cool present (which is the goal of our Dirty Santa game) you walked away with after the many raucous rounds of present stealing. What we all remember and talk about for years are the terrible gifts: $15 worth of Top Ramen, a bag full of nickels, an enormous re-gifted griddle.

Last night, instead of a bottle of booze, or a nice cookie gift basket, or a good book, Colin wrapped up a live RAT. Granted the present came complete with a cage, water bottle, food and a little igloo for the nervous rodent to hide in, but still - it was a rat. My first thoughts were a panic about whether or not this was a disease-infested wild rat, but thankfully Colin is not that crazy and he splurged on a cute little pet store rat, not even a "feeder rat" he pointed out. Here is Gaurav realizing the gift he choose is shaped suspiciously like a cat carrier. If there were audio you would hear Colin emphatically saying, "Don't shake it, don't shake it!"
The audience reacts in complete hysterics. Many tears of laughter were shed. In the end, this cute little guy went back home with Colin & Gaurav left with the fancy chocolates that Colin won.Another fabulous game of Dirty Santa. Thanks Colin for the entertainment!

Friday, December 19

The 12 Days Go Too Fast

We are keeping super busy around here, and not just with the shopping/wrapping/shipping/card-writing chores. Yesterday we had loads of fun with Gigi visiting for the day while her parents got some stuff done. Matilda was thrilled to have another car seat & buddy in the back with her. I haven't moved the extra car seat back to Tim's car yet so all day today Matilda got a thrill with choosing which side to sit on.  Today we spent HOURS decorating gingerbread houses with Molly & Marie. I don't know the last time I made a gingerbread house and it was beyond fun. The girls did some candy placement but mostly supervised and tasted while Marie & I got carried away with design and execution of our masterpieces. I forgot my camera so there are no pictures to document the process but I'll get some of my finished product tomorrow and post them soon. 

Tomorrow is our rescheduled (postponed from last week due to illness) Christmas party which should be fun. You would think that I would be extra prepared with a clean house & snacks all ready what with the additional week of prep time but sadly that is not true. I think I'll procrastinate a bit more and leave the party prep for tomorrow so I can focus on getting a few more Christmas cards out tonight. 

Wednesday, December 17

Concerned Citizen

Tonight at Tim's company holiday party I went off to the bar to get him a glass of wine since I beat him through the buffet line. The bartender eyed my big pregnant belly as I ordered, asked what kind of red wine I preferred, and started pouring it BEFORE he asked nervously whether it was for me. I assured him that it was not and he was visibly relieved, stating, "I was scared for a minute there."

Tuesday, December 16

Happy Merry Christmas

Matilda is moderately disappointed each day as all the packages keep arriving and we stash them  away to be opened at Christmas. However, she recovers from her disappointment rapidly with all the Christmas cards. M will sit down each day with the pile we receive and methodically open them, claiming that each one says, "Happy Merry Christmas." After I read her the whole card and who it is from she will invariably claim, "That is so sweet." 

Monday, December 15

Newest Playmate

Matilda's buddy Gigi got a little sister this weekend! Sending out a big welcome to baby Catherine & congrats to the whole Herrman clan.  

Bossy

Right now Matilda is yelling: "Stop looking, Mama. Stop looking at the computer. Stop looking at it, Mama!" 

Saturday, December 13

Dear Santa

Since last year's visit with Santa went so poorly, we have been talking it up a bit this year to prep Matilda for a lap sit/photo session. Each time we explain that she can tell Santa what she would like for Christmas, and we have gotten a fun variety of responses:
  • Christmas lights - She mostly said this before we had our decorations up, not that she wouldn't love more I am sure. She can't seem to get enough of all the holiday decorations. Everywhere we go she is on the lookout and will exclaim, "Those are decorations!"
  • A new bed - Since her bed is much newer and way more comfortable than ours we were quite perplexed by this request. However, after a bit more prodding she explained that it was a "new bed for our new baby." M seems quite concerned that the new baby will be usurping her bed and has mentioned this particular gift on multiple occasions. 
  • Books - A very reasonable request, I am sure Santa can handle this one. 
  • Yogurt covered raisins - Matilda has an unnatural love for these things and we don't get them often. The part that kills me with this request is that we were already planning to put them in her stocking. It is like when you go buy the perfect gift for someone and then discover they've put on their Amazon wish list, robbing all your credit for the thoughtful gift. 

Thursday, December 11

Blue Lips

We were joking last night that Tim could bring home a dirty old shoe in a plastic bag and M would be over the moon. She exclaims, "Daddy brought you something!" and runs at him to investigate. Even if it is just a big pack of toilet paper she'll happily drive it around the living room and be pleased with the find. One of Tim's co-workers sent him home with a bunch of hand-me down coloring books which Matilda was quite thrilled with. Matilda is getting more accurate with her scribbling lately. Her endurance still needs some work though, I think this fish is still naked aside from his cold lips. 

The Klutzy Phase

I think I can say that I have officially entered into the awkward, breaking-stuff phase of my pregnancy. So far today I have:
  • Dropped half a canister of flour on the floor.
  • Burned my big belly on a fresh-from-the-oven cookie pan as I reached above it to put away clean dishes.
  • Given myself a goose egg on the head by bumping it on the car door while exiting. I am especially perplexed by this one since it is the same car I drive daily, and the door frame has not change size since yesterday. 
During my pregnancy with Matilda I broke countless things, glasses especially, due to this weird pregnancy clumsiness phenomenon. We'll see how the dishes survive this round. 

Tuesday, December 9

Parrot

I just realized that all afternoon when I thought Matilda was asking me what I was doing she was actually saying, "What do you think you're doing Mama?" I can't imagine where she heard that phrase. 

Fun Before Safety?

As we hauled out the Christmas lights to decorate our tree this weekend, Matilda was inspired to play doctor using the little lights. She would wave them at my ears like her pediatrician does with the otoscope and then move on to peer into my eyes, nose, and mouth. It was a fun bit of creative play that we didn't think to discourage. Now, however, I am paranoid as I constantly find her sidling up to the Christmas tree and shoving the colorful light bulbs dangerously close to her eardrum or eyeball. 

Sunday, December 7

Tree Trimmed

Got this item checked off the today list today with lots of help from a very excited little elf: 


Saturday, December 6

Excuse Me

Before I forget this memory, I wanted to share that last night at dinner Matilda discovered a new phrase: "Mama, stop talking." I guess I should be surprised she didn't learn how to interrupt conversations earlier. She used her new powerful phrase several times at dinner, and we each kept trying to redirect her to say, "Excuse me" or something similar. Amazingly, tonight at dinner she did it and came out with several excuse me, Mama and excuse me Daddys to take her turn in the conversation.   We'll see how long it lasts!

PS - Your regularly scheduled blogging will return once I resolve my severe case of Christmas-list-induced-paralysis. 

Thursday, December 4

Doll Play

Recently Matilda has been showing more and more interest in playing with her babydoll. M has been nursing baby, burping her, feeding her snacks, changing her diaper and dressing her up. I need to send Santa a note about bringing some baby doll clothes that fit because currently Matilda is using a way-too-big-sleeper that arrived from Grammy for our new baby. Yesterday Matilda dragged the idea of a sling from somewhere in her memory banks. She has carried baby around tied to her chest with a sweater or towel in a makeshift sling for two days now. I am thinking that tomorrow when Grandma Marge is here we need to whip up a real sling for her with some of the stashed fabric I have hoarded.

This phase has coincided nicely with all the talk of "our new baby." This may be false hope, but it is helping me feel like Matilda will cope alright with the new addition. From the pregnancy front there is little to report; we had our 20 week ultrasound Monday and all is going well. Matilda was very excited to see the ultrasound images of the baby kicking, chanted "Mama's healthy" throughout the procedure, and was happy to parrot the doctors report afterwards that "Our baby is perfect!" I am feeling good and very thankful that we have twenty weeks to go. Hopefully they will go a bit slower than the last 20.


Tuesday, December 2

Mini Skirt

I knew this dress was getting small (size 18 months), but didn't realize quite how ridiculous it looked until I was browsing through photos from the day today. Regardless, Matilda was really working the look - strutting her stuff down Hollywood Boulevard with too much thigh showing. 

Sunday, November 30

Christmasy-iest Place on Earth

To cap off our holiday weekend with a bang we went to Disneyland today complements of Adam & Alwyn. When we first moved to Southern California I remember feeling like Disneyland was one of the only places that felt Christmasy to me, just due to the sheer volume of decorations. I think I have adjusted slightly over the years and can now manage to get into the holiday spirit regardless of the 70 degree weather. Still, it was a good way to kick us into December and high gear for the Christmas season.  As expected, M had a great time. Despite the huge crowds we actually all managed to have fun, somehow avoiding the long lines and hitting lots of rides and attractions with little waiting. 

Matilda clutches her gingerbread man as we pose by the enormous tree. 
I think M would be content to just ride the carousel all day. 

In all our visits, Tim and I had always missed the Dumbo ride so it was a first for the whole family. Great shot Adam!

Saturday, November 29

Pre-Dinner Cocktail

Tonight as I did my wifely duty (i.e. made Tim an Old Fashioned), Matilda was insistent that she needed a cocktail too. I made her a "kids cocktail" complete with maraschino cherry, orange slice, sparkling water and pomegranate-blueberry juice. M was quite pleased and the two of them sat at "the bar" and kept me company while I got dinner going. After interrogating me about the contents of each drink M claimed I made Tim's whiskey with a whisk - which sent Tim & I into hysterics. Because she got such a good response she then spent the next half hour telling us about the whiskey and the whisk. 

Friday, November 28

Let it Begin

Matilda started her theater going-career today, with her first movie outing. We have been wanting to take her to the theater for a while now but could never decide on what film was right as her FIRST film. Nothing seemed significant enough so we finally gave up and just tried Bolt today. Matilda got a little freaked by one of the LOUD action scenes in the beginning and we thought we might have to leave, but she hung in there and watched the whole thing. She didn't appear to enjoy the film too much during the movie, but has talked fondly of it the remainder of today. When we asked her what her favorite part was her first response was seeing Mike & Sully (from Monster, Inc. - which she has never seen - during the trailers). Hopefully she'll warm up to movie going more because I thought it was great fun to go to a movie as a family. 

Eagerly awaiting her popcorn. 
M & Daddy wait for the show to start. 

Thursday, November 27

Thanksgiving Epilogue

Anthony & Elissa pulled together a spectacular feast and everything was amazing. I think my favorite dish of the night might have been the Baked Brie with Apple Compote that Anthony made, if forced to choose. The walnut-blue cheese-cranberry tart turned out really yummy, although not so pretty. Somehow the tart sides were not tall enough so the custard filling covered the top edges. I think I will have to spread the pastry thinner next time across the bottom for taller sides, and I might add a bit more cranberries too.  

To finish off a perfect Thanksgiving day, we counted in Turkey (not Turkish) to blow out the lights tonight at bedtime. And instead of saying "Good night, Mama" Matilda said "Gobble, Gobble Mama!"

Happy Thanksgiving



To get into the spirit this week we did lots of turkey-day related crafts.

Pine cone turkey:

Turkey cards, I forgot to take pictures after I wrote "gobble gobble" on them:

Turkey with pilgrim hat:

Turkey with Indian headdress:

Wednesday, November 26

Rainy Day Entertainment

Matilda's rain boots are finally seeing some action here in dry So Cal. M was more than pleased to go out in search of puddles this morning. 

As far as my rainy day entertainment goes, I recorded every "language" request for Matilda's chomps at lunch time. You know, just for my own amusement, and possibly yours. Generally the "1-2-3-chomp" game is rather infrequent during any given meal. However, with the new discovery of animal languages Matilda asked me to count down for most of her bites at lunch. 

For the record:
  • Squirrel
  • Parakeet (This was confusing since I initially thought she said pancake and was afraid we were venturing into the territory of made up language for inanimate objects. As though that is worse than made up squirrel language.) 
  • Dog
  • Spanish
  • Dog
  • Dog (Murphy specifically)
  • Dog (Cassidy specifically)
  • Dog (Ricky specifically)
  • French twice in a row
  • Parrot (Oakie specifically)
  • Squirrel
  • French
  • Squirrel
  • Spanish
  • German twice in a row
  • French

Tuesday, November 25

C-3PO

Matilda has been increasingly interested in languages lately and has really stepped up her game with learning Spanish words. Everyday she is adding new words and phrases. For a solid week now the Spanish dictionary has been sitting out on our kitchen table because each time I try to shelve it she comes up with another word query that requires research. Besides being so generally exciting  and amazing to witness, it is a bit intimidating since I feel my Spanish skills can't keep up with her pace for long. 

On a related note, we have long played the "1-2-3-Chomp!" game in order to get Matilda re-interested in eating a meal when distracted. Lately she's expanded the game and wants us to count in other languages leading up to her bites. We started with Spanish, and then eventually branched out to German and French, but last night Tim was feeling crazy and decided to count in "Squirrel." Matilda was immediately smitten and now only wants us to count in Squirrel, "chitter chitter, chat, chitter." It is funny for sure, but I am quite sure that being bilingual in English and Squirrel will not land admission to any of the top preschools. 

Monday, November 24

Tim's Christmas List

Tim has sent me several emails recently featuring videos of his new favorite animal, the chicken. I think this bird might have replaced a bulldog as his fantasy pet. He's even been reading up on raising backyard chickens in suburbia. I am sure our apartment building manager wouldn't mind some fresh eggs in exchange for the occasional chicken scrabble in the back patio. Looks like Tim's stocking might be peeping this year!



Sunday, November 23

Onesies


We had a huge batch of new babies born to friends around here in September-October so I started cranking out these customized onesies. I found the idea, along with instructions, a long time ago on a crafting website and bookmarked it for whenever I finally got around to attempting for myself. They were super easy to make and very satisfying. You can even see Nina here modeling hers, and cousin Joshua here. As I was making them I got all inspired for lots of future projects: custom shirts for T, modifying generic cheapie clothes for M, etc. I think once I wade through the Christmas sewing I might get back to these rewarding quickie projects. 

Saturday, November 22

M's Grocery List

Tonight I sat down to make our menu for the week and grocery list in preparation for our last farmers market visit before Thanksgiving. Matilda wanted to make her own list so I set her up with a pen and paper to sit beside me. As she doodled on the sheet, M dictated to me the things she was writing on her list:
  • artichokes
  • tortellini soup (with more artichokes)
  • sparkling water
  • greens (meaning sauteed swiss chard, collards or kale)
  • beets
Sounds like Matilda plans to eat all right this week. As far as Thanksgiving goes, we somehow got out of cooking for the fifth year straight. While I actually really like to cook Thanksgiving with all the delicious sides, I am not complaining at all. We wrangled an invitation to Anthony & Elissa's for dinner and I convinced them I should bring cranberry sauce, a walnut-cranberry-blue cheese tart, and roasted brussel sprouts so I can get my fill of holiday cooking in. 

Friday, November 21

Ladybug

This morning Matilda wanted to wear her ladybug shirt. At the moment I had completely forgotten this ladybug shirt, and convinced her that she didn't have one. Instead we came up with this outfit:
All through lunch she claimed to be eating aphids and has only channelled the grouchy ladybug once or twice today. 

Thursday, November 20

Old McDonald's

Last night we took Uncle Gordie (back in town briefly for a conference) to the oldest operating McDonald's in the world. We had eaten dinner elsewhere, so it was just a dessert trip and Matilda was inexplicably wound up, even before the treats. M hadn't really been to a McDonald's before (only eaten a breakfast sandwich or two in airports over the years). She 's been talking about it today, calling it Old MacDonald's, a bit mixed up with the familiar barnyard song. I can understand her confusion, though, seeing as how it was an old McDonald's.

Uncle Gordie buys a shake, cookie & apple pie at the walk-up window. Matilda spins in anticipation. Checking out the memorabilia in the restaurant's museum. My favorite thing was the big wooden doors carved with the golden arches that originally were at the Hamburger University (I only have terrible pictures of them). Waiting around in front of the windows while Uncle Gordie ordered for us:


Matilda in high gear inside the museum:

Wednesday, November 19

Return of Wonder Woman

Matilda has had a renewed interest in her Halloween costume the past few days and has worn parts of it out for all our recent outings.

Headed to the library for story hour: 
Off to the post office: 
"Flying" on the swings at the playground this morning:

Tuesday, November 18

A Creative Exercise in Patience

Today we did some painting for a Thanksgiving craft project. Matilda will usually last 5 minutes painting with a brush before she has to plunge her hands into the paint. The rest of the painting session then consists of her repeatedly dipping her hands into the paint, rubbing them back and forth to fully experience the texture on her fingers, repeating the hand-in-paint-plunge, with the occasional handprint/smear made on her paper.

Dipping:
 Lathering:
And repeat: 
Usually I let M follow her creative process more while painting. Her handprint technique always results in smearing all the paint colors together in the center of the paper until it is a uniform color and the paper is about to rip from being so soaked with paint. I am not sure why I expected today to be any different, but I was trying to encourage her to fill up the paper with color since I wanted to then cut the painted pages up for another purpose. In the end, the final product came out really nice so I feel bad for being so frustrated with M the whole time we were painting. Next painting session, no over-direction, I promise, and endless smearing handprints are fine.  

Monday, November 17

Smoky Days

The smoky air was better today and we actually ventured outside a few times, but yesterday was the worst air day I can ever remember here. Sunday morning I sent Tim off to the farmers market by himself to avoid the outdoor time for M & I, instead we went to do the indoor grocery shopping. Tim came home verifying how awful it was being outdoors and reported that he saw lots of people at market wearing face masks! In order to stay entertained indoors for the rest of the day we decided to finally venture over to LACMA after years of not visiting. The museum has a great program that allows all kids under 18 in for free, along with one free accompanying adult per visit, and so we were long overdue to take M there. It was a fun visit and encouraged me to go back for more free visits on quiet weekdays (especially before the Vanity Fair portraits exhibit closes).Matilda and Tim look for some caterpillars and wasps in a still life. The bow in Matilda's hair is from a bag of caramels Aunt Lori got us. M has claimed it for her own and wants it in her hair daily now.  Matilda is obsessed with all things Wizard of Oz lately. We listen to the soundtrack many times daily and it is the only bedtime story she's requested for a week or two. The banner above us in this photo was repeated throughout the museum advertising specific exhibits. M claimed the woman with black lace on her face was the Wicked Witch of the West and the Portrait of a Woman looked like Glinda the Good Witch. 

Sunday, November 16

Snowman Milk

This morning at the grocery store I was shocked to find so many kinds of flavored eggnog. I am a huge eggnog fan and do not need extra flavor varieties to tempt me into one more carton. Usually I can hold out until after Thanksgiving before I crumble to the holiday pressure and buy a carton of eggnog. However, this morning I had many weak moments at the store and bought several of frivolous things. As I picked up a carton (regular flavor but the light version - as if it makes a difference with eggnog), Matilda declared "Snowman Milk!" We somehow got through today without drinking any but for sure tomorrow Matilda will have her first taste of this holiday nectar.