Friday, December 31

Home Safely, with Gideon in Tow

Our trip home was a bit exciting with lots of rescue vehicles in attendance for the landings (questionable landing gear on the 1st flight and ill passenger on the 2nd) and a good sprint through the terminal to just barely make our connection. Amazingly, our bags made the quick switch in NYC also so we are ringing in the New Year tonight back in LA with piles of luggage and dirty laundry and new toys littering the entire apartment. The kids each took naps on the long leg after so many late nights of partying at home with the family (and pugs).
Matilda also spent a lot of the flights watching the awesome complementary live TV that Jetblue offers. Tim & I also watched a bit too much of these abused animal/dog warden/reality show programs on Animal Planet. It was kind of mesmerizing and neither of us could stop; although the emaciated horses did put me over the top and I switched to Jersey Shore after that. Another kind of train wreck I had never seen.
One of Matilda's Christmas presents from Uncle Dan was a plastic bug jar with a magnifying glass-lid. She was thrilled with it as soon as she opened the present and immediately wanted to find a bug to try it out. In the dead of winter bugs aren't terribly easy to come by in NY, but thankfully Dan had feeder crickets for his pet lizard and quickly fulfilled her request. She spent Christmas night tromping around with her favorite presents of the day: a princess dress accessorized with loud wooden clogs and her cricket jar. In the past week we've not only managed to keep the cricket alive, but we've learned some things about her:
1. Gideon is a girl name so she must be a girl cricket. (Or so says Matilda.)
2. Gideon prefers spinach to italian parsley or kale.
3. Gideon goes through a TSA screening easier than you or me.

All week long we have been stressing out about what to do with the beloved cricket. In the end, we decided to just try and bring it home and see what happened. We smuggled the cricket jar in Matilda's new Toto basket purse (thanks Aunt Gia!) and much to my relief no one said anything about the live cargo at security screening. Now I just need to work on my "all things die" speech while we see how long this pet experiment will last. Only a few more hours and I will at least be able to put 2010-2011 on Gideon's headstone, which looks pretty good for a cricket I think!

Thursday, December 30

Headed Home

We've managed to pack up the massive Christmas booty and are headed to the airport in just a few hours. After holding for 45 minutes today, Jetblue assured me that our flights through NYC will be fine. They did offer to rebook us but I declined since the first available flight was Jan 4! Let's hope it all goes smoothly. Just checking our flight status before bed, I realized that our connection time is way shorter than I thought. Maybe we'll make it to the ball drop in Time Square after all!

Wednesday, December 29

Snow Snacks

Turns out these critters much prefer molasses biscuits to snow as their treats. Matilda is happy because that leaves her more snow to eat.

Date Night, Vegetarian Style

We farmed out childcare tonight (one child for each set of grandparents in town) and snuck off for our traditional Ithaca night out at Moosewood. It was a lovely evening with local wine, delicious food, a stop at the old (new) movie theater for popcorn, and even a photo op in front of our favorite local wedding location. When we got back to dad's house Porter greeted us happily and immediately inquired after Matilda, who was staying at Grammy's for a sleep-over. It was so cute to see him so concerned for her.

Tuesday, December 28

Crawdads and Goofy Faces

The 6 hour drive today somehow went smoothly, despite the fact that neither kids slept for much of it. It was great to see Tim's grandma and uncle after so long and they were all really happy to see the kids. Porter has learned how to pose nicely for a family portrait.
This was a bit better.
After the long day of driving we went to dinner at Tim's mom and brother's place and were treated to a special exhibit of his creek-pet-experiment. Matilda was so concerned that these guys were going to pinch someone. She was very screamy.
This was not today, but is about how I am feeling now.
Good night. Time to rest up for some snow fun tomorrow, quick before this trip is over.

Monday, December 27

A Taste of Winter Driving

We didn't get hit as bad as some places for sure, but I felt like I got my first taste of crummy snow driving today. It was yucky enough that we decided to wait out the night and head to visit Tim's grandma tomorrow, instead of tonight. Hopefully the roads will be clearer and it will have been the right choice, because it'll be a long day on the road for the poor kids! The bright side is we still have 4 days till we fly through NYC so hopefully the airports will get caught up from their big awful closures and delays.

Sunday, December 26

Snow Fun

There are lots of ways to have fun in the snowy weather. We've been exploring them all.

Snow eating is at the top of Matilda's list of fun.
Serious concentration on something.
Cracking up and playing chase in the back of a mower-hauling-trailer thing. Sledding in a dress California girl? Why not. Matilda already knew she liked sledding: Porter now knows that he's is a fan also.Icicles are almost as delicious as snow.
Looks like we may have more of the powdery cold stuff when we get up tomorrow!

Christmas Eve

We are settled down by the fire tonight as the winds whip outside. We aren't getting as much snow as is hitting down-state, but it is crazy cold and windy out there. 6 degrees last I checked but I don't think I need to go out and look again!

Here are some pics from our Christmas celebrations with Tim's mom. Porter got a little toy hippo that he wanted to feed snacks to. Since Porter was really the hungry one, it quickly morphed into Porter eating snacks from the hippo's mouth. Weird. Safety first when opening presents. Hopefully this gear will save on some skinned elbows and knees too as our gal has gotten super fast on the scooter.
Porter models my new rain boots. With some wool socks they have been working shockingly well as winter boots, too!

Friday, December 24

The Elves are Getting Better at This!

Santa finished in record time this year, with everything wrapped and laid out by 11pm. That is hours before the last two years. It would have been even sooner but we had to stop and settle Porter back to sleep after a big dramatic belly flop onto the hardwood floor from his cot. That boy is the most acrobatic sleep ever.

I am so excited for tomorrow morning to see the kids discover their surprises. The past few days have been a blur of fun family time with big meals, cookie baking, sledding and memory making. Hope you are all enjoying the same. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22

My Old Man

To celebrate my dad's big birthday tonight we stuffed
ourselves on Dinosaur BBQ. Yum!
Happy Birthday Dad!

Tuesday, December 21

Rochester Fun

Matilda got an Oz filled day checking out all the awesome decorations Brian and Gia have to decorate the new baby nursery. Gia got out her Madame Alexander Wizard of Oz dolls and Matilda was in love. She would have spent all day gazing at them and examining their details but we put them away quicker than she liked, at Porters urging.
We spent a lot of time test driving the new toys for baby Rumsey (arriving in t-minus 38 days). Porter was particularly enamored with this spinning sitting activity thing and spent a lot of the day driving it around. He's clearly beyond the weight limit and would muscle the whole thing clear across a room. We also spent a fair amount of time outside, some of us in party dresses, throwing snowballs and harvesting icicles.
In case you need some ketchup, come to Brian's house. He has the largest bottle known to man. I think it was supersized to match the outrageous garbage plates we had for dinner. Porter's was so satiating that he fell asleep in the high chair.
To make the snow even more appealing, we made Matilda a fake-o snowcone with syrup for dessert. She was beyond thrilled.

Monday, December 20

Picturesque Christmas Shopping

We survived our very sleep-deprived trip to NY yesterday and were rewarded with 12 hours of sleep last night, and today with a perfect little afternoon shopping on the Commons. We let Santa go a bit overboard at the great kid toy stores there, had delicious warm soup from CTB, tried to keep the kids from eating too much dirty snow, and topped it all off with hot chocolate.

Sunday, December 19


Here's Matilda modeling two new Christmas presents (thanks to S,G & S and the GA clan). She was in heaven today wearing these two big fluffy skirts, which combined, were quite the force to be reckoned with. At one point I thought I might have to undress her in order to buckle the car seat! But they made a very fancy site popping out from between her rain boots and rain coat as we splashed along on our errands.

Christmas Hedgehogs & Insomnia

This little guy belong in Meyriez I think with my gal Frusl.

Also, it is 2:50 a.m. and Porter has, inexplicably, not gone to bed. We have tried every last trick we know (sparing a glass of bourbon for the child) and he's just not having it. He's perfectly happy as long as we are playing. We leave for the airport in under 2 hrs now. We might as well just pretend we took the red eye. I can't be bothered to even figure out why this whole damned post is underlined and I can't get rid of it.

Update to add: Moments after I published that first bit I was finally successful at getting his to sleep. Now the questions is, is it worth it to go to sleep for 1 hour? It seems like I'll just feel worse when I have to get back up.

Saturday, December 18

All Packed Up

The suitcases are full, we must be ready.

Thursday, December 16

Today's Fun: Get Glittery

We finally got around to making some Christmas ornaments today, after the pine cones were sitting on our patio for 2ish weeks. I mixed together some white paint and glue to make fake snow we could paint on the cones. Then I let the kids go totally crazy with glitter.
Porter was really into the project and seems to have much more endurance for crafty projects than his sister does.
Just about everything in our whole house is just a little bit sparklier now. Also, I wonder if I need to notify the diaper service to please be prepared for some glittery poop in the near future? You know, just so no one is too alarmed.

Wednesday, December 15

Emergency Plan: Warmth

So as I have been talking to all our family in NY making plans for the holidays I am getting an overwhelming message of COLD. In addition to digging out the gloves and coats and tights, today I came across this recipe for a delicious sounding hot drink: Hot Gingered Old Fashion. With orange peel, ginger, maple syrup, rum AND bourbon this drink seemed like a sure-fire hit. Tim & I tried it out tonight and I think it will do for warming bellies after a few sledding runs.

Tuesday, December 14

Sunny Girl

Her teachers say she always has a smile on her face.

Monday, December 13

Health Alert

Those are two words you do not want to see in the subject line of your preschool emails. I am always itchy afterwards, regardless of how certain I am my household has not contracted lice/pinworm/chicken pox/pink eye.

Sunday, December 12

Late Nights

The kids have been up crazy late the past two nights and as a result Porter has slept in past 9 for two days in a row. Tim has, very generously, gotten up with Matilda which means that I too, have slept in past 9. Amazing, wonderful, indescribable. The only problem is that we are shifting their schedules the wrong way for our East Coast trip next week.

Saturday, December 11

Holiday Porter

While shopping at Costco for our Dirty Santa party tonight I talked myself into an unreasonable amount of Samuel Adams beer. You can see why:
I fear for the strength of our refrigerator shelves right now! Thankfully the masses will arrive soon and help relieve the weight.

Friday, December 10

Candy Bonanza

We seem to have survived the sugar-induced madness that followed our fun house-decorating session, barely. Matilda was very helpful in laying out all the candy before her friends arrived. At a rate of about 10x/second she would ask, "Can I eat this? Can I try just this one? How about one of these?"Once we got rolling I tried to advocate a one-for-the-house-one-for-the-mouth policy, but even that was asking a bit too much. In the end, the houses did end up with some candy on them. Here are the gals proudly showing off their final results.Porter napped through the main event and woke up a bit confused with a houseful of treats and kids. Matilda claims this stack of broken pieces of graham cracker is a ladder to climb onto the roof. I think it looks kind of like a big junk pile in the front yard of some really trashy house.

Tomorrow's Agenda

Matilda and several school friends will run careful studies to see just how many pounds of candy it takes to collapse these puppies:

Thursday, December 9

Questionable Curriculum

Today Matilda was telling me how they have been talking about the holidays at school this week. She went on to explain how she learned about Hanukkah yesterday. She described how with Hanukkah you have to light lots of candles, which is really nice because then Santa can see really well to put all the presents out. While there is more than room for someone to be offended by this twisted view, I am certain this was not the explanation she received. I love the crazy logic she comes up with, bending things to fit her memory and experience. I just worry about the safety of leaving candles burning all night.

Wednesday, December 8

Muddy Cave Visit

One of Matilda's buddies had never been to the Bat Cave and wanted an introduction. It rained the day before our hike so there was the bonus attraction of mud. Who needs an actual playground when you can make your own slide?
Of course there are risks; your jeans may never recover.
Muddy hands and happy smiles.
Hanging out in the entrance of the cave.
Everyone was pretty thrilled with the messy fun and this huge puddle lake was almost full of rocks by the time we left.

Monday, December 6

Bwak Bwak

What goes on while I am at work:
Chicken Love; super duper fun.

Saturday, December 4

Annual Neighborhood Holiday Fest & other fun

We had a holiday-action packed day today that included obtaining a tree, taking hundreds of photos in an effort to get one decent one for the holiday cards, a quick present-scouting zoo stop-by, and actual festive activities at the neighborhood festival. The photo session felt torturous in the moment and involved lots of M&M bribes but I think we managed to get a decent shot. Considering it is only December 4th, there is hope we'll get cards out before Christmas this year, unlike 2009.

We met up with Stella & co. in the neighborhood for some window shopping.
The kids, amazingly, all sat still for the entire puppet show. I think the little baggie of popcorn aided greatly in motivating them to sit still. As Porter's bag was getting low he started making eyes at a newly arrived boy with a fuller bag of popcorn. Thankfully Sarah managed to redirect Porter before he actually jammed his hand in the unsuspecting boys bag.
Matilda had her super-big-happy smile on when we rode the open-top trolley with Santa around the hood. Porter was just stunned by it all. I am not sure if he was more affected by the fantastic view of traffic, or the large man in a red suit ringing bells and yelling out greetings for the whole ride.
I think I figured out where Porter gets the eyes-closed trait from. Oops.

Friday, December 3

Sewing Bender

Matilda joined me sewing tonight working on a stitching up a felt ornament while I was busy with Christmas projects. She would get caught up every so often and need me to untangle her thread or re-thread the needle. But then she needed her needle threaded again and declined my assistance and she did it herself! I had no idea she could thread a needle. (Maybe preschool has a secret sweatshop room in the back.) It was a very proud moment for me; my little gal sitting beside me and patiently working on her own sewing task. She declared the green and purple felt star will be Porter's special ornament and we had to start speaking in hushed tones as it is a Christmas surprise.

Thursday, December 2

Exhibit B

Further evidence of Porter's latest picture face.

Wednesday, December 1

Tree Lighting Ceremony

To kick the season off we went to a super fun tree lighting ceremony complete with eggnog (Porter drank 2 glasses!), hot cider (Matilda drank 1 glass by sucking it off the cinnamon stick garnish), gingerbread (Matilda licked off the frosting and Porter ate the rest) and a bell choir. Gaurav tried to get some nice shots of the kids, with little success.
Stella is pretty compliant but my two maniacs were bouncing up and down and making funny faces. Porter has taken to closing his eyes as part of his cheese face now. It should make taking a holiday card photo fairly interesting.

Advent Calendar

Matilda got an advent calendar from her Aunt Lori and Uncle Gordie in Arizona last week. I was putting Porter to sleep in the back bedroom when I heard her receiving it. While she had one last year, she seemed to have forgotten the whole little chocolate in each window deal. After Aunt Lori explained it to her I heard her go running off to find Tim exclaiming about how this special calendar she got had a chocolate in it and each day you got to eat one!!! Tim was then chatting with Lori explaining the great tradition they have in our friend Frusl's Swiss town. Each day a different family in the village opens their shutters to reveal a window specially decorated for 1 of the 24 days of December. Lori was starting to say how that sounded so fun when Matilda cut her off, loudly saying, "Yes, but here in California we get CHOCOLATE everyday for ours." (Nevermind the fact that we weren't in California at that particular moment.) I like to think of it as chocolate-centrism rather than ethnocentrism.

A few days ago Matilda had a panic, asking me what week it was, which was an unusual question for her since she doesn't quite grasp the days/weeks thing. It turns out she had remembered the advent calendar and wanted to verify when exactly the chocolate-a-day policy started. This morning Tim & I conferred and agreed that she could get her chocolate each day AFTER eating breakfast, primarily because we didn't think we had the endurance for listening to the chocolate-yet, chocolate-yet questions any further into the day.