Monday, November 17, 2014

Little Girls and Ladybugs

Redwood Regional Park is only a few miles away from us, and in addition to being a lovely redwood grove, it is also the winter home of swarms of ladybugs. If you're willing to take an easy 2 mile or so hike into the forest you can find some of them at the intersection of Prince and Creek trails. Even though today was pretty blustery, we decided to bundle up our bug loving little girl and head into the woods. 

I think it's fair to say it was slightly less impressive than I was expecting, but we all had a great time enjoying the crisp Autumn day and falling leaves. It also gave our hike a nice destination point and took us farther down the path than we normally go when visiting this park.

 I was shocked by how well ladybugs blend into Fall colors. I think I'm used to cartoonish depictions of ladybugs that are fire engine red, when in reality they are far more rust colored. Honestly we would have probably walked right by them if we didn't know they were there. I was also surprised because they were all on the ground when I expected them to be on the trees. 

Claire spent a lot of time letting her new friends crawl over her hands. Full disclosure, a few ladybugs might have lost their lives as a result of Claire's visit. We tried our best to keep them safe, but she's two.

Claire was  a trooper, but a multi-hour hike is  still a bit long for her. By the end she just kept telling us that she was ready to go night night. Luckily Daddy was more than willing to carry her as much as she needed. 

She also decided that playing Freaky Friday with their hats would make the end of the hike far more entertaining. Jeffry was the only one who didn't like this plan.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Joan's Pumpkin Patch

We had good intentions of taking Claire to Apple Hill this year, but our October ended up being a bit fuller than we'd originally planned. Suddenly a six hour round drive just sounded a bit to intense for this tired momma, but luckily I had heard of a pumpkin patch in Livermore, which is a scant 30 minutes from our door. This way we could still sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, go play at Joan's farm and get Claire back to the car in time for a late nap.

While Joan's farm is certainly no Apple Hill, Claire had a blast. She loved roaming through the pumpkins, feeding the animals and exploring the farm. When she's older there will be even more for her to enjoy like the train, hay ride and corn maze. We got her a pumpkin, a hat full of mini squash for me and a butter nut squash for a future dinner all for $10. Score all around! The only weird thing we had to watch out for was all the barbed wire. I guess Joan's is a real working ranch the rest of the year so it makes sense, but it was a little strange to have the pumpkins in a barbed wire pen.

Off to have an adventure.

Ready to check out!
I think Jeff is the best part of this picture.
Monkey See...
Monkey Do...
Claire kept trying to feed them one pellet at a time.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Doctors Visit

Claire had her first visit to her new doctor in Oakland today. It was definitely a big change going from a tiny little pediatricians office at the Napa Kaiser, to a family practice doctor and the mega complex that is Kaiser in Oakland. We ended up having to find street parking and then wander around trying to find the right building. Luckily I left plenty of time (after receiving multiple warnings from Kaiser employees about the parking situation) and still arrived 15 minutes early.

Outside of the size and location, going to a family practice was a big change as well. One thing I hadn't considered when picking a family doctor over a pediatrician, is that the waiting room would be full of sick people. This sounds silly when you say it out loud, but at a pediatrician office, the majority of kids aren't actually sick. They are there for regular wellness check ups, to get shots or physicals for sports. At the family doctor, however, there are also lots of grown ups waiting to be seen, many of whom are noticeably sick. It's a bit unrealistic to expect a 20 month old to not want to run around and touch everything when you are waiting in a room for 25 minutes for the nurse to call your name. I really like the doctor we met today, but I'm still debating if I should switch to the pediatricians office for this reason.

I was never wild about Claire's old doctor, but I had gotten very used to the routine of her previous well check visits. This visit was the first time that everything switched from baby to big girl. To weigh her they had her stand on the grown up scale instead of sitting her on a device reminiscent of a veggie scale at the grocery store. For her height they had her stand against the wall just like a big girl instead of stretching her out on the doctor's table. It was really weird for me, but Claire took it all in stride. My baby isn't a baby anymore. Oh, and finally, I didn't have to pick up our bags, clip board and Claire when they called our name and waddle my way back to the doctor's office. I simply grabbed my bags and told Claire to follow me and she did. She walked herself all the way back to the doctor's office with only a brief stop at reception to get a sticker one of the nurses was offering her.

Well the point of this post was to do a general update on Claire's milestones and growth, but I guess I had more to say about her doctor's visit than I realized! Guess I should change the title and save the update for tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our First Disney Trip

As you all know, we recently went on a trip to the happiest place on earth. I'm sure you know this because you've probably had to listen to me whine and worry over the last six months about how this trip was going to go. Both Jeff and I were pretty scared by an awful trip to Tahoe with Claire back in January were she refused to sleep and we had to take turns throughout the night hanging out on the couch with her, and I mean THE WHOLE NIGHT. I was really concerned about a repeat and since we were going with my mom it would have been even worse if Claire didn't handle it all well. Not to mention Claire also had started throwing a lot of tantrums in the month before the trip. Oh goodness, I was concerned.

Claire ready and excited for her first day. Each morning she'd run to the door and start knocking to be let out.
I got totally misty eyed watching Claire run around the resort when we first arrived. This is one of the first times I've taken her to something that was a big part of my own childhood (and Jeff's). 

Well, my worries were all for nothing. Claire was a champ from start to finish. She was patient about the car ride to southern California, she was a reasonably good sleeper (she would crawl into bed with us around four and find lots of fun positions to sleep in) and she didn't cry on any of the rides. Sure she fussed here and there, but she only got really pissed off once. In her defense though, who wouldn't be upset if you'd just started playing in a beautiful puddle and then were ripped away from it?

Claire is trying to be brave as she got on her first ride, but she wasn't so sure about it.
This is one of my favorites.

Our future oceanographer.
Claire shared our family's generally belief that Luigi's Tire Spin sucked. I kinda liked it.

We took Claire on just about every ride she was big enough for, and she definitely had some she preferred over others. I had read a tip online to start with rides that you think have no chance of being scary so your kid doesn't get afraid of the rides before the trip even starts. For this reason we started with the Jungle Cruise and Claire was in love. She was not particularly fond of spinning rides like the tea cups or Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, but she just held on to me and waited for it to be over. Her favorite ride was probably Dumbo. She LOVED anything that went up and down. Her little feet were kicking and her little bottom was bouncing off the seat the whole ride. Heights certainly din't phase her, as she was happy to ride on the Ferris Wheel at DCA that even grandma wouldn't go on. She was also super excited that the operator let her ride the carousel multiple times without getting off. I was a little surprised that she was really into the new Little Mermaid ride since she hasn't seen the movie, but she loved when Scuttle would show up.
Our merry band of Disney misfits.
Claire had to supervise the belt tightening.
Carousels are super serious business.
Claire wasn't all that interested in meeting characters, but luckily she was just a little shy, not full on afraid. I was really hoping to get a picture of her with Stitch, but I never saw him during our trip. We did stumble upon the Winnie the Pooh characters with no lines though, so we snapped a few photos. 

We tried to get a happy picture of her with Pluto, but she said no.

One thing that was super adorable was Claire's fascination with all the rocks in Disneyland. I never realized just how many little pebbles are worked into the ques for rides, but Claire sure did. As we were waiting to ride Nemo she had to stop and touch all the little pebbles and see if there were any good climbing footholds. We decided that maybe we have a little geologist on our hands.

Claire laughs in the face of pirates. 
I think my proudest moment came when my baby girl made it through Pirates of the Caribbean without getting scared. I might have been a little annoying to the people in front of us because I was talking a lot (quietly of course). I assumed though that they'd prefer a little quiet chatting over a screaming toddler. I warned her about the drops by telling her that we were about to go down a slide, and the second time we went she even raised her little arms up like she does at the park. I think some of the pirate stuff she was just too young to know was scary. For example, she has no context for why skeletons would be spooky. It'll be interesting to see how she responds to the ride when she is a little older.

Ferris Wheel in DCA. Jeff made us do the non-swinging ones. Probably the right choice.
This was my first time going to Disneyland with a kid, and it was certainly a different experience. First of all, Claire wanted to take a four hour nap in the afternoon, but luckily that gave Jeff and I a little time to ride some grown up rides while Grandma relaxed back at the resort. You also just have to take everything slower. We spent four days in the parks and it gave us just enough time hit most things once and our favorites twice. We never made it to Tom Sawyer's island and a few other places, but we've been so many times that it was ok. I think having gone to the parks so much gave us a better chance of enjoying ourselves with Claire because it didn't matter so much if we missed something. We've already done everything enough and I'm certain we will go back plenty of times in the future. I can see how that would have been different if we lived half way across the country and only planned to come once or twice.

Claire getting her groove on at the Disney Junior show.
Going with Claire also resulted in us doing new things, and experiencing the parks from a new perspective. I've never really done Bugs Land, or played in the water areas they have set up for little ones, but Claire thought they were amazing! We also went and saw the Disney Junior show. Even though it was Claire's nap time and she had a very full diaper by the time it was over, she couldn't have cared less. She danced and wiggled and was amazed by the puppets and music.

One final note, I need to say thank God for baby leashes. I used to think they were weird (before I had a kid), but that thing is my new best friend. Claire never fought it, in fact, she'd get excited to put it on because it meant she was about to get to run and explore. My little girl is fast and the parks were more crowded than we expected, so without the leash she would have been stuck either in the stroller or in our arms the whole trip. Claire isn't a big fan of getting in and out of the stroller either, so I think we'll be seeing the panda coming along with us to future zoo visits as well.

And now here are some fun videos from the trip.

 I of course could never catch her on camera when she was excitedly pointing at the stuff she was passing, but she sure was enjoying telling papa about how much fun she was having.

It's a long standing family tradition that the ducks must be fed when we go to the Hungry Bear. Oh and no, we don't feed them our lunch, we bring bread in our backpacks specifically for them. We take this seriously.

Claire enjoyed the little parades and dance moments a lot. I like that in DCA they do more mini parades and character interaction since that fits her attention span better.

For some reason Claire really wanted to sit on the ground and wiggle during the Disneyland parade. This one was actually pretty cool. I especially liked the Mary Poppins float, and Claire was excited to see Rapunzel.

I just love how she talks like she's explaining everything to me and then gets all thoughtful at the end. Putting a toddler in a metal tube that we can't exit early made me a little nervous, but she was entertained the whole time and even started to notice that other people where seeing different stuff through their windows so she tried to sneak peaks.

This is really dark, but Muppets will be going away soon so I thought we should get a little video. She was fairly tolerant of the glasses, but only kept them on for about half the show before she gave up.

I don't know why Claire wants to push kids down who are younger than her, but at least she listens when she's caught. This area was perfect for Claire while we took turns using our fastpasses for Cars.

Claire seemed fascinated by animatronic birds in other rides so we thought the Tiki Room would be a big hit. Honestly, her favorite part was the fountain outside and the dole whip.

And last but not least, Claire got quite a few treats on this trip. We don't even give her juice at home! It was a vacation though, so she got to cheat...a lot.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Some Cuteness

Are you feeling a little low on cuteness today, or perhaps a little blue knowing that Monday is just around the corner? If so, I've got just the thing for you. Here are a few adorable things that Claire has been up to in the last month.

First off, she's been learning a lot.

Second, she's been feeding herself lots of good food.

Third, she's been educating herself about the magic of the Jews.

And finally she got an adorable new hat that she is particularly fond of putting on sideways.

I do also need to report that one should be careful if they visit us and own a smart phone. As I was looking through my camera  the other day I found this mysterious video.

The thief was smart and didn't show his or her face, but I'll be working with a toe identification expert to find the culprit. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tea Time

There are few "firsts" that have gone quite as planned. For example, the first time we tried to get Claire to color she hated it. She was completely uninterested and got mad at us when we tried to encourage it. The first time we took her to the snow, she couldn't have cared less about sledding or snow balls, but at least she tolerated our attempts to excite her. I've just gotten to the point where I assume I'm introducing everything too early, and she'll hate it the first time round. When I decided to buy her a tea set earlier today I just went ahead and prepared myself for failure.

When she woke up from her nap today, I made us a little tea time snack of blueberries, cheese and crackers and called Claire out to the porch to join me. This is what happened next.


I have never had so many happy expletives running through my head as I did in this moment. My daughter killed tea time in all the best ways. She sat nicely, she ate her snack and she even used the handle of the cup. Oh and did I mention she made little refreshing "ahh" sounds after she sipped her tea? Her motor skills and strength need to catch up a bit before she can pour like a lady, but with the weather as warm as it's been, I don't mind having tea time be an outdoor activity.

Here area few more shots of the cuteness.

Monday, June 3, 2013


My daughter has discovered a magical secret about our house. She has learned that if she stands in a specific spot in the living room, even though it's in plain sight, she turns invisible. She's milking this for all it's worth because she knows it's only a matter of time until we grown ups figure it out and ruin the game. Until then, this will continue.