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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Falling Down

First, here's an adorable picture because I know ya'll just come here for the cuteness.

Second, go read this.

Please Don't Help My Kids 

I don't know this woman, but I'm pretty sure I would like our kids to play together.

Sometimes I feel like a monster when I let Claire fall down. Now granted, if I can tell that a fall is going to be a really bad one I step in. Enough bad falls are going to happen even when I'm trying to be careful that I don't need to tempt fate by ignoring the ones I can prevent. The giant red mark on her forehead from this evening and the day old bruise on her cheek are testament to that. I do believe, however, that the pain of falling is teaching Claire to be a better walker, climber, crazy adventure baby, etc. For the last few days I've been letting Claire out of her stroller during our walks. She lasts about ten minutes before she's tuckered out and I make her get back in. During these strolls she falls down sometimes, and when she does I don't lend a hand. Instead I encourage her that falling down is OK and that she should get back up now. Luckily I don't pass too many people in these moments as I'm staring at my baby who is struggling to find her feet again.

While seeing Claire fall down makes me feel bad, seeing her struggle with other tasks just makes me happy (I know I'm a monster and Baby Claire is my victim). I love to watch her little muscles work as she tries over and over to pull herself up onto something new, though when that new thing is the ottoman or the TV stand I'm less amused. I love seeing her work to develop her little muscles just as I love to watch her little face as she tries to figure out how to get around whatever new impediment has come across her path. Even better I love rejoicing and clapping with her when she successfully gets over a new hurdle.

Sure I'm probably not quite as hardcore as this lady. Claire isn't Ender Wiggin after all and I hope that when the dark times in her life come she won't find herself having to face them utterly alone. I do hope though that if and when she finds herself in a tight spot, my choice to let her get frustrated and sometimes fail will give her a stronger character to deal with the situation. Oh snap, I even know a biblical reference to back this up. It's a personal favorite, and I'll just end with that because I certainly can't trump the Big Guy.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mama's Little Helper

Claire loves laundry day. Mostly she spends it jumping onto piles of dirty clothes and wearing underpants like a scarf. Today, however, she decided she had watched for long enough and was ready to lend a hand.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Another blog post this week! What!? This is crazy. Ok so I'm really enjoying finding time to blog and I might be getting the bug again. We'll see how long this lasts, and I'm a little out of practice, but this is pretty exciting.

Anyways, my post today is sort of silly, but I'm experimenting with the idea of nail polish. I've always been a big fan of keeping my toes pretty. This is probably because I think feet are gross, but I also love being barefoot so dolling them up makes them seem fancy instead of yucky. I also like the weekly (ok since baby it's really more bi-weekly) ritual of changing my polish while I sip some wine and take a little time for me. I've never really jumped on the finger nail polish band wagon though. I think my hands look quite nice as is and I'm kind of rough on them so they chip quick. The amount of time it takes to keep the polish looking good was just too big of a time commitment for me.

We'll after getting a gel manicure for my birthday I've decided to give finger nail polish another try. I'm not sticking with gel because one it's too expensive and two it still only lasted a little over a week before chipping. Instead I'm trying out Covergirl Outlast Stay Brilliant. It has a built in base and top coat so it went on quick and easy and Consumer Reports ranked it #1 in the no chipping category  It claims to last a week which is similar enough to the gel option that I've decided to give it a go.

I'm still not 100% sure I like the way nail polish looks on me, but I'm looking for ways to make myself look more put together without actually being more put together. Honestly if I run out the door and my hair is brushed and my face is clean I'm doing pretty good. I'm hoping adding some polish to my routine might help me fool people. I'll check back in a week and let you know how it went.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Community Baby Shower

I remember years ago when I started this blog, one of the big reasons was to share with my family and friends cool products I found at the store and other cool blog posts I found. I seem to remember I had just started shopping at Trader Joe's and was trying to get my mom interested so I'd call her all the time to share yummy new things I'd bought/made. I didn't really plan on a lot of original content, I just wanted to streamline my conversations of "OMG have you seen or heard about..." So in the spirit of that original intent today's post is just a link to a cool idea I saw on another blog.

Eating Richly Even When You're Broke: 2013 Community Baby Shower

Follow the link above and read about an awesome community event this blogger participated in that was just a beautiful mix of human beings demonstrating their love for each other.  OK  that might not have come out quite how I meant it but just read it. This is definitely getting filed under the good idea folder in my brain. Maybe some day I'll actually get around to being more active in my community and could be a part of organizing something similar. We'll see.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Sunday we had our open house, so while Jeff went to Sacramento to play golf with Shane, Baby Claire, Helen, Prince and I all headed to Muir Beach. I feel like beach days always sound better in theory, and then when you get there its kind of windy and not quite what you imagined it would be. I think part of the problem is Claire isn't quite old enough to appreciate the beach for long periods of time. I think beaches with babies are perhaps better enjoyed when you are renting place nearby and can come and go through out the day. To my surprise though Claire's reaction to the ocean was not to be afraid but to run at it and try to catch the waves as they receded  The beach has a little creek running behind it and it widens into a splashing area which Claire sat in for quite a while playing and having a good time. Next time I will definitely wear my swimsuit instead of normal clothes. You can only get so wet and sandy before all you want is a dry pair of clothes and some hot chocolate. Also, how do other moms manage all the sand when it come to babies? Claire ate a lot (which I was cool with) and got a lot, well, everywhere (which I was less than cool with).

Proof that my daughter kept her hat on, and that she loves Auntie Helen.
Towards the end of our day the wind really started to pick up . The result was Claire perfecting her flying nun  impersonation. 
This picture is really more about Prince looking like a good boy.
Once we got home and Claire had rested up, she found a burst of energy and spent a half an hour doing this over and over.

I think there might have been a demon inside the Hooka Room, and Claire was trying to warn me about it. I can only imagine she vanquished him herself because when I went in to check on things I didn't see anyone. I think its time for Claire to get her very own play house.

After so much play Claire needed to refuel and ate her first piece of fruit like a big girl. By the time she was done that pear was just a little ball of the core.

And of course no day would be complete without an injury. She fell and scraped her knee on the concrete so bad she bled and got her first band aide. All in all a very full Sunday.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Explain Growing Up (in the least grown up way possible)

I often forget that I'm a grown up. I know, you'd think the baby would tip me off to my adulthood, but no. I have definitely hit the point where I can understand where people are coming from when they say, "but I don't feel [insert age]." When people say that they are visualizing how they saw people their age when they were ten years younger and lacking the slow trek that brought them to their current age and has changed them from the person they used to be. I recently took a look back on my own trek and discovered a very personal change that I have experience several times now. Each time it has happened marks a growth in who I am and who I've made room to love. Allow me to take a moment to talk with you about my zombie preparedness plan.

My zombie preparedness plan has gone through many changes, and I originally wrote this post with a detailed explanation of it's evolution, but then it was really long and I figured none of you wanted to read all that, so here is the nutshell version. I have people whom I love spread across Northern California, should the zombies begin to spawn here I have choices to make about who I would try to get to to form my band of post-apocalyptic survivors. The biggest changes were the people I would round up, and the order I would get them in. I couldn't tell you the exact date when it happened, but at some point a little alarm went off inside me alerting me to the fact that should the end come I needed to find Jeff,even if that meant making risky decisions to search for him. I had gotten nice and comfortable with this notion and for a long time my zombie preparedness plan remained basically the same. Then something crazy happened. We had a baby, and I understood that if it came down to Claire or Jeff's survival I would pick Claire. Ouch.

It's a strange moment when you realize that you would abandon your spouse to save your child. I don't love Jeff any less than I did before Claire was born, in fact, I love him more than ever. I also don't love Claire any more than I love Jeff. I would leave Jeff behind because I believe that when we became parents something primal changed within us that put her safety above our own. We made a little life and it's our job out of love for her, and love for one another, to protect her. I would consider it an act of love for Jeff to leave him behind if it meant saving her because I know that would be the choice he would want me to make for our family. I'm not saying I would shoot him in the leg to distract the zombies from chasing Claire and me, but if a zombie hoard broke into the house and started attacking Jeff, I would grab Claire and run.

I don't think there is anything uncommon about this revelation. I imagine this is how most parents feel, but when you experience it yourself it's a little unsettling. I also imagine most people don't think of this change in terms of zombies, but I am who I am. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go make sure our zombie packs are all ready to go. Stay vigilant.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bay Area Discover Museum

Last week Ruby and I took Baby Claire to the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. It's a beautiful location right on the bay and the museum is right at the base of the Golden Gate. Ruby ended up being a little late so Claire and I spent a little time admiring the view from the snug warmth of the car.

The museum is broken up over several buildings each one having a different theme. For Claire's age the Tot Spot was the building most suited for her. One room was wetlands themed and had three "ponds" that were basically water beds for the kids to run around on. Two of them had a tunnel running between them (which Claire thought was delicious) and the other was enclosed like a little cave. The other room was dessert themed with a cave tunnel to crawl through, lots of padded areas for them to crawl over and a giant shape sorter. Outside in the Tot Spot there is a raised creek that starts up high with a water fall and then snakes back and forth around until it flows to ground level. They also had an area with tons of wooden xylophones that the kids could play while bubbles drifted around them from a machine.

When we first got there I wasn't horribly impressed, but once I saw the pure joy on Claire's face as she ran madly from place to place I knew that I was wrong. This place was indeed awesome and can't wait to take Jeff there sometime soon.

Ruby made a little friend who brought her a skunk outfit to wear around. She tried to share it with Claire latter, but Claire had very strong feelings against dressing like a skunk.

I could not keep her from tasting the water and eventually figured whatever disease she was going to get from it she already had. I even tried giving her a paci but she just started dipping it in the water too.

These little aprons where just too precious. 
This pretty much sums up the day. Claire running from one thing (the water) to another (the xylophones) so fast that we didn't have time to get her out of her apron and get her shoes back on. 
I swear she was having fun, she just takes her music super serious.

Claire had to get in one last xylophone session before we left. As we passed them she started struggling against me and when I put her down she made a run for it back to the xylophones.

Most of the pictures I tried to take in this room turned out like this. Claire wanted nothing to do with staying still.

Of course, being the Claire that we all know and love, she couldn't go a whole day at a place specifically designed for kids to play safely and not hurt herself. The creek had a little bridge with stairs on it that she managed to fall down and land forehead first on the concrete. Then she managed to find the one rough spot on the stumps that were in the xylophone area and scrape her cheek on it as she bent down to pick up a stick. That's my little lady.