Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Adventure: Aquarium of the Pacific

We headed to Long Beach this long weekend to check out the Aquarium of the Pacific. It wasn't as awesome as the Tennessee Aquarium we are used to, but it was really fun. The best part was the boardwalk and harbor village surrounding the aquarium. It's this really great outdoor shopping area and marina. We packed a picnic lunch and ate al fresco while we watched the boats pass by. We all had a fun time.

I'm still a little antsy about all day outings since we're only about a month into potty training, but she's doing great. No accidents in a few weeks. Hooray!

She touched a starfish. It felt squishy and gross. She also saw urchins. They were everywhere.

I don't like animals that can suction themselves to things. Or animals that are slimy. The sea is full of those kinds of animals. The aquarium is full of them too. I have the heeby jeebies just writing about them. I try really hard to not shape Beatrice's opinion of suctiony, slimy animals. If she wants to like them, fine. I will however, shape her opinion of snakes. We don't do snakes in this family.

She likes suctiony, slimy animals.

Sissy likes fishies. And snoozing on Daddy.

And frolicking under the sea with Daddy and fishies.

Fun day under the sea.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It Was Good

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We were all alone for our first California holiday and you know what? It was pretty good. The whole day was fun and felt like a holiday. I think I was afraid of that the most: that the day would feel like any other day and we would have this big feast for nothing. But our big feast was for something. It was for our very wonderful Thanksgiving celebration.

As soon as the girls woke up, we piled them into our bed for early morning snuggles. Those lasted for about 2 minutes so we went downstairs to begin the all day cooking marathon. We started with glazed donut muffins for breakfast and ate ourselves into oblivion from there.

I cooked and cooked and cooked. Then we ate and ate and ate and I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I think I washed the dishes 827 times. I am not cooking or cleaning for the next week at least. Maybe longer.

The girls took long naps while JD and I watched movies on the couch. We were cuddling and it was really sweet until he fell asleep on me and nearly crushed me with his heavy, lifeless body. I made him wake up and get the Christmas decor out. Fa la la la la, it's now Christmastime around these parts.

Big sister woke up and helped me put the "ord-a-ments" on the tree. She was a big help and put half of them on the tree by herself. The tree is now very bottom heavy with the majority of ornaments hung at Beatrice-level. I don't have the heart to rearrange them. She worked so hard on finding the perfect spot for each and every one.

Round 2 of sweet potato casserole and turkey, Charlie Brown, twinkling lights, and bedtime snuggles rounded out our very good day. We are blessed and thankful for each other. Happy Thanksgiving out there!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


12 years ago, the saddest Thanksgiving occurred. My dad died a month before and everyone sort of went their own way for the holiday. I found myself with just my little brother on Turkey Day. Even though it was just the 2 of us, I still wanted to cook us a huge feast. I cooked all morning and by lunch time, everything was ready. We sat down together and ate the giant spread I prepared. In 15 minutes it was over. I cooked for 4 hours for a 15 minute lunch. While it was sweet to have that time with my little brother, I was very sad to have made so much food for so little people. I missed our family. Cleaning up the leftovers only emphasized how lonely our day had been.

Every year before and since that sad Thanksgiving has been filled with family. My grandmother, mom, and aunts prepare turkey and every southern side dish you can imagine. We eat at lunch time then watch movies, talk about Christmas, plot Black Friday shopping strategies, and remember times together in the past. It's fun. I always look forward to it because I know how precious it is to be with family on holidays.

Tomorrow has the potential to be a sad Thanksgiving. It's our first holiday in California away from our families. I am determined to recreate our usual yearly feast with turkey, sweet potato casserole, and Nana's tea punch. Plus a whole lotta other yummy sides and desserts. I'm taking this opportunity to create new memories and traditions with our girls instead of focusing on being so far away from our families. We are going to eat at lunch time, say what we're thankful for, and put up our Christmas tree.

Today, I'm not dwelling on my homesickness. Instead, I'm getting excited about shaping my girls' Thanksgiving memories. Maybe I can talk JD into a walk on the beach. I might have to conjure up some tears for that... Tomorrow has the potential to be a very sad Thanksgiving, but I'm going to give it my all to make it a happy one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I hate fast food. I never ever have a craving for greasy fries or Big Macs. I would rather eat an apple than stop at a drive thru. Mystery meat nuggets never tempt me and blizzards aren't something I consider a yummy treat. The truth is, most of those foods hurt my stomach in ways that aren't worth the indulgence. But mostly, I think fast food is really yucky tasting.

Then I moved to California. Here, In N Out Burger is a big deal. Everyone insisted that I try it at least once. So I did, not expecting much. The verdict?

Oh. Em. Gee. It is delicious! I love the simple menu with 3 burger options (I like the cheeseburger with onions), the hand cut fries, and the retro feel of the packaging. The best part is after I eat one of these bad boys, I never experience the awful brick-in-the-gut phenomenon that usually plagues me after consuming fast food. It tasted like real food. I like it so much I have had it about 4 times in the month that we have lived here. You could say that I crave it.

Mmmmmm, lunch!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Super Fun Awesome Adventure Week

I just dropped my BFF off at the airport. She's flying back to Tennessee today after visiting for a week. I don't want to write about how I cried on both freeways on the way home or how I cried while putting both girls down for their naps or how I cried while cleaning my house. No, I don't want to write about crying. I want to write about the super-fun-awesome adventures we had all week. Yes, I think I will write about that. After I stop crying...


As soon as I picked her up from the airport, we headed straight for the beach. It was raining, but we didn't care. We split a grilled cheese, walked the pier, and talked for 2 hours before heading home. JD thought we ran away.


This day was Jamie's favorite. We went on a Hollywood homes tour! It was really fun. We met up with our transplanted friend and had lunch, saw some ridiculous homes, and laughed until we almost peed. It was a blast.

Lucille Ball lived here:


We headed to Laguna Beach to look for Lauren Conrad. We didn't see her, but we did walk in the icy ocean, get in trouble for taking a picture of candy, have a potty training accident, get lost, have to pay twice to travel on a stretch of highway (toll roads do not make sense to me), and deal with a very rude waitress. Other than that, it was a good day.

Neener, neener!


This was Farmers Market and The Grove day. Jamie loved it - I knew she would! We ate a yummy lunch, looked for celebs, and tried to get on Extra. We were in the crowd. 


We didn't have any plans for this day, but ended up in the car driving along the cliffy beaches of Pacific Coast Highway. We got hungry and drove into Hollywood for Pink's Hot Dogs. It was amazeballs. I had the Spicy Ozzy Dog and let's just say that I paid for it, gastro-intestinally speaking. It was worth every atomic bite.

After our hot dog fantasies were fulfilled, we headed to the Hollywood sign. I'm sort of obsessed with this thing. You can see it all over town. It is over your shoulder when you least expect it. Plus it's a pop culture icon. It is the coolest thing about this place to me. Totally lame, I know. The whole experience was almost too much to handle. I couldn't breathe on the drive up the mountain (hill?) because of the curvy road and houses jutting from the side of the rocks. I nearly pooped my pants when I saw the sign up close. It is huge and awesome and the biggest moment of my life. Besides marrying JD. And having babies.


I was supposed to get my hair done this day, but when we arrived in Santa Monica I called and rescheduled so we could have the whole day to play. We played on the beach, we played on the pier, and we played on the 3rd Street Promenade. Fun, fun day.


Our super fun awesome adventures are over. I think I will cry some more now. We miss and love you, Jamie! Hurry back!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

She (We) Did It

Last week on Beatrice's birthday, I decided to stop making excuses about delaying the inevitable task before me. I bought tiny undies, washed every hand towel we own, and set the potty chair in our playroom. It was time for potty training. I was terrified and really did not want to do it. Diapers are so easy. But, my child was ready. And I was sick of the nagging feeling of failure for missing the previous potty training deadlines I set for myself. It was time to put my (and Beatrice's) big girl panties on and do it.

The first day went just as I expected it to go. There were accidents, lots of them. She peed on the couch, she peed on our bed, she peed on the highchair, she peed on her riding toy, she peed on the picnic blanket, she peed on every square inch of our floors, and she peed a tiny little bit on the potty. It was almost enough to make me give up. I really wanted to, but I'm stubborn and I don't ever give up on things. 

The week continued and things progressed. Beatrice started to get the hang of what she was supposed to do on the potty. We still had our fair share of accidents, but less and less as the week neared to an end. I was feeling pretty accomplished. Then she decided she was over potty training and basically refused to pee on the potty. She started peeing on herself (and everything we own) again. It was bad. JD and I didn't know what to do. Friends assured me that regression is normal, but it was hard to accept since she seemed to be totally trained the days before. I cried. I prayed. I cried some more. Every single person I encountered last week from friends and family to the checkout lady at the grocery store heard about our potty training woes and doled out their own advice. They all told me the same thing: do not give up.

So we pressed on. After being cooped up in the house the entire last week, I had to get out. The only problem was, I was too afraid to take Beatrice out without a diaper. I was equally afraid to put her in a diaper for fear of confusing her and regressing even more. So I put her in a diaper in the car and changed her into panties when we arrived wherever it was we went. She stayed dry, but refused to pee in public. Our outings were pretty miserable for the both of us since I took her to the bathroom every 15 minutes or so. She was sick of sitting on the potty and I was sick of worrying about an accident. Something had to change. I decided to chill the heck out. I needed to accept that Beatrice would eventually get it and be completely potty trained, but I was making us both crazy with being so afraid of the accidents. After all, it was just pee. Lots and lots and lots of pee. 

Chilling out has helped tremendously. Today is day 10 and she is almost completely trained. We still have at least 1 accident a day, but they are usually my fault for not making the potty easily accessible to her. She has used a public restroom with success and we have been to the mall for 4 hours without any diapers or accidents. She is doing great. I don't know that she completely gets it yet. We are still working on teaching her to let us know when she has to go. Right now we have her sit on the potty once an hour and that seems to be perfect for her, but I don't know if she would go sit on it by herself without us prompting her to at this point. She's still learning, and so are we.

This has been just as scary as I predicted it would be. I like to think that I am a fairly good teacher to my children, but I have no idea how to teach someone how to control their bodily functions. It has been very emotional and stressful for all of us.

What has made it easy and fun is the reward chart we have been using. Victoria Chart Company contacted me a few months ago about possibly using one of their charts for potty training success. I was all over it. The chart encourages building up a child's self esteem and sense of accomplishment by rewarding positive behavior and achievements. The chart can be customized to each child's developmental stage/points of interest. Beatrice loves adding a sticker each time to uses the potty and is so happy with herself when she sees all of the stickers she has earned at the end of the day. And because it can be customized, we will be using this chart for chores, homework, and other achievements as our children grow. Thank you Karen for the awesome chart! If you like their Facebook page, you can earn a 15% off coupon code for your very own chart!

I won't say we are completely potty trained at this point. Beatrice still sleeps in diapers because I am not okay with pee in the bed. Once she starts waking up consistently dry, we will ditch the nighttime diapers too. I do think the hardest part is behind us. She loves the potty, loves her big girl panties, and loves that she learned a new (really hard) thing. I'm proud of her. I'm a little proud of me too. It was scary and awful there for a minute, but I'm so glad we pressed on and claimed victory over our child's bladder!!!! Yahooooooo!!!!

Serioiusly, I am so proud of my girl. She did all of the hard work. I just made sure she had an appropriate place to pee when she got tired of going all over our house. Good job, big girl!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Penelope is 11 weeks old now. I had to count the weeks on a calender because I lost track of how old she is. The time is flying with this little one. I love her to pieces.

She has finally grown out of that really fussy baby stage that both of my girls went through. Just in time too. For the first 2 months of their lives, JD and I are convinced our children hate us since all they do is cry. She is happy now.

She is wearing my baby dress. Beatrice wore it too. I love hand-me-downs with a story. 

She is a great sleeper, just like her sister. I joke that God knows my capabilities and has blessed me with babies that sleep through the night early on because He knows that I can't function without sleep. I am a much better mother when I am rested.

She looks like her sister.

She is a mama's girl and wants to be on me 24/7. I wrote this post one handed because she is in my lap, smiling and talking to me. And pooping. This kid poops a lot. We are buddies. I only share when Daddy comes home. Plus, it's just me all day long so that kinda explains a lot.

Mommy and her girls.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend Adventure: LA Farmers Market

Every weekend, JD and I load up the girls and explore Los Angeles. Today, we went to the LA Farmers Market. It was really fun if you like fine food, people watching, and celebrities. JD doesn't care about fine food, people watching or celebrities so he wasn't impressed. I, on the other hand, was in fine food, people watching, celebrity heaven.

This aisle smelled so good. 

We made sure to go hungry. The food options were endless, authentic, and yummy. Beatrice and I shared a falafel plate at a Greek vendor. One word: amazeballs.

The people watching was pretty amazeballs too. Everyone here is so, so beautiful and fashionable. Us? Not so much. We had irrational ideas about cashing out our savings account and going on a California shopping spree. We are still weighing the pros and cons.

I saw 3 celebrities! Toni Collette was taking her little girl to the bathroom while I was in there. She is really skinny. Mandana from the Rachel Zoe Project was shopping with her husband. She is really pretty. And then the funniest thing happened. We ran into Curtis Stone and he proposed to me. I was really flattered. And of course I said yes. I mean no.

He looked RIGHT at me!

There were so many other things I wanted to photograph, but I'm so torn on these weekend adventures about how much of a tourist I am willing to look like. On one hand, I sort of am a tourist since I'm doing these things for the first time. But on the other hand, I live here and don't want to look like a complete paparazzo with my Canon on my face at every venue.

Happy weekend! I hope everyone has an adventure of their own.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Care Package

My brother and sister in law just sent us the most awesome care package ever. I cried a little when I opened it and found all of this:

Our carpet is not green by the way. Just thought I should address that.

They sent me some Toms, a sticker book, paint book and a tickle monster book for the girls, and a book for JD. The card was the best part. My family has the weirdest sense of humor in the world and very few people "get" us. The great thing is that we all married people who get us and we all get each other. This results in multiplied weird hilarity when we're together. The card made me laugh and then cry because I miss my hilarious, weird family so much. Then I put on my Toms and felt better.

This care package really sets the bar for all future care packages. My family should really take note because it will take a lot of effort to top this one. Seriously guys, take note and try to top this one. All of you. Please. Thanks Grant and Jenni! We love everything. Keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Beatrice turned 2 yesterday. Last month, we had a big party for her since it would just be the 4 of us on her actual birthday. We still wanted her day to be special so we headed to Chuck E. Cheese's for a birthday extravaganza.

It was everything a 2 year old's birthday should be. Pizza, games, a few sips of Coke, ice cream. And Chuck. She loves Chuck. That is one giant, creepy mouse.

It was JD's first trip to Chuck E. Cheese (which is totally weird to me) and he wasn't very impressed. Since it was Halloween night, there were lots of kids hyped up on sugar running around asking Beatrice for coins and taking her skee balls. She may be little, but she stood her ground. After several skee balls were taken from her, she stood up for herself and told the bigger girl, "Beatriceseseses!" We then had to have a talk about sharing which was kind of weird since the bigger girl was basically stealing toys away from her. We may save the sharing talk for less competitive places that don't have skee ball.

Sissy was there watching mommy stuff her face full of overpriced (and kind of icky) pizza.

We ended the night with ice cream and presents. Beatrice and I made a pink sprinkle cake on Friday, but JD and I sort of devoured it. In 3 days. Oops. Thankfully she didn't care anything about it. She is an ice cream girl these days.

Last month she was a cake girl.

And since I'm sharing photos from last month's party, I might as well share these.

We had a bounce party and let Beatrice choose the bouncing apparatus. She chose the tiger. It was going great until she bounced in it.

Almost 2 year olds might be too lightweight to actually jump in these things. Driving is a much more age appropriate activity.

It was a great party last month and a great night last night. Our big girl is 2 now. Happy birthday, sweet girl.