Sunday, November 27, 2011


Mark's parents were kind enough to fly out and join us for our turkey feast. Yes, I prepared a turkey! Although it was only the turkey breast (I don't do bones or dark meat), it was slow-cooked and really delicious! Everything was delicious. We were happy to have the company to share it.

The boys dressed the part in their indian attire. Owen in his pow wow shirt and headband, complete with drum and beads...courtesy of his kindergarten pow wow held at school last week. He even had a Native American name--woodpecker.

And Gavin sported this awesome jacket that Mark used to wear as a child. True vintage embroidery and fringe. It's probably more "cowboys and indians", but it worked for him quite nicely all Thanksgiving day.

We had beautiful weather throughout the weekend. We managed to visit a local park and zoo. And we spent a day at the beach. Yes, the beach! The weather couldn't have been better with sunshine and 70s.

We went to see the monarch butterflies that migrate here and rest in a grove of eucalyptus trees on the coast. They were amazing. Some clung to the trees in clusters and while others fluttered freely through the air. It reminded me of THIS group of monarchs:

Owen's kindergarten class studied the life cycle of the butterfly about a month ago and then held a butterly parade at school where they released their monarchs into the wild. So it was fitting that we pay the butterflies a visit and see them in their natural environment.

Back at the beach, we played near the water's edge. We drew with sticks in the sand and built castles and motes. The water was at low tide, even lower tide than normal because of the season or moon or whatever combination. So we were able to enjoy the exposed rocky cliffs and extra seaweed.

We had to take full advantage of our beach day because the weather was just so pleasant. So we also visited a small marine discovery center on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The boys got to touch sharks and sea stars, compare furcoats of seals and otters, and watch all sorts of sea life swim through their tanks.

The entire weekend was really great. And I feel especially thankful to live in such a great place and to have wonderful family with which to share it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Soccer

There's something about fall soccer. It feels familiar. Like running into an old friend. A turning of events from the ease of summer to the routine of fall. We began the season back in August, showing up to practices and games in our shorts and flip flops; guzzling down lots of water to keep cool. And week by week, the season progressed just as summer turned to fall. Slowly but surely, as the days grew cooler and the leaves changed color, we began layering up for practices and games. Until finally at our end-of-season tournament we watched from the sidelines in our jackets and warm boots. Cheering on our team, The Little Rascals.

Owen had a wonderful experience with soccer this time around. He showed so much improvement from last year. I think it was a combination of great coaching and being more grown up. He was so excited to go to practices and games. His teammates and his coaches really boosted his confidence. He went in not knowing a single kid on the team, and he walked away with a new batch of friends and a desire to play with the same coaches in the spring.

I didn't get many photos of the games this year because I was too busy watching and enjoying them. But here are a few shots I took for the grandparents.

Owen's team did really well. They took first place in the tournament and got an additional trophy to show for it. Two trophies and one happy soccer player. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Happy Halloween

The boys went for a reptilian theme this year. They chose to be a turtle and a dragon for Halloween. The turtle was easy because Owen wore the same costume when he was younger. And though Mark would rather he went as something "cooler", Gavin insisted on being a turtle. And a very cute turtle he was.

O's costume was a little harder. I looked around for dragon costumes, but I didn't like anything I saw. They all looked cheesy, or toddler-ish, or too much like a dinosaur. I wanted him to have a more grownup dragon look...without being gross. I think we achieved it. Sure the costume could have been more comprehensive, but the overall look was great.

You can catch a glimpse of our pumpkin carving in the photos above. But you can't see all the work that went into Owen's pumpkin. He first drew out a plan on paper, then he drew it on the pumpkin. And he carved it mostly by himself. I thought the finished project looked amazingly like his plan...and amazingly good. But he didn't think it was as creepy as Gavin's (Mark's) jack-o-lantern face. So he had Mark help him carve a creepier one on the back. Double the face, double the creepy I guess.

And I'll leave you with this photo we call "Halloween turtle of joy". Hope you had a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Picking We Will Go

I took the boys to a favorite pumpkin patch last week afterschool where we picked out pumpkins for carving. Nothing says fall like a hot day at the patch (around 86 degrees), followed by a cool dip in the pool (around 68 degrees).

We rode the train, fed the farm animals, ran around the hay bales, sweated through our clothes, and grabbed a milkshake for the ride home.

With pumpkins ready for carving and costumes set to go, the countdown is on for Halloween!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's Electric

Owen's school picture came home in his book bag today. I took one look at the photo and laughed out loud.

Seriously? That hair is shocking.

Generally we don't even spike it. But for the occasional photo we try to dress it up a bit. And on this particular picture day I had Mark do Owen's hair.

You see, Mark and I disagree on how to "do" Owen's hair. He thinks that I make it look too nerdy; too done. He prefers a messy look and likes to rough it up a bit. So Owen's hair either doesn't get styled at all, or we take turns styling it. Silly, I know. But those are the kinds of compromises you have to make in a marriage.

And, believe it or not, Owen seems to be just as particular about how his hair should look. On picture morning he insisted on having it stick up in the front. And this photo reflects the sort of decisions that occur in the early morning when you're just trying to get your kid out the door for school.

Really it's not that bad. Pretty cute in fact. But on first glance it just struck me as funny. It's like his finger was just pulled out of a socket...and click.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Rainy Day Fun

I looked at the weather forecast for the week and noticed tomorrow is the first day of predicted rain since...well, since the beginning of summer.
We did encounter cloudy drops once during the summer while visiting Grandma and Grandpa's a couple months ago. It was a warm downpour with weighty drops and high humidity. I love those kind of rainstorms!

Here's to warmer weather and fun at Grandma's house:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

It was a success!

He was happy. He was brave. He was normal.
I was glad. I was floored. I was relieved.

The real story begins on the morning of day two. He woke up mad and I could tell it was not going to be good. He refused to get dressed. He refused to eat breakfast. He came up with several excuses to NOT go to school. But somehow I got both boys out the door (dragging and pleading). We arrived at school just in time, but Owen wouldn't go in the classroom. We had a student teacher helping...but not really helping...convince Owen to go in.

Finally we managed to get him to go in the door. And she promptly closed it so he couldn't run back out. I stood on the outside with Gavin, holding back my own tears, listening to him yell on the other side of the door, "I NEED TO SAY GOODBYE TO MY MOM!" There was some kicking or knocking things down. And then silence.

I think Owen decided to wait until Mark left town to pull out the performance. Needless to say, it was still better than last year's first day of preschool. Speaking of which, here's a side-by-side photo of the milestones.

Day three was better than two, but not as good as one. What will day four bring? We'll see.

Here's one last pic of Owen getting a haircut last weekend. He looks so grown-up to me! He wouldn't let me spike his hair for school this week, but it's cute don't you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Owen is 5!

So what does that mean?

He is 44 inches tall and weighs 44 lbs...a perfect square!

He is the leader, manager, and safety patrol of Gavin.

He is showing signs of entrepreneurship with inventions such as "Speed Fork".

He continues to entertain us with his gimmicks. The kid has layers.

He has his own personal style.

He is intense and playful, sourpuss and sillypants.

He is more than he was last year.
More intelligent, more attitude, more comfortable, more kid.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Swim Lessons - Take Two

Last year we enrolled Owen in swim lessons. And he refused to get in the pool about five out of the nine lesson days. Sound familiar? Not what I'd call a success. But a year passed, and he had become much more confident in our pool. So we decided to sign him up for swim lessons again this summer. He was so excited to get in the pool and show off his new skills. He talked about it and looked forward to it for weeks.

When the first day of class arrived, all that excitement and confidence went out the door. And the lesson went a bit like this.

By day three we had graduated to this:

And day four found us talking with the instructor and swim manager about how to get him in the pool. Should I get in with him? Should we re-enroll for a different session? Did I want a refund? I didn't know what to say. And when I told them that we actually had a pool at our house; that he is completely comfortable in the water. Well, they had nothing else to say.

Then...amazingly...with five minutes of class left...Owen decided he was ready to get in the pool. And days five through eight he swam like a champ. Wouldn't stay on the wall. Swam and swam. Didn't want to get out.

On the last day of class his swim instructor couldn't be there, so there was a substitute. And wouldn't you know. Owen refused to get in the pool.

In the end, with a 44 percent participation rate, he completed all the requirements to move up to the next level. A success? I say yes.
In true Owen style.

I Do Love Flowers

Fresh flowers in my house just make me happy. I couldn't help but share these two because they are so amazing. First the peonies. I picked them up at Trader Joes awhile back and could not believe how they blossomed. When I got them they were the size of a small fist. And within a week they had opened to the size of my hand. Unbelievable. And just beautiful!

And this orchid has a great story. Two Julys ago it was given to me by my dear friend Kim. She gave it to me after I had Gavin and it blossomed beautifully throughout the month of July. Eventually the fun fuschia petals fell off. But sure enough, each July they come back and remind me of the time I had my second baby.

Yep, I do love flowers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gav's Bday

It just so happened that Gavin's birthday fell on a very busy week for us. My parents were here visiting (fun!) and we were plowing through a bunch of home improvement projects (not fun). But we managed to celebrate the day with a couple giant balloons, a fancy hot dog dinner, and a favorite--chocolate ice cream cones. This face says it all.

Gav got a lot of great gifts on his big day, but I thought I'd highlight the one Owen gave him. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

It's a book about feelings. Owen and I made it during Gavin's nap one afternoon. We had a lot of fun practicing all sorts of facial expressions, and Gavin loves to see pictures of his big brother in a book. Here are some of the pages:

A very fun gift to make and give. Now that I've made this one, my mind has been busy thinking up lots of other books that would be fun to make.