Wednesday, May 23, 2018

France - 3ième Journée

I haven't found enough time to write! Pictures will have to suffice today, because I'm too tired to collect my thoughts. The captions can tell the story of day three.

A great door in Chinon
Looks open, right? Nope. Not until 12 pm :)
Fun name for a flower shop 
Chlorophylle Fluers, from another angle 
Group photo in Chinon, a lovely medieval town
Chinon from above 
The wild poppies here are stunning
Fast forward to Paris, in La Louvre
Molly, Sarah and my Mom, hanging with Mona Lisa
A grand hallway in La Louvre

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

France - 2ième Journée

The first day in France was nice, but sort of feels like a lost cause because of the jet lag. So I'll just skip to day 2. What a lovely day! After sleeping in until 10:15 am, we drove our rental car to Chateau de Chenonceau. Our Rick Steve guide for the Loire Valley said this castle was known for maintaining it's wood-burning fire places in the winter and flower arrangements in the summer. Was this ever true! As a budding flower shop owner, I couldn't help but take photo after photo of the arrangements I saw throughout the castle.

Next we drove to Vouvray, in search of a late lunch and wine tastings. Wine tastings were easy to come by, whereas food was not. In rural France, it's not so common to eat between 2 and 7 pm. We settled for some marvelous quiches from a charcuterie while tasting some nice wines at Cave de Vouvray. The brut (bubbly) wines were our favorites. Next we headed to another winery complete with a cellar tour, before checking out Tours (the largest city in the region) and finally driving back to Ambois for dinner.

A flower shop in Tours
Shimmering cobblestones walking back from dinner

Saturday, April 14, 2018

She's 5!

Cora turned five on Wednesday. We started the week off with a joint birthday dinner with Aunt Georgia (who turned 30+ on Friday :). On Wednesday, Cora brought toilet paper rolls stuffed with fruit leather and stickers to her 4K class and silk flowers with fruit leather taped to the stems to her friends at St. Bernard's.

On Wednesday night, we celebrated with butternut squash soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and green beans at Cora's request. The strawberry birthday cake was supposed to be a highlight, but both Cora and Peter found it too sweet. I went out of my way to avoid fake stuff (jello, artificial strawberry extract, a box mix or canned frosting), but alas, it probably wasn't worth the effort - note the curdled frosting below.  Sounds like I should have tried adding more sugar instead of assuming it was the acid in the strawberry puree. The cake theme [space/monkey/Hello Kitty], however? NAILED IT! The best part of the birthday night was probably a surprise visit from Helen (our old nanny) and new rain boots, both of whom/which Cora asks for with regularity.

The next day, I had parent-teacher conferences with the girls' teachers. Mrs. Douglas, Cora's awesome 4K teacher, had wonderful things to say about Cora, including her "academic" progress and love of art and science. Louisa also had Mrs. Douglas for 4K, and in September, after only knowing Cora for 2 weeks, she commented on how different she is from Louisa. I didn't get to ask her to elaborate on her observations then, so I asked her on Thursday. She explained that while Cora doesn't do this so much anymore, she tested the limits in the beginning of the school year. She also mentioned that Cora is more apt to play with boys and be more physical (in a playful way) than Lou.

When Cora was in 3K, we laughed about how often we heard of boys in her class competing for her attention. Mrs. Douglas didn't mention that this year. Whew!

Bean Bean, we love you. Your love for make-believe, your family and art is awesome. We're excited to continue to watch you be you. Hang tight - those bangs will grown out soon enough!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

'Till You See The Light [Turn Green]

For years and years, our kids' bedtime routine has been lovely and the same: jams on, 3 books on the couch, brush teeth, hop in bed, 2 songs, 1 prayer, and then 1 final song. Perhaps it's his age, but while Peter has mostly gone to bed easily since he was an infant, he hasn't always embraced the singing and praying routine before bedtime. By not embracing it, I mean there were times when he would request no songs! don't pray! so we would just say goodnight and leave his room.

He has consistently been our early riser too. If the rest of us would sleep in until 6:50 on a weekday and 7:10 on weekends, he prefers sometime between 6:20-6:45 regardless of the day of the week. To help train him to sleep in a bit later, we bought the Ok to Wake clock for Peter, which turns green at a set time, signaling that it's okay to wake up. It's not really working, but it is cute to see how proud he is when he happens to sleep past 6:45, which is his okay-to-wake time. The problem/not-problem lately is that he is waking up around 6:30, removing his diaper and going to the bathroom. Our alarm is thus, I pooped on the potty!

Thankfully he's feeling the rhythm of songs and a prayer lately, and the other night, I decided to sing a song that was new to him. It goes like this:

I will be your home
I will be your guide
I will be your friend
Always by your side
Sleep now in your room
Quiet of the night
Surrounded by the moon
'Till you see the light

When Renae and Jeremy sing it, it's beautiful - repeated a couple of times through, with a round and nice harmony. When I sang it for Peter the first time the other night, I was not thinking of the green light on his clock, but apparently he was. The first time through, he was staring at me, obviously listening to the words. The second time, right as I sang the final word light, he sang along: turn green. It made me beam and still 24 hours later, made my heart swell. I can't say that it helped him sleep in either morning since, but I guess we'll keep trying.

Even if you don't sleep in, we love you, Peter! And happy 3rd birthday!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Attic Upgrade

I'm still so surprised by how well I've been able to overlook the eyesores of unfinished work all this time. Surprised and proud, I guess, as a recovering perfectionist. Nate's big thing about these finishing touches is that after about 30 minutes of living with the improvement, we stop noticing it because it "looks the way it should look." I agree, although 1 week later, I still glance up towards the attic when I'm walking down to the main floor. And if I go up to the attic to do a little, I start to breath deeper before I've even laid my mat down, thankful that this tedious task is behind me. Next step, repainting the walls so there is more contrast between the Pearly White trim and the Modern Grey walls, although I'm not gonna lie - that is not high on my priority list right now. 

I hope these before and after shots help you breath a little deeper too. Namaste.


The attic is definitely a fun and relaxing place to be these days, as long as I avert my eyes from the storage room, which in in need of a big re-org. Or just a door. Actually tonight I sat on the couch and watched an entire movie (Toy Story) with the kids. Not once did I feel the urge to get up and organize. What did really distract me though was how beat up the trim of Andy's house is. This is a animated film, Pixar! Can't it just be perfect? I've seen the movie before and definitely did not notice the trim then. Apparently I'm extra sensitive after spending so much quality time with ours.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Things They Say, 47th Edition

I just got back from my HIIT class and there are dishes to be done and a house to tidy up, but I know that if I give into those temptations, I'll forget this sweet memory. So here I am, blogging while my house is messy! It's therapy, right? I was actually able to leave for work this morning after noticing the aftermath of a storm that tore through the girls' bedroom. I had to breath through that one, keeping myself from picking up before leaving.

So about what the kids said. We were eating dinner last night (apple & bacon pancakes) when the topic of conversation turned to having kids. I forget how we got there, but I had asked Cora who would have to have kids, to make Nate and me grandparents. She wasn't totally sure, and eventually we explained how we could become grandparents. Then the conversation took a turn:

Nate: I hope someday you all can have your own kids
Louisa: Yeah, I want to
Cora: I don't want to have kids because they're too silly for me

(fast forward 24 hours, to tonight at dinner (venison and veggie stir fry)

Cora: how do you not have kids?
Louisa [before we could think of what to say]: can't you take a medicine or something?
Nate: You don't have to worry about that now, because you have a long time to decide whether or not you want to have kids.

Wow, these minds are active! And birth control? How does Louisa know about birth control? Perhaps I should read through It's Not The Stork again and see if it mentioned it?

Life is fuller these days since Peter started preschool, but life is good. We were able to sneak in two ice skating outings last weekend, which the kids loved. The first outing was on Friday. It was just for us girls (pink jackets required :) and we got all the sunshine and clear ice. Saturday was still great, but it had snowed about 1 inch after they already opened the rink for the day. Nate, Peter and Papa joined us this time and then we all went out for dinner at Pasqual's!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ready? Set. Create!

A few months before Christmas I decided that we were ready to start transforming another section of the attic into useful space. For more than just storage or sewing, that is. We kept our IKEA kitchen island that we bought in California. It served us well there, filling up lots of dead space in our oversized kitchen in Campbell. It has even earned it's keep as the perfect wrapping table here in our attic. Between last Christmas and this one, however, it started to acquire stuff. That's probably what prompted my motivation to transform.

What is it now, you ask? An awesome craft center. The girls may not have received the drums, American Girl dolls and horses that they asked for, but I think they're pretty excited about their new space. A few hints to gift giving aunts filled the little bins and back shelves quickly.

Another sweet part of the whole project was the Friday in mid-December when the kids didn't have school. We trekked down to IKEA, only after checking IKEA's website for height restrictions for Smaland. All three kids were in the zone of acceptable and now that Peter is mostly potty trained, it meant 1.5 hours of free shopping time for me! They had fun in Smaland and I had even more fun shopping for the accessories. I may not long for IKEA furniture at this point in my life, but they had some useful things to keep us organized. Well, at least me. We'll have to see if the set up keeps Lou and Cora organized. Next I think I need a clothesline for them to hang all their creations!

p.s. No, it doesn't always look this clean. I had to clean up for the photos :)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Trim

I try not to write about only one of our children, but Peter is just at that amazing age where you wish you could remember all the funny things he says. So here's my attempt to capture a few. But first let me give you an image of this funny, creative little man (who lived a few weeks bottomless to work on his potty skills).
The jagged drywall around the window without it's trim will serve as a before picture
The first story relates to the window trim, which I've been meaning to blog about. Remember when I used to blog updates on our house renovation ALL. THE. TIME? I suppose it's natural - and a good thing - that eventually you finish most of the projects so there is less to blog about. But anyway, the trim. Most of our windows have interior trim on them! The best story I never want to forget was a conversation between Peter and Nate and they came up from the basement shop with jams for the main floor windows. Peter is slowly climbing the basement steps behind Nate and says, "and those are the jellies?" Oh man did we laugh.

The playroom window, after, with curtains my mom saved from her time in Japan
Peter's first memorable airplane ride was in September. He loved it and these days, airplanes are central to his prayer requests. Perhaps I should call them prayer interjects. While someone is praying, he'll quietly say, "and airplanes." So whoever is praying will quickly add "we pray that someday soon we'll be able to go on an airplane together," or something like that. He also requested an airplane song before bed a few weeks ago, so Nate started singing Leaving on a Jet Plane. One line from the song got his brain thinking hard: Oh babe, I hate to go. We've explained many times that this is a time when it's okay to say that you hate something. A few days later, he looked me in the eye and in the sweetest most enduring way, said "I hate you mama." Oh boy. He also loves to ask (every time we sing the song), "what means babe?" We tell him that's what the singer must call his wife.

Sometime in the past month, Peter finally embraced potty training. We have a jar of M&Ms in our kitchen, so he'll come running in to announce his successes. He recently shouted, "I peed and pooped!  One M&M for pee and two for poop!" Helen asked him how many he gets and he replied, "Um, um, um...A LOT!" This was a similar computation he did back in August at Cora's school open house. Mrs. Douglas has a jar of starbursts for kids to practice estimation. Peter ran up and wanted to take one from the bowl (labeled For Eating) but I explained that first you had to guess how many were in the jar. He looked at it for a couple of seconds, then said "a lot."

I imagine this is the same concentration employed when he was trying to compute 1 + 2
One night the kids were having dinner with Oma while Nate and I went out with friends. They were talking about the difficult times in Puerto Rico while Peter was minding his own business. He all of the sudden started annunciating "Puerto Rico" pretty well, as the story goes. He occasionally says it now from time to time and it reminds me of the Fransisco scene in Elf.

On Saturday we were driving home from Home Depot (or Depots, as Peter calls it) and Peter must have seen some decorative candles lights in someone's windows or yard. He announced, "I saw some Roman Candles!" The only reason I can think that he would call them that is that last year, Cora's class went on a field trip to a local pizza place called Roman Candle, so now every time we drive by it, she get's excited and yells "There's Roman Candle!" It's just funny what a two year old stores away in their brain, only to pull it out six months later.

One last story. A favorite book of Peter's lately has been Dear Zoo. In it the child writes to the zoo, to send him a pet. The lion is too fierce, the camel is too grumpy, the frog too jumpy. Today he was playing with the camel from our PlayMobil Nativity set when I heard him say, "He's not too fierce. Guess he's mad."

We love your cheery soul and the way you make us laugh Peter (aka Buster Brown, Buddy, Pizza). And finally, a few more images of the newly hung trim!

Our bedroom 
Nate working hard while the kids eat breakfast
Guest room

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