Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Work Retreat & Disneyland

I almost forgot to blog about our quick weekend trip to Disneyland at the end of September!  Paul had a work retreat that we knew about for a long time but had planned on just him going since it was really only for attorneys and spouses but not kids and we didn't have anyone who could watch the girls for us for the weekend.  But just before the retreat, Paul was talking with one of the partners in his office who suggested we just bring the girls with us and bail on the Saturday activities to take them to Disneyland.  Which sounded good to us!  So we flew down Friday morning to LAX and dropped Paul off at Terranea resort for work meetings while the girls and I drove inland to visit Tabby for an hour since we were so close.  Then when Paul had a break before dinner, we went to check out the pool as a family and enjoyed swimming together.  The resort was absolutely gorgeous and right on the ocean.  We didn't spend much time there since we were gone the entire day on Saturday, but the pool and grounds were just lovely.  The girls were excited to swim with daddy since he doesn't get to swim with us very often even though we went at least once a week all summer.  Clara showed him how she can hold her breath and swim without floaties and Rose practiced floating on her back with him.

After swimming I got the girls cleaned up and took them out to dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby while Paul went to his firm's dinner.  But first we spent a little time just relaxing on the grass behind our room taking in the sun as it set over the pacific ocean.  Then it was early bedtime to be ready for Disneyland the next morning.

Disneyland was great.  The girls just loved it and did so well all day - no whining or complaining or anything and Rose even took a nap in the stroller in the afternoon, which we weren't sure she would be able to do.  Clara was tall enough to go on the big rides even and did Splash Mountain with me, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad twice (once with each of us), Space Mountain with Paul (she was brave about it and didn't cry but definitely did not want to go on it a second time), and Star Tours (twice with Paul because she liked that one so much - I can't do it because of motion sickness).  While we traded off riding with Clara on bigger rides, Rose got to do Winnie the Pooh or get a special treat like a frozen lemonade and she was happy as could be about that.

But the highlight of the day for both girls was definitely meeting the Princesses at the Fantasy Faire.  Belle, Cinderella, and Ariel were all there and they were so incredibly sweet with the girls.  Honestly, the girls that fulfill those roles at Disneyland are saints - they are so engaging and generous and personable.  I just love them.  And the girls were starstruck.

The other favorite things of the day were the Tiki Room (Rose loved the music), the Jungle Cruise, and of course, the parade.  Rose and I staked out a spot in the shade while Clara and Paul were doing their second Star Tours ride and she enjoyed playing in the street and clapping and dancing to the music, then coming back for fruit snacks before going back to trip up more people walking down Main Street.

The next morning we checked out of the resort and then got frozen bananas on sticks at Dad's Banana Stand on Balboa Island before heading to the airport to fly home.  It was a quick trip but nice to be able to do Disneyland as a family, especially since Paul hasn't been since before Rose was born.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015

It is hard to believe that we are in November now.  I swear it was just August.  Which is when, in past years, I have usually started sewing Halloween costumes.  This year, when we started talking costumes in July/August (I know, I'm crazy) Clara was adamant that we do a Little Mermaid theme so that she could be Ariel.  I took a "we'll see..." approach to that idea because honestly, I had no desire to do anything related to a disney princess.  But Paul and I could never quite come up with just the right theme and Clara kept campaigning for Little Mermaid, and finally, when September rolled around, Clara must have sensed my resistance to the idea and came up with a simple solution.  "Mom," she explained, "we should definitely do Little Mermaid.  I can just wear the mermaid skirt you made me for my birthday."  

It wasn't that her idea made things easier for me by not having to sew a costume for her that got me on board.  It was her earnest, hopeful approach to problem-solving how to accomplish her dream of being Ariel for Halloween.  That was it and I agreed with the one alteration to her plan - I would be Ursula instead of Rose, which was what she was thinking.  Although Rose would have made the cutest Ursula ever, I just didn't want her looking back in the future and feeling like, "why did Clara get to be the cute princess and I had to be the bad guy?"  And anyway, Rose made the absolute cutest Flounder in her bright yellow leotard.

But because I never felt super inspired about the theme, I kind of procrastinated getting costumes ready.  I actually just ordered wigs for each of us (except Rose who would have just pulled it off anyway), found Clara an amazing mermaid tail from a company online that sells swimmable mermaid swimming suits with fin inserts (I at least wanted something a little unique looking and not completely disneyfied for her, plus they had a purple tankini top that was way more modest than Ariel's purple seashells), ordered yellow tights, leotard, and blue pettiskirt for Rose (having made one in the past, I figured buying one was the way to go this time), and ordered a black corset and hoop skirt for my costume.  I made my skirt in about 4 hours the day before our Halloween party.  It didn't turn out quite like what I had in mind from examples I had seen online but I think that it gave a general sort of Ursula-ish idea, especially when seen next to everybody else's costumes and I didn't want to invest any more into it.  Paired with a purple cardigan I already had on hand and my costume was complete.  For Paul's costume I just used some red fabric to create a sash and slapped together some made up black boot covers, along with a white button up shirt and blue pants he already owned.  I finished Rose's costume the night before Halloween by adding some blue sequined stripes to her leotard and paired it with a pair of blue shoes that were hand-me-downs from Clara.

The morning of Halloween, we woke up early (the girls are keeping insane hours right now and it is kind of killing me but it worked out well for this photo shoot) and drove to Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz to take pictures in our costumes.  Paul got pulled over for speeding on the way there but fortunately the police officer let us off when he saw my insane Ursula makeup and two cheerful little girls in the backseats.  The weather was sublime - 70 degrees, calm, and sunny - and the girls were cooperative (for the most part - Rose got a little annoyed with me ditching the pose to check the camera on the tripod) and all in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.  And while I was taking individual shots, Clara was in her own little world being a mermaid right on the beach with the waves coming up on shore.   

In the afternoon, we went over to Rich & Claudia's for their annual cousin get-together before trick-or-treating.  They had donuts on strings for the girls and apple crisp and we had fun chatting before it started getting dark and we headed back to our neighborhood for trick-or-treating.

We trick-or-treated from about 6:30-8:30 and didn't hear one complaint or whine out of either girl the whole time.  Clara asked to ride in the stroller a little toward the end and Rose got carried for a bit, but mostly they were enthusiastic little candy collectors.  It only took 1 door for Rose to figure out that she was supposed to say "trick or treat" (although it all but unintelligible except for the correct number of syllables and an "eeee" sound), get the candy, say "happy halloween" (mostly a garbled "a" sound followed by a few "l" sounds) and then would stand and wave and cheerfully shout "BYE!" until they either shut the door or we dragged her away to the next house.  Most of the time she would offer up a piece of candy whenever someone would open the door, getting her role backwards in the transaction, which caused a lot of laughs.  And she did NOT want to let us carry her basket, even when it got so full of candy that she started just dragging it on the ground behind her because it got too heavy for her to hold up (at which point we would dump most of her loot into the stroller).

Clara had her best Halloween yet - in the past she has had a hard time and wanted to give up after just a few houses, but she kept going and going this time, telling us how brave she was with each "spooky" house and smiling proudly.  She also proclaimed at the start of the night that she was going to get lots and lots of candy to share with her family, the little sweetheart.  Lots of people complimented her costume (it was the wig that was really winning everybody over, and incidentally, she wore her walkable mermaid tail that I made for her for her birthday as her costume for trick-or-treating) and you could tell that she was feeling proud and shy about the recognition.  It was a wonderful night.

And even though these things happened a few days before halloween, I thought I would put some quick pictures up to show pumpkin carving with dad and Clara's preschool Halloween party where the kids performed 8 songs they had learned for their parents.  (Paul even took the day to work from home so he could come watch).  Both girls dug right into the pumpkin guts with no problems and Clara brilliantly "seeded" our grass with pumpkin seeds and has asked every day since whether any of her pumpkin plants are growing yet.

We absolutely love Clara's preschool.  It has been so, so good for her and she has great teachers and is making friends.  And since I have been able to work in the classroom 4 times now, I am getting to know the other kids in her class too, which is fun.  The kids gathered inside first to do circle time and part of their regular routine before going outside to parade and then perform for the parents.

Thevini, Clara, Arya, Lexi, and Nyla.  

Aisha, Elliana, Kent, Thevini, and Clara.

The kids had made and decorated sugar cookies in class and proudly carried them to their families after their performance was over.

This is one of Clara's little buddies - Lexi.  She is a sweetheart and has a sister Rose's age so she always goes out of her way to say hi to Rose when we do drop-off and pick-up

Clara with Mrs. James (left) and Mrs. Richards (right).  Mrs. Omo, her other teacher, was somewhere else when we were getting pictures.

And now to start planning next year's costumes (Clara is already saying Jasmine or witches but I have already tried to build in some leverage by declaring that it is Rose's choice next year)...