Monday, August 31, 2009

Breath of Fresh Air


We drove down to the beach today and enjoyed breathing some fresh, clean, cool air. Ginger fell asleep to the sound of the waves, and napped in the Baby Bjorn. You can see her feet peeking out from underneath the white cover in this picture:


Paprika is a beach girl, through and through. She had a great time playing in the sand and splashing in the water. It's was a nice break from the heat, smoke, and ash from the fires.


It felt like a whole world away from what we've been experiencing in Pasadena.


Blue skies, cool air, warm sandy beaches...this is the reason to live in California!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Station Fire Out of Control!

The fire I saw on my way to McDonald's on Thursday has now spiraled out of control. Here are a few pictures, taken from this Los Angeles Times article.

Our house is safe, but the smoke and ash has been horrendous. If you go outside, it hurts to breathe. Yesterday we went to Burbank for a few hours, and it looked like a nuclear bomb had been detonated over La Canada-Flintridge and Pasadena. It looks apocalyptic here.

Many of the homes in Briggs Terrace have been destroyed. This is the area we have been zeroing in on in our housing search. We've seen about twenty homes there in the past few months. It's a wonderful area, perched right on the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, with an awesome public school system.

Many of the homes in Briggs Terrace are (or were) 100 years old. It's a really special place, and I hope that it's still standing after the smoke clears.

Over the past two/three months, we have dialed back our housing search because we had Ginger. If we hadn't had Ginger, we probably would have bought a new house in this area in June or July. I guess that's why this is affecting me so much. I am just speechless at how easily this could have been us...and we could have lost our home and been in the middle of this giant blaze.

I feel lucky to be in the neighboring town of Pasadena, removed from the blazing foothills. We are covered in smoke and ash, but I know that all this will pass. I feel so awful for the unlucky families whose homes have now been destroyed, or who will be dealing with the effects of smoke damage to their homes and belongings for years to come. The fire has been devastating to much of the wildlife in the area, and of course, the beautiful forest is gone...for now. It will grow back with time, which is one hopeful ray of light in an otherwise horrific situation.

Thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is living through the fire.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hiding Out From The Fire

The fire in La Canada-Flintridge is raging. The house we really wanted back in May...the one I have been kicking myself for not snatching up soon is in the middle of the burn zone and is likely destroyed by now. If not by now, then in the next few hours. That view from the backyard is gone. It has all burned. So sad. When we were viewing the house in May, the owner kept saying there wasn't a reason to worry about fires because, "this area hasn't burned in 50 years" - to which Mr. Mustard replied, "well, then it's probably overdue for a fire."

Mr. Mustard is really so much smarter than I give him credit for! I can't imagine having just bought this beautiful house, having to evacuate with a 10 week old baby and a three year old, and watching as our home and everything we own is destroyed by fire. I am really counting my blessings today.

I'm not saying that our house in Pasadena is safe. The fire keeps getting closer, and the air quality is horrible. But, if we'd bought that house at the top of Canyonside Rd., we would definitely be homeless now. Awful.

So, we've been hiding out inside to avoid the horrible air quality. Today, we spent the whole day inside with the air conditioning running and the air filter on high. I went out on our porch once to take this picture:


That big tower of smoke is from the fire burning up in the mountains. When I came back inside it felt like I had swallowed an ash tray's worth of ash and it hurt to breathe. It was so nasty that I knew we were going to be staying indoors. I didn't even want to take the girls out for a drive because they'd have to be outside to get into the car. The air quality is really awful.

So, instead we had fun indoors. Paprika soaked in the tub for a long time and "scrubbie scrubbied" all of her dolls and bath animals. Then she put all of her dolls to bed and read them bedtime stories like "Paddington Bear."


Paprika sang her dolls songs, of course. Then she would leave the room, come back in, wake everyone up, get them dressed and start all over again. It was pretty funny.


Ginger had a good time watching Paprika do all of this. She just laid on the bed and looked at her with her big brown eyes.


And then she'd look at me...


All in all, a good day...all things considered!


Fire On The Mountain


This was the view from our front porch yesterday. Turns out the fire I saw as we were going to McDonald's yesterday is turning out to be a big deal. Here is an article that was on my Yahoo News feed this morning.

That big cloud is smoke, and the red part down below is the glow from the fire. We're close to the fire, but not close enough to be threatened. It would have to burn through all of La Canada-Flintridge and into Pasadena to get to us. If that happens, we'll have lots of warning, and be able to get out with days to spare. Having lived through a house fire and escaped with seconds to spare...I would appreciate having a few days notice the next time a fire destroys my house. ;-)

I think about that house that we almost made an offer on back in May...the one perched right on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. I hope it's okay. The new owners closed on Ginger's birthday, June 18th. They just moved in, and now the Angeles National Forest (their backyard) is on fire. How is that for a house warming present? Bad joke, sorry. I do feel awful for them. I'd love to drive by the house and see if it's okay, but I'm pretty sure the roads are closed leading up to the house.

So, it's too smoky to go outside today again. I'm going to have to figure out more fun things to do with Paprika indoors. Play-doh, drawing, reading...and when all else fails, Princess dvds!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deja Vu


I took these pictures today of Ginger on her 10 week birthday! We spent a little over three hours today at the McDonald's Playland again. It was the only air conditioned place I could think of where we could avoid inhaling all the smoke and ash from the brush fires up in the mountains. We drove over to McDonald's and there was a HUGE fire on the mountain right at the exit where we were getting off. The whole top of the mountain was engulfed in flames. But, it seemed contained, and I was pretty sure it wasn't going to reach the McDonald's, so we went anyway.

I was much more prepared today and brought Paprika several changes of clothes...but she didn't need them today! It was a much calmer day than our last vist, thank goodness!


Paprika likes to climb to the top of the slides they have there and then jump over to the fireman's pole and slide down. She has so much fun, it's been a great find. I can sit and have a drink, feed Ginger, and I am close enough to be right there for Paprika.

We stayed until Paprika wanted to go home (about three hours)- and I know I have to go to there sparingly, otherwise Paprika is going to get really tired of it...and I don't want that!


It is a little loud and crazy...but once you tune out the wailing babies and the screaming four year olds, it's no so bad! ;-) I even managed to have a great conversation with my Aunt Laura on the phone. She just sent her youngest child off to college, and so we had a chat about how bittersweet that was, how fast childhood goes, and how important it is to be fully present in your children's lives.


I feel really lucky that I am able to stay home with these girls. Sometimes I think about how exciting it would be to be working in film/television, and going back to that life. Or how exciting it would be to be making bank at a big law firm as an attorney.

But nothing...and I mean, nothing is better than being with these girls. Even with the wailing children at McDonald's, and the lack of sleep, and cleaning up much poop.


I realized all that before we lost Vivian and Annemarie, of course, but I don't think I felt it as deeply. I don't think I took each breath for the gift that it is. What we went changed me. It changed me in some ways for the better, and probably for worse in other ways. Every day I look at these girls and pray that they will be here tomorrow, and the day after that, and that some day I'll get the chance to see them grown. But I know there's no guarantee.

So, I relish each crazy moment I spend with them, and know it's all going by way too fast for me. My family is my life, and every moment I get to spend with them is a gift I'm not sure I deserve, but one I am so grateful to receive.


On a lighter note, I had deja vu when I took these pictures today! I looked back at old pictures of Paprika, and found these! Paprika was 7 weeks old in the pictures below (3 weeks younger than Ginger). You could say that Paprika has always had a flair for the dramatic! She was such an expressive, dramatic baby...something that is true to this very day!

Back then, she liked to mug for the camera. Now she says things to me like, "No pictures, please!" A diva in training! ;-)





10 Weeks!

Ginger is 10 weeks old today! She celebrated by staying awake until 4am last night. She woke up at 8:30am to eat, and then went back to sleep. That would be great except that Paprika woke me up right at 9am this morning, so I slept from 4am til 8:30am...and that's it. 4.5 hours of sleep. Grrrrr. That seems to be the norm this week. One good thing about Paprika being at preschool is that when I have those late nights with Ginger (which is most nights), at least I can get some sleep before I pick Paprika up from preschool.

I just have today and tomorrow...then Mr. Mustard will be home this weekend...then preschool starts on Monday.

There is a big fire in the hills of Los Angeles, and it's been going on for a few days now. The air quality is so bad that we can't go outside today. The air is full of ash and so smoky. Paprika is already bouncing off the walls. Should be an interesting day! ;-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pool Day, Milestones, and Quirks


We spent most of the afternoon at the pool. It was nice and low-key. Paprika will be excited going back to preschool on Monday, but I am really loving having her home in the mornings this week. I thought it would be "too much" for me, but it has been really manageable. I think she gets really tired at preschool, and then won't nap, which makes her really hard to handle in the afternoons. Since she's been home this week, she's been getting more rest at night (but still not napping) and not getting so worn out. It's made life easier, actually...which surprised me!


Ginger is very peaceful and sweet. She loves "talking" to us, and she is full of smiles. She is super laid back, and loves to be wherever we are. As long as she is close to me, she is very happy. She has very good neck control and can hold her head up for a few minutes at at time. She's still wobbly and gets tired after a few minutes of holding her head up, though.

Ginger can roll from side to back now, and she is so strong! Her 0-3 month pants look like capri pants, but I am having such a hard time putting those 0-3 month clothes away. I feel like she just started wearing them, so I am in denial that they could really be too small already. Mr. Mustard tells me that the longer I wait to put her in 3-6 month clothes, the less time she will get to wear those clothes. I bought this outfit for her, and she wore it for the first time the day after she was born. It was SO huge on her then, and now she is too big for it. Amazing.


Paprika has some funny three year old quirks I want to remember. The newest one is that whenever she doesn't know someone's name, she calls them "Alice." "Hey Alice, come here and play with me!" It doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl- a two year old or a six year old. Everyone is "Alice." We don't even know anyone named Alice!

Paprika loves princesses...I mean, she loves them! She loves musicals, and performing more than anything else. She loves acting out skits, memorizing scenes from movies, and performing them for me. Yesterday, she put on a half hour play for she memorized from one of her many Princess movies we have on dvd.

She loves to sing. But she doesn't like it when I sing (still). This has been the case since she was an infant! She likes me to sing her a song when she's falling asleep at night (Bye Bye Miss American Pie or Rockabye Baby). Other than that, if I start singing, she will get so upset and tell me to stop. But, if I sing to Ginger, she doesn't mind that at all. I think because she loves Ginger so much and knows a mommy is supposed to sing to her baby.

We are looking in to starting dance classes for Paprika. I think with all of her energy, she would really enjoy it. It would give us something to do in the long afternoons/evenings. Mr. Mustard has been working a lot again. This is his last week on Extreme Makeover Home Edition - next week he starts working on Dancing With The Stars again. He is also working on The Doctors when time permits. Needless to say, I am alone with the girls a lot and want to find fun, enriching things to do with them!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

McD's Playland


Today our big outing was to McDonald's PlayPlace. We have a McDonald's near us with a huge playstructure, and Paprika loves going there. I wanted to go at an off-time because if you go right at lunch or dinner, it's really crowded. It was 95 degrees here today, so going to an outside park was not an option.

So, we showed up at McDonald's at 2:30, and it was packed. Turns out we arrived just as a big family reunion was happening. They all went back to the PlayPlace room and took up all the seats. There were about 30 adults (mostly men) and 2 children. We got our food, and went to sit down, but there was nowhere to sit. So, there I am, trying to figure out a spot for us and of course Ginger starts crying because she woke up and was hungry.

Paprika had already gone inside the playstructure, so I couldn't go into the other part of the restaurant...what could I do? I had to feed Ginger, and I couldn't leave Paprika.

So, I got out my nursing cover and fed Ginger standing up right there in the middle of this crowded room full of strangers! It was so awkward because I know they were looking at me like, "what is she doing?" Nothing like having a bunch of strange dudes stare at you while you attempt to feed your hungry baby.

Then, Paprika ran out of the Playstructure screaming, "there's poop in my underwear!" and sure enough, there was. So, there I was, standing up breastfeeding Ginger in a packed room full of men and Paprika was yelling, "It's yucky! I have poop all down my leg! Wipe me, Mommy!!!"

So, then I took Paprika to the bathroom (still breastfeeding Ginger to keep her from crying), all the while Paprika was screaming..."I don't want to go into the bathroom. The hand dryer is scary! I don't like it when the toilet flushes! Don't use the hand dryer, Mommy! Don't flush the toilet!"

I got her in the bathroom and realized that I forgot to pack her a change of underwear. And, of course, she was wearing a dress...lovely!

The whole mess was disgusting, and the underwear was beyond dirty. I dealt with that (still holding Ginger and still attempting to breastfeed). By the time we got out of the bathroom, the family reunion was heading out the door - thank goodness! All I wanted was to sit down and eat my food! Finally, a place to sit!

So, yup, I let Paprika play in the PlayStructure just in her dress while I enjoyed my meal. Then a bunch of older kids showed up, and I didn't want Paprika to get embarrassed if one of them noticed her without underwear. Plus, I was bracing myself for the inevitable: the next accident...and this one woudn't be so contained. I was having visions of having to go into the kiddie playstructure, find the poop, and deal with cleaning that up.

So, after I scarfed down my meal, I somehow persuaded Paprika to leave. That involved lots of tears and drama, too... Got on the freeway just in time for rush hour to begin!

Who knew going on a simple trip to McDonald's would be such a pain in the butt?! Literally!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Ginger's Two Month Doctor's Visit


We just got home from Ginger's 2 month check-up. Her stats are:

Height: 24.5 inches (above 99th percentile)
Weight: 12 lbs., 6 oz. (85-90th percentile)

I asked the doctor if I should be concerned about Ginger "being so small," since Paprika weighed over 2 pounds more at this age and was an inch and a half longer. The doctor had a good laugh about that! Ginger was in the same percentile at her last appointment, so she is gaining weight at a nice, even pace.

She is off the charts for height, so it looks like we have another tall girl on our hands. A long, lean, tall girl. Defintely a supermodel or a WNBA player! Or both! ;-)

Paprika came to the appointment, too, and she was a pretty great girl. She wanted to be very helpful with the "flashlight" (the light they shine in the baby's eyes), and the doctor let her help shine the light, which Paprika thought was very neat.

Paprika made a point to tell the doctor all about her "big girl panties" and going on the potty. Thankfully, our doctor is a woman with a two year old at home, so she thought Paprika was hilarious.

Which reminds me...Paprika's preschool teachers told me a funny story last week. Apparently, during story time, Paprika stopped the class right in the middle of the story. Paprika said, "stop reading, I have something to say!" So, they said, "go on, Paprika, what do you have to tell us?" And Paprika announced in her most clear voice, "Hey Everybody, Guess What?!! I'm wearing Big Girl Panties!"

She is very proud, and so are we! :-)

I'm very thankful for a good doctor's appointment for Ginger today. She is big, growing, thriving, healthy, and just as sweet as she can be!

Big Changes

This summer Paprika has changed so much. All in one summer, she:

Started Preschool (July 1, 2009)
Potty Trained (July 2009)
Moved Out of Her Crib Into a "Big Kid Bed" (August 22, 2009)

Yep, that's right...Paprika not in her crib anymore! She's loves her new bed, and it's a perfect size for her.

She transitioned out of her crib so easily, it didn't feel like a transition at all! She has had freedom to get out of her crib for about 6 months now- that's when she started climbing out of it in the morning. We lowered the rail on her crib and put a big stepping ottoman for her to climb down on. So, really she's had the freedom to get out of her crib for months and months.

At three years old, we decided it was time for her to have her own bed. She was definitely ready. We found the cutest toddler bed and matching bedding on Craigslist (of course!). We brought it home on Friday night, set it up on Saturday, and she was sleeping in it by Saturday night. So cute!


We had a good weekend. Saturday we took both girls to La Salsa for lunch, and hung out around the house. After Paprika went to bed, Mr. Mustard and I watched Frost/Nixon on dvd while Ginger slept in the Baby Bjorn. Great movie! We both enjoyed it so much.

On Sunday, we went to an Open House for a house that is a little out of our price range. We figure it will probably fall into our price range soon because it's not we went to check it out. It was really awful- the owner was hanging out around the backyard in her bathing suit, chain smoking cigarettes. The house was dirty and horribly outdated, and smelled like stale cigarettes. Yuck!

So, we didn't stay there long. After we left, we took Paprika to the McDonald's PlayPlace and let her play with the other kids in the air conditioned cool. She had a great time, but then the other kids left and she was by herself. She didn't like that. She is so social, and outgoing. We overheard her talking to another little girl, and Paprika sounded like she was 9 years old all of a sudden. She said to the other little girl, "Oh, that's my daddy over there." The way she said it was so nonchalant and grown up.

Ginger is so interested in faces and people. She is very comforted by holding my hand, and likes to fall asleep holding onto my fingers. When she wakes up, she is smiling and laughing. She loves looking at the big black and white photos on our wall, especially the huge one we have of Paprika at 2 months old. Ginger loves it when Paprika talks to her and kisses her. She really lights up when Paprika is around. Ginger's reflux is definitely better now. She is much less fussy, and although she still wakes up quite a bit at night, I like it because we get that one on one time I would be missing otherwise. I know how fast this stage goes, so I am enjoying every second of it while it's here.

As far as the house thing goes, I am ready to find some place bigger for us, but trying not to get too worked up about it. The biggest issue for us is the lack of yard because Paprika is the most active child. Being inside our small space is really difficult for her. She is bouncing off the walls after just an hour or two inside. I would love to have a house with a playroom for her, and a backyard.

I think things will get better when it cools off outside enough that I can take her to the park, and when Ginger is big enough to be a little bit more robust. When Ginger gets to the age I can put her in the Ergo and she can control her neck more, I will feel more confident chasing after Paprika in public. Right now Ginger is still so little and delicate, I can't run after Paprika if she takes off in public. And she will take off in public. She's fast and fearless.

I remember when we moved into our townhouse how huge we thought it was, and now we are bursting at the seams. That's a good thing, I think! I know we'll find something, I just need to be patient about it and make the best of things while we're here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last Day Of Summer


Today was the last day of Paprika's summer preschool. Having her at preschool from 9-12 am, Monday through Friday has been so good for all of us. Since Paprika doesn't nap anymore, it gives me some alone time with Ginger, and lets me get caught up around the house. Paprika has loved being at preschool, and looks forward to it every day.


When I pick her up, all she does is talk about her teachers, her friends, everything they did that day, the songs they sang, and all the artwork they've made. We have enough of Paprika's artwork to fill a gallery. ;-)


Paprika will have a week off, and I know she's going to miss everyone at school so much. Fall preschool starts the next week, so she won't have to wait long to see everyone again. She will be in the 3 year old class - she potty trained right in time- yea!


Ginger turned 9 weeks old yesterday! She is getting so big. We have her doctor's appointment on Monday and I'm interested to see how she's growing. I think she's tracking similarly to Paprika. At Paprika's 2 month appointment, she was almost 15 pounds and was 26 inches long. She was in the 99% for weight and height. I think Ginger will be similar- she feels heavier to me now and she is definitley chunking up. She is also growing so tall.

Ginger is trying so hard to talk to us. When we talk to her, she will look in our eyes and answer back with her baby coos. She also smiles and laughs whenever we talk to her. She will look right in our eyes and let out a giggle. It's not quite a big belly laugh yet, but I'll take a giggle any day of the week.

Paprika has had a great time being a big sister to her. She wants to do everything- including "pump the baby's milk"- that has proved interesting...since she takes my pump and hooks it up to her bellybutton. She has the right idea, though!

Ginger only likes to sleep in my arms or in the Baby Bjorn, which is why I have perfected the art of typing one handed...doing everything one handed, actually!

Sometimes I am amazed at the things I get done while holding her. Yesterday, I went to the bathroom, nursed Ginger, changed Paprika's dress, and fed the cat all at the same time. This is definitely not how I envisioned my life when I was in law school, but I am loving it more than I could ever have imagined.