Friday, October 26, 2012

Week In Review!


What a week! On Monday, Mr. M and I went to the cast and crew screening of Flight - a movie he worked on last Winter/Spring. It is coming out on November 2nd - go see it! It is GOOD! :-)

I had my friend AND her nanny come over to watch the girls. I figured with two grown women (both mothers) watching the girls, everything would be fine. I was a little (okay A LOT) nervous about leaving Violet since it was the first time I have left her with a sitter. I did everything I could to prepare for the night, and she cried the whole time I was gone anyway. She really wanted her mommy!

Anyhoo- the screening was GREAT! It was at Paramount, on the lot, in their fanciest theater. Mr. M edited the crash sequence, and it was soooo gripping. I was literally gripping his arm the whole time! ;-)

Needless to say, I was super proud of Mr. M. This is his first big budget studio feature he's worked on, and it's directed by someone he greatly respects...and so, well, it was kind of a dream come true all-around. I could go on and on about how special it was to sit in that theater with Mr. M and see his work on the big screen, but I'll STOP already! Haha.

Afterwards there was a beautiful reception, and lots of fancy food, and I ate way too much and talked way too long. Maybe I need to get out more! Ha! ;-)


Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty much business as usual days. The girls were recovering from their LATE night on Monday.

Oh, that's right...when we got home on Monday night at midnight, the girls were still wide awake, hungry (of course), and not at all tired. So, they didn't get to sleep until about 1:30AM on Monday.

On Tuesday, I got my Halloween costume in the mail (it's a Giraffe costume). I had planned on Violet being a Baby Giraffe and me being a Mommy Giraffe.

I ordered Violet's costume from Ebay weeks ago, and it's been sitting in the closet. Well, as soon as Ginger saw MY giraffe costume, she decided that she wants to be a baby giraffe and NOT a purple butterfly for Halloween!

So, now Ginger (age 3) has claimed the Baby Giraffe costume as her own...and wants to wear it everywhere.  It's size 6-12 months!  But she still squeezes into it!

Well, you know me...I have backups.  I accidentally "won" on Ebay a set of giraffe pajamas for Violet- so now both girls can be Giraffes if they want to for Halloween.  All's well that ends well...


Yesterday we met up with some out-of-town friends at Disneyland! Whe we got to the park, I realized our camera was almost out of batteries, so we hardly got any pictures. Doh!

Oh well - great time was had by all and our friends took lots of pictures, so hopefully we'll get a chance to see their pictures soon. :-)


Paprika was very excited to show her Halloween costume to Merida.  Hello Mini Merida! :-)


The hair cracks me up!

Paprika was brave and met up with Mickey at his house.


I will never forget her first encounter with Mickey Mouse:


My girl has come a long way in (almost) 4 years!  For what it's worth, the room where they have you meet Mickey IS a little dark and scary and intimidating.   ;-)

 I can't believe I was pregnant with Ginger in that picture...that's how long ago it was.   Mickey hasn't aged a bit!


And last but not least, we rode the roller coaster. Ginger is big enough to ride it but she was too scared. Violet is too little, so I went with Paprika the first time, and then they let Mr. M go with her a second time.

Paprika told me later that she was SO scared her loose tooth was going to fly out of the roller coaster and into the lake down below.

Yup, you heard it here first. Paprika has a loose tooth. She is so excited and desperately wants the tooth fairy to visit her. She's even started writing her notes!

Today it was back to business as usual, and Daisy got a full beauty treatment! She needed it. :-)


And...that's the week in review! Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Letting Go!


****   This post was written yesterday, but I forgot to publish it!  Whoops!  :-)

Even thought it's Monday, it's still the weekend here.  No school today, so it's been extra luxuriously leisurely.  Ginger had her swim lesson on Saturday, Sunday we had a kids' birthday party...Saturday night Mr. M had a movie premiere to attend and tonight another one!   Mr. M has been working all weekend, so it's just been me with the kids. 

On Sunday, I braved the kid birthday party with all three little ones by myself.  It was CRAZY (probably 50 kids?! and 100 adults?!) ...or at least it seemed that way.  It was a beautiful party (Pinterest worthy) - and I could tell that every detail had been carefully considered.  But in the crowd, I found myself rather stressed keeping tabs on my three (now that Violet is walking) and making sure no one was trampled in the merriment.  Haha.  The kids had a great time - there was a huge bounce house, much to the delight of Ginger and Paprika!

I spent a good part of the weekend decluttering.  When you have three kids underfoot and none of them nap, it makes decluttering a whole sport unto itself.  I would put the kids in one area to play, and go clean/declutter a different area...only to have them become so interested in what I was doing that they would start un-doing all my "decluttering" work.  It was chaos...not organized chaos, just chaos!  Haha!

This year has been quite transformative for me in many ways - I know I don't go into it much on this blog, but I have been undergoing so many spiritual changes this past year.  I am open to changing and growing, and it's just been a great year for letting go of so much, and opening myself up to possiblity (I know this all sounds quite vague...).  ;-)

Anyhoo - part of my decluttering has been a shift in thinking towards minimalism.  I've been studying minimalism for quite some time now, and it is something I really strive towards in my life.  I can't say I have always been this way - but as I have become more conscious of advertising, spending, consumerism, etc...and especially its negative effects on children, I have been consciously moving towards a more minimalist life.

Most of the minimalists I read about are single guys who own nothing but a backpack and travel through Europe.  That is obviously not me!  ;-)  But, as I have been studying minimalism and applying its concepts to my life, I find so much of it freeing.

Of course, I have experienced life without owning any possessions (when my house burned down on June 8, 2000) - so it's not exactly new to me.  I have long known that stuff is just STUFF.  The more you have, the more you have to care for it.  Sometimes I feel like half my job is managing the stuff.  The things you own end up owning you...

Increasingly, I have been noticing a sort of disconent in my kids...that they are always WANTING more and more - and that their attention spans when they play grow shorter as the number of toys increases.  Back in August, I cleared out about half of their toys (donated most of them).  I immediately noticed that the kids were able to focus better and enjoyed their toys more when there were fewer.  I am not a hoarder by any means, but we did have A LOT of toys.

Well, this weekend, I decided to take it further.  I have always loved having their bookshelves teeming with children's books (can one every have enough children's literature available?) and their toy bins, while not overflowing, were still quite full.

I decided to experiment and put almost ALL of the toys and half of the books in the garage.  You would think that I would box up all the old toys and leave out the pretty almost NEW toys (that rarely get played with) - but instead, I did the opposite.  I boxed up all the toys that look practically new (because no one ever plays with them) - and I kept out only their very favorite, most loved and worn toys. 

I also kept on their bookshelves only the books they LOVE - and I boxed up all the books that are just kinda "meh" - ones that were just taking up space.

So, do you think they noticed that all their toys (I really do mean almost ALL) of their toys are now gone? 

No!  They didn't notice!

I guess before I was of the mindset that if one doll was great, then 10 would be better.  If one princess dress up outfit was good, then five would be amazing. 

But I was wrong. 

What was happening before my clear-out was that my kids would throw toys in the middle of the floor in a pile, play with one for a minute or two, then frenetically move on to the next.  They would argue over the toys...even though there were plenty of things to play with, one always wanted what the other had.  I felt like their gratitude for their toys was lacking- and that they were always asking/seeking for me to buy them new toys (can we got to Target and buy THIS or THAT?)

Anyhoo- I got out the garbage bags and put almost everything in them.  Ginger kind of freaked out at first, but I told her I was "just organizing" and then I put them all in the garage.  The girls thanked me for organizing and then the most magical thing happened. 

They played with their toys MORE.  They did not argue over them.  They did not ask for MORE toys.  They were happy with less.  Happier even than before!

So- now we have almost all of toys stored in the garage.  I will keep them in there for awhile and see if any are truly missed.  What is not missed will be going to charity soon enough. 

I think I am more broken up about breaking up with toys than my kids are (ironically enough).  I find myself wading through all sorts of emotions about this STUFF that occupies our house - Letting go is hard for a lot of reasons (wanting to give my kids everything, being attached to things, guilt about money spent).  But, I know ultimately that letting go is really the path to feeling free.

And ultimately, I don't want my kids attached to things.  I don't want them to think that things will make them happy.  I want them to find comfort in relationships with people, to use their imaginations to play, and to be creative and open in all areas of their life.  I should be quite happy that they don't care about the toys...they ARE just toys (useful tools) afterall.  Toys should facilitate their imagination and nothing more.

Already our house is feeling so much lighter - I can clean up the whole house in five minutes now (even when ALL the toys are out).  It is an amazing feeling. 

Letting go is hard, but with practice it's getting easier!  ;-)

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happy 11 Months!


Dear Violet,

You are eleven months old. I am in denial that in a few short weeks you will have your first birthday. This has been the fastest year of my life...I can't even wrap my head around how quickly it's going.

The first big news is that you are walking! On the day you turned 11 months old, you decided to get up and walk across the room. Well, not ALL the way across...but you did take your first big steps all by yourself. I kept thinking that if you hadn't been induced early, you would have been TEN months when you took your steps! ;-)

Anyway, I am so proud of you. In the past few weeks, you've started walking a lot. It is a gazillion times faster/easier for you to crawl, but a few times/day, you show off your walking skills. You are getting better and better with practice!

Second big news is that you've discovered the piano. I often find you playing little tunes to yourself on it. You will climb right up on the chair, plop yourself down, and start playing away. You could teach your older sister, Paprika, a thing or two about practicing piano! Haha.


You are into everything. And when I say everything, I do mean everything! Your favorite things to do are to empty out the refrigerator and all the cabinets in the house. Nothing is safe from your mayhem. When anyone opens the fridge, you race over to it, and just start pulling everything out as fast as you can. It gives you such joy, I can hardly stop you.

The cabinets are your other favorite thing to unpack. I have taken almost everything out of them...I know I could get those cabinet babyproofing locks for them...but 1) that would require me to buy them and install them (who has the time for that?!) and 2) it is more fun to watch you play.

I've just taken all the stuff you really can't have and put it in the high shelves, so the low shelves are your playground. You can make an orchestra out of pots and pans...and well, you DO! Daily!


You are a climber, just like your big sisters were at your age. I can never take my eye off of you because you like to live your life vertically! You can climb anything, and you do it without fear.

Every day, I put a new piece of furniture in the garage because I just can't keep you from climbing it! Before long we'll be eating dinner on the floor. ;-) I love your fearlessness and your love of exploring. I hope you never lose that.

You are go-go-go all the time, and then once in awhile, you take a nap! You are still napping in my arms, and sleeping beside me. You have eight teeth, with more on the way soon.  You are wearing 12-18 month clothes now, and you weigh about 25 pounds.  You have started to LOVE food (I have never met a baby who was as adventurous with food as you are!) - and you still love nursing. You are a mama's girl, and can pretty much always be found attached to my hip. :-)


You LOVE your sisters and your daddy, and you get so much joy out of spending time with them. You love to laugh and cause trouble...which is endlessly entertaining to your sisters, especially! ;-) You think you are all grown up, but you are still a baby to me!

 Happy 11 Months, my sweet baby Violet.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Patch!


Yesterday, all the stars aligned and we were able to make a family trip to the Pumpkin Patch.  It wouldn't seem like October without at least one trip!  ;-)  We have been going to this Pumpkin Patch for FOUR Octobers now, so it's kind of a tradition.  I remember the first year we went, Ginger was just a teeny tiny baby.  Now she's older than Paprika was on her first trip!

This place is about an hour's drive from us...there aren't many pumpkin patches down at the beach!  ;-)  But it is worth the drive.  We are having unseasonably warm weather right now, so it was like 100 degrees yesterday at the pumpkin patch!  We pretended it was a chilly Autumn day!  The farm had lots of shade and water misters, and since it was a Wednesday, nobody was there...we had the whole place to ourselves:


The girls loved picking out pumpkins.  Ginger said that all these pumpkins were "too big for our family."  So, we ended up going home with 5 small pumpkins (one for each of us) - and then we also got three little white pumpkins for our angel babies.  :-) 

I got that idea from Devon, because she always gets two white pumpkins for Blake and Ethan.  I had never seen white ones before, and then yesterday I did!  So, maybe now that will be a new tradition for our family, too.  Thanks, Devon!


We hit up the "hay ride" - which was really a tractor ride, without any hay!  Haha! Violet was being a daredevil, and wanted to stand up on the yellow planks while we were bumping all around on the ride.  We got a pretty great tour of the farm, and got to see all sorts of crops, butterflies, birds, flowers, and even some Christmas trees!  :-)


The rest of the time, Violet mostly rode in the Ergo, but she wanted to explore on her own so badly!  She is ready to get right there in the middle of everything:

: 10-17-12-8

We got lost in the Corn Maze - seriously lost.   Here we are at the beginning, full of optimism:


But we honestly could NOT find the way out.  We were in there a LONG time before we ended up just re-tracing our steps and coming out the way we came in.  I remembered back to the olden days, when I was in college and was invited to be in Mensa...and well, how far I have fallen since then - haha!  Oh, the things motherhood does to one's mental acuity. A noble trade-off.   ;-) 

Paprika thought getting lost was the funniest thing - we came upon a sign that said: You Look Cornfused (you know, like confused?)  I think we'll be talking about being CORN-fused for the forseeable future. Ha!


A big highlight was petting the farm animals.  There were friendly goats, sheep (who didn't want anything to do with the girls), a bunny rabit, and some chickens:


Ginger LOVED this bunny!


The girls were so excited to go on the train!  We had to do it twice.  The first time, they sat in the engine...the second time, they sat in the caboose!  Then, the guy working the ride saw how much they both loved it, so he let them ride the third time for free.  :-)


They were so excited about such a simple, little thing...they said it was just like being at Disneyland:


The pony ride is always my favorite part.  The big girls rode the ponies twice - and the second time they went, the girl working the ride said Paprika was too tall and that she couldn't ride (although she is still twenty five pounds under the weight limit)! The injustice!

So, we measured her and she is JUST a hair under the height limit. So, this is her last year she gets to ride. Next year, it will be Violet up on the horses and Paprika cheering her little sisters on from the sidelines. Sunrise, sunset.

This picture in the wooden train is kind of a tradition - last year, of course, it was just Paprika and Ginger.  This year, Violet had to get in there!  :-)


And here is Paprika just by herself.  We have pictures of her in this thing all through the years, and it is pretty awesome to see how she's growing and maturing.  One day I'll have to put together a little collage for her of all her wooden train pics!


Tricycle race with Mr. M driving Ginger.  Paprika had her own trike, but Ginger is still just a little too little:


Fun climbing the hay pyramid:


And last, but not least, the girls being pulled in the wagon.  We pulled them all over the farm (we always do) - and I think that is their favorite part of all!  By next year, Paprika will probably be too big to be pulled in the wagon. This growing up thing is harder on me than it is on the kids, I think! ;-)

Anyhoo- I am grateful for a great day at the Pumpkin Patch. Things will never be this way again, so I have to keep taking snapshots in my mind. :-)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Things They Say!

Because I will forget, I am WILLING myself to write down more of the funny things the girls say, and to photograph the flowers they pick for me (daily), their drawings, and their sweet cards. 

The other night, Paprika got so mad at me.  She rarely gets mad at me, and so sometimes I bite my lip keep from laughing when she gets upset with me.  On this night, I wanted her to try a piece of fruit (a grape), and she just wouldn't budge.  And I wouldn't budge.  So, there was an impasse...and for half an hour there, she was piping MAD at me!

She stormed off to her room and when she came out, she had a letter for me:


Ginger (age 3) is always saying hilarious and sweet things.  She is now officially in her "threes" and OH MY WORD, I am loving it.  She has been such a delight lately...

Yesterday, we had this little conversation:
Ginger:  Mom, will you build me a space ship?
Me:  (absentmindedly) Yes
Ginger:  Yay!!!!!!!!!!  Now I can go into outerspace and circle the planets.  And meet a little green guy with no arms or legs.  Just a gooey gooey body and big eyes.  And we can be friends!


Ginger (all the time):  Can I go WISH you?  Wherever you go, that's where I want to be!  I want to be WISH you, Mama.   


Paprika:  Mom, I thought of another homonym.  Bow and Bow!  And plain, plain, and plane!  And Bear and bear!  And...

Ginger:  I thought of a homonym!  (Pause)  Pizza!


Ginger (daily):  I love you with all my heart forever and ever.  I will never stop loving you.  You are my mama and I am your sweetieheart.

Does it get any better than that?! That makes up for the year she refused to wear clothes, had tantrums in public, and bit Paprika everytime she didn't want to share a toy.  ;-)


Before long, I'll have a list of funny things Violet is saying! Already she is talking up a storm in her sweet little baby voice. She says about 10 words I understand. She's got down: Mommy, dada, bird, ball, yes, all done, more, and...BANANA BREAD! All the important things in life, right?!

Here are two quick cellphone pictures I took of her today as she fell asleep JUST before we had to leave to pick up Paprika at school. I spent about two hours trying to get her to take a nap, and then just when I gave up...Boom! She fell asleep! Ah, well, it was a sweet six minute nap and we both enjoyed every moment of it! Ha!

violet-sleeping 3  
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Glorious Weekend!


I haven't been blogging as much lately because I can hardly ever find time to get on the computer, upload my pictures, and have a second to write. When I do have "downtime" - it usually consists of me holding a sleeping baby Violet. She is 11 months now, and I feel her babyhood slipping away.


I don't want to miss a moment of it, so I often find myself just staring at her when she's sleeping. I find it to be a pretty great use of my time! ;-)

I have been volunteering in Paprika's classroom on Thursdays (Mr. M's day off work). It is great to get in there and see her in her "element" - working at something that is becoming an increasingly large part of her life.


This past week was the library field trip and only five parents got to go. I know that sounds funny, but a lot of parents wanted to go...but the library had a limit. ;-)

I got to go because I am the classroom photographer (second year in a row). Wow, how I love that job. Super easy and it gets me a front row, all-access pass to all the fun classroom activities. I'm photographing the Halloween parade in a few weeks. How great is that?!


Paprika loves having me or Mr. M at her school volunteering. She looks forward to it so much and she is so proud of us. My heart really tugs at me, wanting to homeschool Paprika. I think that may be in the future for our family, but for right now, this going-to-school thing is working.

Paprika loves being in the classroom (why I do not know) - and loves all her little friends. Even though she is YEARS ahead in school-work, she tells me she is not bored. I think she likes the "novelty" of school...which may lose its luster before too long. But maybe not!

At home, she keeps busy with all kinds of studies. She is reading voraciously and reads at about a 5th grade level now. She loves writing, making up stories, creating her own math problems, learning about science and history, playing outdoors, and of course...spending time on the computer. Paprika never met a computer she didn't like! ;-) She is trying to learn digital animation and I often find her creating art on the computer (mostly just Microsoft Paint) - or working on her iPad making her "masterpieces" (as she calls them). Yesterday she learned what a blog is (from Brainpop, Jr.) and she wants to write a blog. Oh boy!


Our weekdays are busy. I don't like that term "busy" because sometimes it just seems like an excuse of why you can't do this or that. But really, our weekdays are quite packed. Monday through Thursday are all about school and swim practice. Mondays are my "crazy" days because that day we also have Paprika's piano lesson. Then the evenings are filled with homework (ugh) and piano practice (usually about 30 minutes/night).

While Paprika is at school, that is my time with just Ginger and Violet. On Friday, I took them both to the library and got Ginger her very own library card! I checked the whole collection of Elephant and Piggie books for her and Paprika (those are their FAVORITE books).  Ginger picked up a few romance novels she wanted to read! Haha. She liked the "princess" covers. ;-)


We also go to the park quite a bit, and in general just have "downtime" during the hours Paprika is at school. I usually try to get Violet to take a nap while Paprika is at school, but I don't have a very good track record with that! She usually has other ideas! Ha!


Then on the weekends, the glorious weekends...we do NOTHING!  Haha.  Well, we used to try to do a lot.  And we still do some things.  But when Mr. M is working on Dancing With The Stars, he always has to work on the weekends.  I used to feel kind of bad about that - like I was missing out because every other family was doing this or that amazing thing on Saturday and Sunday.  But what I realized (recently) is that after having a very busy and full week ALL week long...running from this activity to that the kids really just want to be home on the weekends.

Sure, we go to the park still (usually at least one park/day) on the weekends.  And we play in the backyard a lot.  And we go out to dinner usually on Friday and Saturday nights as a family.  And if there is a birthday party or what not, we will go to that.  So, it's not like we are sitting home all weekend.

I guess what I mean is that we try to have a lot of unstructured free-time on the weekends since our weekdays are so tightly scheduled.  I love it that on the weekends, we don't have to BE somewhere at a certain time.  Or stress if we don't go to this festival or that event.  We let the kids decide what to do on the weekend, and if it means just hanging out most of the day and playing hide-and-go seek in the backyard, or building a fort out of bedsheets, or painting on the kitchen table...that is what we do!

I do make the girls get dressed (so we can go anywhere at a moment's notice if we choose) - but they pick out their own clothes and do their own hair.  Sometimes the hairstyles are more "bird's nest" than anything else...but hey, it's the weekend!  ;-)


So, lately, instead of dreading the weekend (because I'm home alone with the kids all weekend) - I have come to really look forward to it.  To let out a big sigh of relief.  No swim schedules, no chance of being late for school, no piano lessons to make, no homework to get done...just time to relax and enjoy.  In the way that works for our family.

I think it's the time we ALL look forward to every week...and yet, if we didn't have so much going on during the week, I think it might not seem so special and relaxing.  At least that's what I'm telling myself!  ;-)


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