Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Summer 2011 - The Second Half (August)

And for a change, I start by writing about me: August was great. I started working out with my personal trainer and am loving it. Though there are sessions where he seriously kills me slowly and steadily, it feels awesome to be back in the gym. AND in my new, size 2 jeans. [insert big grin] The day that I went shopping for new Fall clothes and I tried on the size 4 jeans, they were too wide. Wahoo, Hallelujah, praise Xavier (my trainer).

To continue the whole “health” thing, I signed up for an organic veggie & fruit service: once a week I pick up a crate filled with fresh, organic (pesticide & fungicide free) seasonal fruits and veggies, grown by local farmers.

Thank you Jamie Oliver and your Food Revolution for inspiring me! It is exciting as a box may very well contain items that I otherwise would not buy at the store, thus pushing my experimental cooking boundaries. I’m loving it. We’ve discovered some awesome new dishes already :-)

On August 15, I wrote on my Facebook: “Laundry, cleaning, sorting, tidying, organizing, children, swimming lessons, cooking - Just another Monday.” That’s what the average August day looked like. And thus, as busy moms, we once in a while deserve a little down time. Mine came in the form of a wine and cheese evening with mommy friends. Everyone brought her favorite wine, paired with a cheese. The result? A fun-filled evening with lots of laughter.

Ah, and then there was “MWO 2011”, or in other words: “Mom’s Weekend Out 2011” – the annual tradition of our mommy group, established in 2009. In 2009 we rented a house in Palm Springs and had a wild time. In 2010 we spent a weekend in Santa Barbara and had a laid back time. This year we went to the Glen Ivy Hot Springs and had a soothing and relaxing time:
First things first: there are items that need to remain chilled in the hotel room’s fridge.

The rest of the weekend was filled with delicious foods, drinks, mud, and great company:

Enough about me. On to the children.

Kai discovered something new and fun: walking on Mommy’s back. He loved it. I loved it. Match made in Heaven.

One Sunday we had a Kai & Mommy morning. For the first time in both our lives we ventured out and explored LA’s public transportation…

Yes, we took the bus and the subway to Hollywood and Highland where we walked around, enjoyed ice cream and played in the fountain.

Fun, Fun, Fun!

Oh yeah, and this month marked the first time of Kai announcing that I was a “Rock Star Mommy”. AWESOME!

After 8 weeks of intense work play, the gymnastic classes came to an end.

And after 14 swim classes the day finally arrived that things clicked for Kai. All of a sudden he “got it” and the resistance had had up to that point vanished:

Out of nowhere he swam half way across the pool - by himself, face in the water, eyes open.

He LOVED it. From that moment on, all I heard was "I want to swim more, I want to swim more".

I could not be prouder of my boy. Needless to say, swim lessons ended on a great note this year and we are both looking forward to next year’s classes.

August also “celebrated” the day when I officially announced that I now officially had “two children who are capable of throwing tantrums”. It was one of those afternoons where temperatures forced you into the mall. So, we went. As most malls, this one had a fountain – a point of gravity for most children under the age of 5 and thus also for mine. Though Kai got it, Ryder didn’t quite accept the “don’t jump in the fountain” warning from me. Oh, the scene that followed… (Use your imagination – I’m sure you’ll do just fine)

At his 18 month check up this month, Ryder weighed in at 33lbs. 9 oz. and he measured 36” long. That was the max on the “baby” measuring table. At 18 months he had outgrown the pediatrician’s baby-measuring table. Bless his appetite.

By the way, the boys are letting their Dutch heritage shine through – happy me: they both became fascinated [strike through] obsessed with putting money in their piggy banks. We actually bought one of those clear plastic banks for Kai, the one with a “slide”: you put the money in, it zigzags down and each coin falls in the appropriately sized chute. I remember always wanting one of those when I was a kid, so when we found this one – in the shape of a jukebox – I just had to buy it for Kai. Ryder too, loves LOVES getting his hand on change. He’ll run to this room, do everything he can to pull his ceramic piggy bank off the shelf, put it on the ground, and put his money in. Very concentrated. Once the money is in, he claps in his hands and gets the biggest grin on his face. Yes, they’re half Dutch. Awesome.

And last but not least: there was the boys’1/2-year birthday bash. Given that their actual birthdays are in February and we have more friends than we can have inside, the kids’ party takes place in August, when everyone can be outside and there is plenty of room for everyone to run, jump, swing, play, eat and drink.

It was a fun day with tons of yummy foods and drinks,

,a great Lightning McQueen & Mater birthday cake with waaayyyy too much food coloring,

tons of kids running around on too much sugar, a bouncy castle

and a whole lot of fun.

And so, the 2nd half of summer comes to an end. It was a great month, with tons of excitement and fun – for all of us.


Monday, November 14, 2011

July '11 - The First Half of a Great Summer

July in Los Angeles = Heat.  And what better way for 2 toddlers to confront that heat than with a water hose?

It looked like the boys started to get along better.  The times playing together were getting longer, the fights were getting shorter and more spread out.
That is not to say though that the “caliber” of the fights was anything less than “explosive” though… In the afternoon, Kai LOVED to join me in getting Ryder out of his crib after naptime.  So sweet to see him so excited with the prospect of seeing his baby brother again.  (Long may this last!!)  One afternoon, he stormed into Ryder’s room with a “Hey Ryder! You're awake Bubba!"  [sigh] [heart melts].

The summer was a busy one.  July marked the beginning of summer school, swimming lessons and gymnastics.  Apparently all this starts at age 3.  I don’t think I started with swimming lessons until I was in elementary school.  Surprising, given that I grew up in The Netherlands, a country that is for 25% located below sea level.On July 10 I posted on Facebook that I put my 17-month old in a size 3T pajamas.  It fit perfectly.  Did I mention the kid likes to eat?  Yeah, he does – and he does it in style:

This is the bottom shelf of my fridge on an average day:

Not realizing he’s just a bit big for the Bumbo Seat:

Though many problems can be solved with food, there are some (problems / situations) where even food doesn’t work.  They are rare, but they do exist.  Ryder’s first hair cut was one of them.  Not grooving on that so much.  It involved lots of screaming (by him) and fighting (also by him.  However, here’s the transformation:

So, summer school: Kai changed schools this summer and prior to starting the new school year at his new school, he was going to have 3 weeks of part-time fun in its Summer School program.  When you have a stubborn child who LOVES routine, it’s a bit of a challenge to explain why he is going to move to a different school.  Until one day one of my friends Facebooked me (is this even a verb?) and double checked that Kai was going to start school the following day, so that Kai and her daughter Madison could meet up in front of the school before classes started.  Oh, there was the incentive and the timing couldn’t have been better: Madison.  Kai likes Madison.  Kai LOVES Madison.

As soon as I told him that he would see Madison the next day at school, all reservation were ‘poofed’ away.  As if they had never existed.  Thank you, thank you Sweet Madison!  From that moment on, the thought of school was GREAT!  The following day, Kai and Madison met up before school.  Unfortunately they were in separate classes, but Kai accepted that and had no problems getting started at his new place of learning:

Madison waited for him after school.  They met up before school the following day.  She waited for him afterwards.  This went on for the entire length of summer school.  Until Madison went on vacation.  Kai missed her very much.

Summer school was great.  As a toddler you know that it's gonna be a good day when you have to wear your swimsuit to school and when you walk in you are sitting down next to your friends at a plastic table with the only thing on it being cans of shaving foam. Darn, I wish I was a toddler going to summer camp.  Then there was “Pony Day”.  The day that the kids were visited by 3 ponies to pet, learn about and (I believe) feed.  How awesome?!?!  Again, I wish I was a toddler in Summer School.  Needless to say, summer school was a success.

While Kai was in school, Ryder and I had a chance to hang out together.  It was lovely and I wish it could have lasted longer.  When Kai was his age, he was the only one.  I got to go to play dates, day trips, etc., but now with two, the younger one adjusts to the older one’s schedule.  Dropping Kai off and picking him up from school, and add to that naptime for the baby, didn’t leave much time for daytrips out.  Walks in the neighborhood provided Ryder with the opportunity to make new friends too, though:

Even though Kai was the one in school, Ryder too worked hard on developing those brain cells that approx. 2 years ago he stole from me while warm and cozy in my belly.  One afternoon he pulled the Melissa & Doug letter puzzle out of Kai’s puzzle box and this is what I witnessed: (mind you that this is the first time he played with the puzzle)

So, in addition to summer school there were gymnastic and swim classes.  Kai was hot and cold about gymnastics.  First class was great.  He didn’t want to go home.  Second class, he didn’t want to go to gymnastics.  This pattern continued through the summer.  Not sure if gymnastics will return next year.Then, the swim classes: well, first class went seemingly well…

… until he all of a sudden started crying at the end of class.  I think he was overwhelmed, but from that moment on he did NOT want to have ANYTHING to do with swimming lessons.  I would seriously have to get him in the car while he kicked, screamed, hit and fought the hardest he could.  I was stronger.  I won.  Ms. Linda was great though.  Patience to the point where I envy her.  I wish I had it.  [sigh]  He got better and more comfortable as the month went on, but “loving” it was a loooooooong way away.

All the school, gymnastics, swimming and outdoor play wear a 3-year old out, so it doesn’t matter how much he protested, he would (occasionally) still fall asleep during his “quiet time” in the afternoon.  He would start out playing with his cars, but then fatigue would take over and this is how I would find him several hours later:

Ryder too, got a little taste of sports.  Just want to post this, so that when he goes into basketball at some point, I can proof that he was into it from a young age:

On the “Romance” front: David and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.  It was lovely.  David’s “uncle” let us stay at his condo in Manhattan Beach, while our babysitter spent a day and a night with the boys at the house.  Armed with a bottle of bubbles and some delicious cheeses we headed south.  Spent the afternoon at the pool, showered and got dressed to go out for dinner.  Opened the bubbles and chilled, chatted and enjoyed it with cheese and crackers on the balcony.  Once ready for dinner, we had to call a cab to come pick us up ;-)  As we didn’t have dinner reservations at Sashi Sushi, we went across the little square to Shade Hotel & Lounge for some cocktails. 

David and I always “compete”: who gets the better drink.  Oh, did I win this time: not only in taste, but so in presentation: my drink came served in an ice-glass:

Dinner was awesome.  Can’t go wrong with Sushi.  Some great creations, and some “bring us what the Chef recommends”.

[singing:} “Hallelujah!”

The rest of our little get-away: sleeping in, Mimosa’s, Eggs Benedict and Chocolate for breakfast, swimming, lounging and returning home refreshed and happy.  Oh yeah, with some “excitement” on the I-405 on the way back:

Yep, LA traffic sometimes really sucks...

With July behind us, next up is August.  The 2nd half of summer.  The 2nd half of all the fun.  That update coming soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

June 2011 At A Glance

After a crazy busy summer, which flew by too fast to keep up with, several people asked me when I would start writing again, as they missed my posts.  What a compliment.  Thank you.

Since my first pregnancy, my number of brain cells has been significantly reduced.  Both children confiscated them while in utero and there is absolutely no chance that I will ever regenerate these cells or somehow get them back.  I comfort myself with the notion that it just means that my kids will be smart.  Due to my reduced brain capacity, I had to rely (heavily) on my Facebook posts and photo collections of the past several months to recall what all had been going on between my return from Europe and this moment, here in November.

But…long live technology:

In April Kai really started putting letters together to spell words.  The dishwasher was the place of amazement (for David and me). Walking into the kitchen and discovering words that he had put together with the magnets – awesome.  Then looking at each other, wondering if the other had helped.  Simultaneously shaking our heads “no” and raising our eyebrows.  Really?

Over time, Kai’s passion for letters and all that they can create has reached impressive heights. One night in April, I tucked him in and he asked me to “do the alphabet” with him (again).  However, he started at “Z” and continued to recite the alphabet backwards.  In the dark.  No book, no cheat sheet.  Nothing.  I got him to do it again and was able to record it.  Now if I can only figure out how to upload an iPhone voice recording file…

This summer, the most asked question was “How do you spell ……..”.  In addition to that, precious moments of silence quickly got filled with “A” is for “Appetite” (this says enough I would think), “K” is for “Kai”, “M” is for “Mommy”, “P” is for “Papa”, “R” is for “Ryder” and other letters, linked to food wherever possible.

The boys spent a large part of the summer determining what toy belonged to who, and of course the battle for the toy that the other one was playing with at any given moment, was an ongoing one.  One that drove Mommy up the wall at times.  Though I now truly understand why parents to two kids the same gender, buy 2 of each toy, I still refuse to do that.  Though I understand.  I do.  I truly do.

You know how some moments are engraved in your memory and you will remember them forever?  On June 17, I posted on Facebook: “This moment, right here and now, marks the first period longer than 1 min. this afternoon that my 2 boys are NOT trying to kill each other. Lovely.”  I remember that moment.  And it was lovely.  I don’t remember how long it lasted, but I know that it lasted for a little more than a minute and it truly was one of those moments that stuck. 

Ryder spent the month of June eating.  Eating and eating.  Everything.  Ryder loved it.  Mommy loved it.  Whatever I made, it went in with grins and lots of enthusiasm.  He was such a grateful person to cook for.  Long may this last…is what I thought.

All this enjoyment of culinary exploration, helped him manage to remain in the 100th percentile for both weight and height.  At 15-1/2 months he weighted 32lbs.10oz. and he measured 35.5” long.  Yep.  Big baby.

For the boys, June was spent playing outside, getting dirty and well…being boys.  As soon as these two went outside, I would fill up the bath, and take the towels and a set of clean clothes out.  A few hours later, the bath tub would look like this (yes that is dirt at the bottom of the tub):
For Mommy, June was filled with surprises.  Romance was in the air, proven by David coming home one evening with a dozen roses.  For no other reason that he loved me.  How wonderful is that?  After almost 8 years of marriage, he still manages to surprise me.  And I AM LOVING IT!!!

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