Going to G&G Chambers

During the last week in July (yes, I’m still playing blogger catch up!), I got really brave and flew alone with Vivian from Orange County to Oakland to spend the week in Livermore with Vivian’s Grandma and Grandpa Chambers (Dan’s parents). This flight was Vivian’s first and she did great. Thank God that I’m breastfeeding – it makes traveling so much easier. Anytime she gets fussy on a flight, I just nurse her! Anyway, we made the trek up north because I needed a getaway and some extra helping hands and because I want Vivian to get as much family time as possible.

Baby's First Plane Ride!

Baby’s First Plane Ride!

Vivian's First Airline Boarding Pass

Vivian’s First Airline Boarding Pass

While up north, Vivian and I took BART into San Francisco to have dinner with my good friend, Becky. This adventure constituted another first for Vivian – her first train ride! I planned to use the nearly hour-long trips into and out of the city to nurse her. My plan worked well on the trip to the city, but on my return trip, the train was FULL of people and many of them were sketchy. There was no way that I was getting Vivian out of her carseat and whipping out my boob. Thank God, Vivian was not fussy.

Dinner with Becky

Dinner with Becky

Vivian in the Powell Street BART Station

Vivian in the Powell Street BART Station

While in Livermore, Vivian played with her Grandma and Grandpa.

Grandpa Time!

Grandpa Time!

Grandma Is So Fun - and Funny!

Grandma Is So Fun – and Funny!

Vivian also got to visit neighbors, Ayn and Ted, and good friend, Vickie.

Visiting Ayn and Ted

Visiting Ayn and Ted

Vivian and Vickie

Vivian and Vickie

We went shopping at the mall and outlets, went to the Livermore Library, and walked around downtown Livermore. I even got out for a VERY hot run one morning.

On the way back to the airport at the end of the week, Vivian got to see (or, well, sleep next to) her Uncle Alex.

Vivian and Uncle Alex

Vivian and Uncle Alex

And when we got home after being gone for five days, Dan greeted us at the airport baggage claim with flowers!

Vivian's First Flowers From Her Daddy

Vivian’s First Flowers From Her Daddy

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A New Home Sweet Home – Coming in 2015

A little over a year ago, Dan and I were touring a model home in a new community and suddenly realized, while standing in the home’s kitchen, that we could buy a home like the one we were touring. We looked excitedly at each other across the island’s granite kitchen counter top and then naively walked back to the sales office and said that we’d take one home, please. Then we got schooled on the process of buying a new home. As it turns out, at least in Orange County, you can’t just walk into the sales office and buy a house. Oh no. You must get prequalified for a loan to buy the house first. Then you can be put on the very lengthy wait list for the housing community. After that, you either wait for a phone call that may or may not come when/if they get to your name on the list or you show up to monthly releases. At these releases, the builder calls names from the prequalification list. If your name is called at a release, you can defer and keep your spot on the list, or you can buy if the house plan/lot that you want is still available (and if it’s not, you have seconds to decide if one of the plans/lots that is available is one that you want to buy instead). If you don’t show up to a release (even if your name is not being called), you drop off the list. So…we did a bunch of legwork and got on about eight different new home community lists. We knew that we would eventually want to upgrade our living situation from a townhouse to a single family home and I was having a hard time getting on board with buying a resale house that would need a lot of work to it to get it up to our standards. A brand-spanking new house sounded so much nicer! And, the price of  a new house was very comparable to the price of a resale house.

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Release day! We bought a house!

For various reasons, all of the new housing communities that we were qualified to purchase in fell off our list. The houses weren’t designed to our liking, the yards were too small, the location wasn’t ideal, the prices rose too much. But then, earlier this year, Dan came across a new community, Baker Ranch, that best fit our next-step in housing. The community opened in February and that’s when we got prequalified for their list. Finally, on July 12, 2014, our name was called during their sixth phase release and we bought a house! Since then, we’ve signed a ton of paper work, picked out all of our upgrade options, and started watching our new house be constructed. We’ll move in sometime in early 2015. We are so excited!

We will be living in The Knolls community (housing plan 1, Santa Barbara elevation) inside of Baker Ranch. Our new house will be directly across the street from Dan’s current job and only a few short miles away from my job. It will also be in the same town as Vivian’s daycare. The house won’t be big – it’s just under 1600 sq. ft., but it will have 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, a 2-car garage, an upstairs laundry room, and a little yard.

This is what our new house will look like - only it will be flipped. The front door will be on the right and the garage will be on the left.

This is what our new house will look like – only it will be flipped. The front door will be on the right and the garage will be on the left.

This is the model home's kitchen, but ours will look similar.

This is the model home’s kitchen, but ours will look similar.

This is the model home's living room, but ours will look similar.

This is the model home’s living room, but ours will look similar.

We’ve already started monitoring the construction progress, which is so fun. The house has quickly gone from a dirt pad to an actual framed house!

The beginning...

The beginning…

Next up, the concrete pad...

Next up, the concrete pad…

Our future garage!

Our future garage!

Standing at my new kitchen window.

Standing at my new kitchen window.

On our second floor, checking out our view, which is towards the ocean.

On our second floor, checking out our view, which is towards the ocean.

Standing in our yard, looking at our living room.

Standing in our yard, looking at our living room.

Dan standing in our yard, plotting our garden and flower beds.

Dan standing in our yard, plotting our garden and flower beds.

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First Family Vacation – Palomar Mountain

I am playing major catch up on blog posts, as this post shares the adventures from our first family vacation, which was two months ago in July 2014! Better late than never, though, right?

Dan and I love to travel and explore and since Vivian was born in April, we had yet to embark on an actual vacation. I told Dan that it would be nice to go away for a long weekend – somewhere within driving distance – and relax as a new family of three. I am normally the travel planner in our family, but this time, I asked Dan to plan everything. I knew that I did not have the time or energy to organize a trip away. In my mind, I was envisioning that we would perhaps spend a weekend in La Jolla or some other beach town. I pictured walking on the beach, listening to the nearby waves, and walking to cute brunch/lunch restaurants. Because my mind is extra fuzzy these days, I don’t recall if I shared my visions with Dan or if I just said “please plan a vacation for us!”

After searching online at VRBO, Dan suggested to me that we rent a cabin in the woods in Palomar Mountain, CA. He told me that the cabin was well appointed and recently remodeled, which he knew would be important to me. I was still just trying to successfully get through each day with an infant and had little spare brainpower to fully consider his recommendation, so I just told him, “sure, whatever.”

As the date for our little getaway approached and we received additional information about the cabin and the directions for getting to it, I started to internally fret. This vacation was going to require me to pack everything I would possibly need for two adults, a baby, and a dog for four nights, as the cabin was truly in the middle of the woods. There would be no services nearby. Not only did I need to pack clothes, a Pack-n-Play, and dog food and dishes, I also needed to plan ahead and pack all of the food and drinks that we would need for four days. No restaurants nearby meant that I would be cooking all weekend. My visions of a relaxing beach vacation were certainly dashed.

I dutifully packed up our 3-month-old baby, dog, and all the food that we would need for four days. After Dan got out of work on a Thursday night, we loaded up our 4×4 truck and drove southeast. We made it to Pala Casino before we had to pull over so that I could nurse Vivian. After she finished eating, burping, and pooping, we continued our drive, in the dark, up Palomar Mountain. Finally, we got to the end of the paved road. From here on out, we would be driving on a steep, rutted, narrow, dirt road while following directions that literally instructed us to “turn right at the tree that forks to the left” and “keep going straight when you see a sign fashioned in the shape of a bluebird.” The directions were multiple pages of instructions similar to this. I was convinced that we were never going to make it to the cabin. The dirt roads seemed to go in every direction, it was pitch black in the wilderness, and there really was no room to turn around if you thought you made a wrong turn. Oh, and there was no cell phone reception, so even if we wanted to, we could not call for help! Somehow, though, by the grace of God (and the help of one mountain neighbor), we made it miles into the forest to the end of one of the dirt roads and to our little Falling Cedar cabin-sweet-cabin.

The cabin was closed up and did not have A/C. In the dark, we unloaded the truck, set up the Pack-n-Play under the kitchen bar counter top, put Vivian to bed, and then collapsed in bed ourselves in the heat of the night. We were then rudely reminded that Snoopy is scared of wood floors. He refused to walk on them – and the entire living area of the cabin was covered in wood flooring! While we were trying to fall asleep, he was crying because he didn’t know where to go that was “safe” from the wood floors. We were finally able to get him to settle down on the living room rug.

By now you’re probably thinking that this vacation is setting itself up to be not so great. But…the opposite is true! I documented all of the things above to show that despite my misgivings, this weekend away with our little family of three + Snoopy was one of the most special times in my life. Two months after this trip, I still cannot stop thinking about it and thanking Dan for planning it for us. My heart is full of the best memories from this vacation. How did I go from dread to delight? Read on…

Our first morning in the mountains, Vivian woke up at 7am, as per usual. I nursed her, and then she fell back asleep. Dan and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while drinking our coffee sitting on the cabin’s deck, which overlooked the expansive forest. My soul was already calmed.

On our first full day in the area, we visited Palomar Observatory. We toured the little museum and checked out the huge Hale Telescope.

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Palomar Observatory

On our second day, we visited the nearby town of Julian where we ate lunch and walked around. We drank some of their famous hard cider and I bought an apple dumpling to take back to the cabin with us.

And on our third full day, we hiked two miles on the Fry Creek Trail in the Cleveland National Forest.

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Family Hike on the Fry Creek Trail

In between our activities we sat together on the couch in the cabin and watched movies (while I nursed Vivian) and read (again, while I nursed Vivian). I read my first postpartum book while on this trip – The Red Bikini – which was written by one of my Book Club friends! Cooking dinner turned out to be very enjoyable. Dan grilled and we ate very well. One morning, we woke up and – glory be! – it was raining! Each night, after Vivian went to bed, Dan built a fire in the outdoor fireplace and we sat around, drank, talked, and looked at the stars and satellites zooming by.

There were a few hiccups during our stay – like a minor ant invasion in the cabin, the appearance of bat poop in the living room, large spider sightings in the cabin (we were in the wilderness, after all!), and, at the end, the onslaught of mastitis in me:-( But, the things that I will remember most about this trip are the three of us (well, plus Snoopy!) just being together. It was just us. And it was wonderful. Dan and I work really well together at everything and it’s so easy and pleasant to be together. I was reminded over and over again how insanely blessed I am to have him as my husband and Vivian’s father.

First Family Vacation at Falling Cedar Cabin

First Family Vacation at Falling Cedar Cabin

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Summer Fun

The summer of 2014 will be known as the “The Baby Summer.” Or, the freakin’ hot summer. Or both. Thank God we got a new A/C unit at the beginning of summer! I’ve spent the summer at home with Vivian and will continue to do so until August 25 when I return to work:-( Vivian will start daycare after Labor Day. But…we’re not there yet! It’s still summer!

Vivian and I spend our weekdays meeting up with friends for walks, lunches, and other fun adventures and our weekends hanging out with Daddy and making family memories. Before it got too hot, we also went running 1-3 times/week in the jogging stroller. We get out of the house every day, even if it’s just to go grocery shopping. Vivian loves being out and about and seems so much happier when she has something else to stare at besides Mama’s face and the same tan walls of our town home all day. As much as she loves being out and about, though, she does not like riding in the car on city streets. Teleportation can’t be invented fast enough.

Here are some pictures from the fun we’ve had so far this summer. I’ll add to it over the next month, also.

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Baby’s First Disneyland/California Adventure Trip with Katie and Ben

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Visiting the Montage with Tara

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Baby’s Second Disneyland Trip

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Friends at Liz and John’s Wedding

Friends at Liz and John's Wedding Reception

Friends at Liz and John’s Wedding Reception

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Hanging Out With Friends at Liz and John’s Wedding After Party

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Wedding After Party with Liz and John (the Bride and Groom)

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Running at Lake Laguna Niguel

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Date Night Dinner at Savannah Chop House

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Grammy’s Memorial Day Weekend Visit

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Baby’s First Museum Visit – Laguna Art Museum

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Visiting the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

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Fussy Baby During Aunt Anna’s Visit

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Drinks on the Sundeck at the Hotel del Coronado with Megan

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Beach Walk in Laguna Niguel with Jessica and Jakob

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4th of July Firecracker

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Baby’s First Swim!

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Swimming with Daddy

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Drinking at the Twisted Vine in Fullerton with the Greens

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Visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

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Baby’s First Baseball Game at Petco Park in San Diego (Giants vs. Padres – Giants Won!)

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Newport Harbor Duffy Boat Ride

Edited to add…

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Santa Ana Zoo Visit

Daddy and Daughter in Laguna Beach

Daddy and Daughter in Laguna Beach

Toes in the Sand

Toes in the Sand

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Labor Day Weekend Beach Walk in Laguna Beach

Posted in Arts, Baby, Drinking, Eating, Holidays, Running, Sightseeing, Wedding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Father’s Day

When we were still thick in the haze of the newborn days, we kinda-sorta celebrated my first Mother’s Day. Truth be told, Dan forgot all about it until after noon on the actual day. And, of course, Vivian had no clue that she was supposed to be showering me with love and affection instead of demanding food and diaper changes around the clock. Ah well. God willing, we will all celebrate in style next year. Anyway…by the time Father’s Day rolled around this year, our heads were clear enough to remember the day and bring some attention to the new daddy honoree. Unfortunately, we spent most of the day driving from Northern California to Southern California, but at least there were gifts, cards, and even a letter from Vivian to her daddy:-)

We spent Dan’s first Father’s Day weekend visiting his family in his hometown of Livermore, CA. Vivian, Snoopy, and I drove up there by ourselves on a Wednesday and then Dan flew up there to meet us late Friday night. While I was in Livermore without him, I was able to go on a four-mile run alone, attend a Pilates class, walk around downtown Livermore, and visit with a friend at Concannon Vineyard. After Dan arrived, we went wine tasting at Rubino Estates Winery and went on a double date sans kids with his sister and her husband at El Sacromonte.

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Wine Tasting at Rubino Estates Winery

It was really, really, really nice to be around family (I had no idea that having a baby could leave you so lonely) and have their help. It was also nice not to have to worry about laundry, house chores, and cooking dinner. I actually cried when we left because I didn’t want to have to go back to my quiet house. Before going up to Livermore, my sister had been in town visiting, so I had eight days with family and help nearby and the thought of going back to spending my days [mostly] alone with Vivian briefly put me over the edge.

Vivian’s first road trip was a great success, though. She did really well riding in the car. I swear angels were truly watching over us during my solitary drive north because what could have been a hellish 7.5 hour drive with a two-month old turned out to be a very peaceful commute. She also did well adjusting to her new surroundings and she slept soundly at night. I can only hope that our future trips go as smoothly!

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Happy Baby!

While in Livermore, we had some great family photos taken of all of us. Each time we get together, the family has grown!

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The Whole Family!

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And Now the Girls – With Aunt Maxine, Too!

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Proud Parents

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Cousins

Posted in Baby, Drinking, Holidays, Travel, Wine Tasting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Introducing Vivian Ruth Chambers

It’s been over three months since I posted a blog article, but we haven’t really been doing much – except swooning over our new daughter! Vivian Ruth Chambers was born nine days after her due date on April 6, 2014. She was 8 lbs. 1 oz. and 19.5″ at birth. She is named in memory of my maternal grandmother, Vivian Oberhauser, and in honor of my paternal grandmother, Ruth Damschroder. We are smitten!

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Miss Vivian Ruth

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Snoopy and His Baby

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Gorgeous!

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Vivian was born two weeks before Easter.

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Sometimes babies are NOT happy!

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Daddy’s Hands

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So in Love

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A Mama’s Love

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V is for Vivian

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Happy Family

You’ll notice that we have changed the name of our blog from “The Chambers’ – B.C.” (“Before Children”) to “The Chambers’ – A.D.” (“After Daughter”). The purpose of Our List has also changed and we are excited to move forward as parents and experience the excitements of life with our new daughter!

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Showered with Love and Sun in California

I have truly been blessed with an amazing group of girlfriends in California and they, along with my sister, hosted an absolutely beautiful California baby shower for me on February 8. The venue was decorated with soft greens and pinks and they had thought of every detail – like handmade paper centerpieces, custom banners, delicious homemade food, a guest sign-in sheet, guest advice cards, yummy and adorable guest baby rattle favors, photos of Dan and me as babies, and so much more. It was a lovely afternoon and it was so wonderful to spend time with the women who have made my life in California work for the past 11 years.

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Beautifully Decorated Venue

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Dessert Table

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The Tablescapes

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Baby Rattle Oreo Guest Favors Made by Anna

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Ready to Open Gifts – Oh So Many Gifts!

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Mom and Me

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Most of the Shower Guests – I Felt So Loved!

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The Amazing Hostesses – Minus Sara

After the shower, Mom, Anna, and Dan’s mom came back to our house and we took a closer look at the stunning quilts that Dan’s mom made for our first born child. You can read more about her labor of love making them here and here.

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Showing Off the Stunning Quilts that Dan’s Mom Made

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Just the Ladies

Dan’s mom flew in for the shower only, so Dan took her back to the airport and then Mom, Anna, Dan, and I went to dinner at Benihana, which none of us had ever been to before. It was a lot of fun and the food was great.

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Dinner at Benihana

We had part of Sunday with Mom and Anna before they, too, flew back to their homes, so we brunched at Beachcomber Cafe and then walked around the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages. I couldn’t have them visit SoCal and not at least see the beach and ocean!

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Brunch at Beachcomber

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Mom and Her Girls on Crystal Cove Beach

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All Three Chambers’

It was a bit sad/weird to say good-bye to our visiting family at the end of the shower and weekend knowing that the next time that we would see them, everything would be different, as we’d have our daughter by then. Having a baby is still something that I cannot completely wrap my head around!

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