Ohio, Again

I wasn’t going to go to Ohio at all this year. I took all the kids by myself to Ohio three (1, 2, 3) times last year. This year, I was going to use my time and money to go elsewhere. Or so I thought (kind of…in the 16 years that I’ve lived in California, I’ve never actually gone a year without going back to Ohio, so I’m not sure how realistic my proclamation was). My Dad’s health issues changed my plans, though, and William and I scheduled an end of May/early June trip back to Ohio, just four weeks after we returned from our last trip to Ohio. William is still nursing and he still flies for free, so he goes where I go. The girls, once again, stayed back in California with Dan and maintained their busy daycare/preschool, dance, Spanish, swim, and birthday party schedules.

Our late Spring trip to Ohio consisted mostly of four things: visiting Dad and family, gardening, playing, and eating.

Visiting Dad & Family
The #1 reason for our trip was to spend more time with my Dad, who was still in the hospital rehabilitating from open heart surgery and complications that arose after it. Unlike at our last visit, William was able to go into Dad’s hospital room. We took Dad outside each day and William loved riding with Dad in his wheelchair. William also enjoyed using Dad’s walker. William is such a happy baby and a joy to everyone who sees his smile, so being around William definitely brightened Dad’s (and other patients’) days.

Wheelchair Rides with Papa
Walking William

We also got to see and spend time with Uncle Lee, Uncle Gerry, and Aunt Jane, in addition to Mom (of course!) and Matthew. Sadly, due to family coverage reasons, we didn’t get to see Anna and Baby A this time since they scheduled their own trip a week after ours.

Visiting Dad with Aunt Jane
Visiting Uncle Gerry
Visiting Uncle Matthew & Mom

Gardening
This year, for the first time, I planted a little garden in California. Dan built me a garden box and I overfilled it with tomato, lettuce, green bean, sugar pea, beet, and carrot seeds. Its quick growth greatly inspired me and I decided that when I returned to Ohio, I would revive my large childhood vegetable garden at my Dad’s house. I was very excited to take on this project…and then I got my first glimpse at what I was in for.

Garden “Before” Picture

It was completely neglected and overgrown. There was an existing asparagus plot and some compost from last Fall’s leaves, but other than that, it was full of grass and weeds. A day after arriving in Ohio, I found a hoe and started breaking up the ground. I quickly realized that it would take me forever to get the ground ready with just a hoe. My Dad had given his rototiller to a friend and my Mom had given her rototiller to my brother, so I walked down the street to the neighbor’s (who has an amazingly beautiful garden) and asked if I could borrow his rototiller. He offered up something even better – his personal help! The next day, he brought his rototiller and shovel down to Dad’s and rototilled the perimeter of the garden. To break up the interior of the plot, though, we’d have to spade it by hand. And so we did – for hours. My Mom and the neighbor helped me break up all the ground and then the neighbor came back and rototilled all of it. At the end of the day, I was sun burnt and had huge open blisters on my hand, but the garden was ready to plant.

The following day, Aunt Jane kept me company while I planted tomatoes, bell peppers, a banana pepper, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, and watermelon seedlings. I also planted rows of lettuce, spinach, onions, green beans, yellow beans, carrots, and sweet corn from seed/bulb.

Planted Garden

By May 28, I had everything in the ground. I didn’t bother watering anything, as rain was in the forecast. I did, however, put mulch around all of the seedlings.

Mulched Garden

In addition to planting my big garden, I also weeded my Dad’s front planter bed and cleaned up (again, with the help of the neighbor, Mom, and Uncle Lee, too) Dad’s back flower bed. I planted new flowers in the back bed and put mulch in that, too.

Backyard Flower Bed

Before I left Ohio (four days after I had planted my garden), I could see the lettuce sprouting. Yeah! A week later, my sister sent me pictures of nearly everything sprouted. No one will be around to tend the garden this summer, but I’m hopeful the produce will still be enjoyed. I am planning on returning to Ohio in late August, so I’ll be able to work on it more then and enjoy some of the vegetables of my labor (see what I did there?).

Playing
Since William was the only baby on this trip and our primary focus was family, we didn’t do much sightseeing. However, William got to play at a new (to him) park, splash in mud puddles, and rub noses with the neighbor’s horse (Catch Me).

Swinging
Mud Puddles

Eating
Mom and I took William out to dinner twice – once at the same Bob Evans that I worked at for three years in college and once at Zia’s on the banks of the Maumee River (with the downtown Toledo skyline behind us). Our dinner at The Docks was a belated Mother’s Day celebration.

Down on the Farm
Dinner at The Docks

The day before we returned to California, my Dad was discharged from the rehab unit at the hospital. At this point, he’d been in a hospital for seven weeks. Although he was very ready to go home, his reintroduction to life on his own wasn’t as smooth as we were all hoping. Three days later, he was back in the ER and was readmitted to the hospital. After a short stay of only three days, he was again discharged, but this time, to a nursing home where he can hopefully continue his recovery with 24/7 assistance, therapy, full meal service, and wound care. My recent time in Ohio didn’t have the anguish that my trip a month ago did, but the week after my return brought new emotions as I processed the true state of my Dad’s health and his move to a nursing home (no one ever says “gee, I can’t wait until I can go and live in a nursing home”). We will all keep moving forward and praying for healing. And I will go to Ohio – for the third time this year – again in August.

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The BIG Birthday Post

In a five week time span in our house, 4 out of 5 of us celebrate birthdays. Wow. Here’s how we celebrated this Spring!

Vivian Turned FIVE
Viv was up first. We took her out to dinner, showered her with presents and balloons, spent the day at SeaWorld, and sang to her. I baked a cake to eat at home and then I made 70 cake pops for her to take to preschool (well, only 45 went to preschool). Whew…and we were just getting started.

FIVE YEARS OLD!

Pre-Birthday Traditional Dinner at BJ’s

New Bike!

Birthday Balloons

Birthday Presents!

Birthday Crown

Birthday Interview

Birthday Cake Pops for Preschool Celebration (Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

FIVE YEARS OLD!

At five years old, Vivian is smart, emotional, active, loving, and sweet. She can play pretend by herself for hours, but she also plays well with Lillian. She’s a great big sister to both Lillian and William. She loves snuggling, princesses, movies, and going to fun places. She’s a very good swimmer, remembers information (but not instructions) well, and is very social. We love her more than anything ever and always will no matter what (that’s our mantra that we repeat to each kid).

William Turned ONE
William’s birthday followed Viv’s exactly one week later. Since he had no idea that it was his birthday, his celebrations were a bit more subdued. We still showered him with presents (although, I don’t think that we actually bought him anything; all of his gifts were from relatives) and balloons and sang to him. I baked cupcakes to eat at home.

ONE YEAR OLD!

More Cake Smashing

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

Smash Cake Bath

Birthday Balloons

More Birthday Balloons

Birthday Presents!

At one year old, William is smiley (still), a Mama’s boy, and an amazing eater (he eats everything and lots of it!). He is an excellent walker, jabbers (but doesn’t say words), and dances (favorite song: Baby Shark). He’s in a needy phase right now, but he is still a baby, so we allow it:-). He has three teeth, sleeps through the night, loves dogs, and sucks his fingers and twirls his hair for comfort. We (especially me) are completely and utterly obsessed with him and 100% ga-ga over him. We love him more than anything ever and always will no matter what.

Dan Turned…Well, He’s Still in His “Mid-Thirties”
This section is intentionally left blank.

[Poor Dan had zero birthday celebrations, sans a dinner date that we went on a few weeks after his birthday. William and I were in Ohio on his birthday and he was trying to stay afloat working and taking care of the girls in California. Technically, his Dad and my Mom were at our house on his birthday, so he did get to spend the evening with family, but there wasn’t any cake, presents, or singing. His birthday was similar to mine last year (except that I remembered his;-)). Getting older is boring.]

Lillian Turned THREE
Finally, exactly five weeks after Viv’s birthday, we went out with a bang and celebrated Lil’s birthday. We took her out to dinner, showered her with presents and balloons, spent the day at Disneyland, and sang to her. I baked a cake to eat at home.

THREE YEARS OLD!

Pre-Birthday Dinner Dessert at Peppino’s

Birthday Balloons (and a New Ziggle!)

Birthday Presents!

It’s My Birthday!

Autopia Ride at Disneyland

End of Disney Day (Obviously)

THREE YEARS OLD!

At three years old, Lillian is silly, sweet, feisty, and active. She loves snuggling, her thumb, her Daddy (she’s a huge Daddy’s Girl), and playing with Vivian. She’s our homebody, our “spicy enchilada,” and a classic middle child. She loves movies, food, dresses (just like her big sister, of course), princesses, and dancing. We love her more than anything ever and always will no matter what.

MORE Celebrations
As if everything above wasn’t celebratory enough, we also did two other special things during this time period to add to the birthday fun – seeing PAW Patrol Live! at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and hosting a huge (there were 48 kids in attendance) joint birthday party at Pump It Up for all three kids.

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Hollywood Sign (in the Background)

Birthday Party Kids

More Birthday Party Kids

Party Fun

Party Fun

Party Guests

Party Dessert (Homemade by My Mom; Brownie Recipe (No Nuts) from Barefoot Contessa; Frosting Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Mmm!

Mmm!

All Partied Out!

And…that’s a wrap. We dearly love all of our children and love celebrating them (you know there’s a “but” after that). There are a million emotions surrounding kids’ birthdays. Physically, mentally, and emotionally – we are tired. It’s a lot to squeeze in in five weeks, but maybe it’s good to bang them all out at once – we sure do have fun with them all and then we’re done with them for an entire year (my birthday in August doesn’t count).

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Unexpected in Ohio

As I mentioned in my last post, William and I went to Ohio, unexpectedly, in April. The main purpose of our trip was to visit my Dad in the hospital as he worked to recover from a heart attack and emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Because (as we quickly learned) children under 14 were not allowed in my Dad’s ICU room, the trip also included some elements of adventure and fun to keep William and my sister’s daughter, who also flew in on Easter Sunday from their home in Colorado, occupied while either my sister or I were visiting my Dad.

On the first morning that we visited my Dad, we walked into his hospital room with our babies strapped to us in their baby carriers. Within minutes, the babies were kicked out. We spent the rest of that day alternating between sitting with Dad (who was still in a medically-induced coma) and attempting to entertain the babies in waiting areas around the hospital. We quickly realized that this arrangement would not last longer than that day. Active toddlers and hospitals do not go well together. My Mom, who was with us on the first day, had to go back to work and then had a previously scheduled trip to California to leave for at the end of the week. To add a few more glitches to our schedules, the hospital was 45 minutes away from where my Mom lives, it was in an unsafe neighborhood in downtown Toledo, and both of our babies were still nursing. However, we were able to come up with a new daily routine where we were each able to sit with Dad and let the littles have some local fun.

Two Cute Cousins, Banned from the Hospital

On hospital day #2, I spent most of the day with Dad while my sister, Anna, took our kids to Imagination Station, the local science/children’s museum.

Ready to Work with Daddy!

At the end of their fun, my sister pulled the car into the hospital’s roundabout, she hopped out to sit with Dad, and I hopped in it to nurse William and randomly drive around/run errands.

On hospital days #3 and #4, I kept the kids for most of the day, taking them to The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium and the Family Center at The Toledo Museum of Art, and Anna sat with Dad for most of the day. Then, in the late afternoon, we switched places using our roundabout method.

Mesmerized at the Zoo’s Aquarium

Busy Bee at the Zoo

Almost as Tall as a Vulture

Don’t Get Too Close!

BFF Cousins

Greetings From the Toledo Zoo

Hatchlings at the Zoo

Painting at the Art Museum

Playing at the Art Museum

On hospital day #5, we thought that Dad was going to have surgery again, so we dropped the kids off at an in-home daycare near where we grew up. Dad didn’t end up having surgery that day, but we (including my brother, who drove up that day from his house further south in Ohio) all spent the day together with Dad.

In addition to exploring Toledo, the kids helped do chicken chores and got to visit with family.

William Collecting Chicken Eggs

Eating Dinner with Uncle Gerry

Bonding with Uncle Matthew

Nana and Her Babies

The whole trip was full of emotions. It was utterly heartbreaking to see my Dad on a ventilator, restrained to the bed, unable to eat or communicate, confused about his whereabouts, and in pain. It was beyond depressing to visit long-term care hospitals and try to select where he should be placed after discharge. It was frustrating – and then actually relieving at times – to see everything surrounding my Dad’s care and medical plans change ALL THE TIME. It was heartwarming to spend the week with my sister and her daughter. It was sweet to see the two cousins, six months apart in age, get to know each other (we were asked over and over and over again if they were twins since they are so similar in size!). It was nice to see my brother, sister, and I make decisions together on behalf of our Dad. There were times I literally felt crushed and empty, completely unsure what to do next and overwhelmed by everything. And there were times spent with the babies and Anna that were so sweet that I will always treasure them.

At the end of the week, William and I had to fly back to California so that we could host a huge birthday party for all three kids (see my next blog post). It was hard to leave; I felt pulled in even more directions than normal. It was a sad trip, but also a good trip. I knew we’d be back again soon, though.

Saying Goodbye

Our Little Frequent Flyer

The day after we left Ohio, my Dad was successfully removed from the ventilator. Two weeks after that, he was discharged to another hospital where he’s been able to receive a lot of intensive rehab therapy. He didn’t end up needing additional surgeries and he didn’t end up needing to go to a long-term care hospital. Prayers were answered daily, it seemed, and his condition improved. Although he’s still in a hospital, he’s doing well, and William and I are excited to go back and see him again next week (and this time, William will actually be able to visit him!). Dad doesn’t remember us being in Ohio in April (which is completely fine since it was an awful time for him), but I know we’ll make some happy memories with him on our next trip.

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A Different Kind of Easter

This year, our Easter started with the traditional egg hunt, baskets/gifts, and church service in California and ended with William and I falling asleep in a country farm house in Ohio, completely unexpectedly. Let me back up…

First of all, I’ll say that I don’t know what I was thinking a few months ago when I got a little sad about the Fall holidays being over. Well, I guess I know what I was thinking. I was wrong, though. The holidays have not.stopped.coming. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, family birthdays (four of them!), and now Easter. I need a summer off from holidays. I don’t even go big with them or decorate much, but I am currently exhausted by them.

So…Easter. Vivian had two egg hunts at preschool in the week before Easter. I took the kids to our community’s egg hunt at the park the day before Easter. And we dyed eggs and the Easter Bunny hid them around our house.

William’s First Egg Hunt at Promenade Park

William LOVED the Easter Bunny

Annual Easter Bunny Picture

Lillian Hunting for Eggs at Promenade Park

Vivian Hunting for Eggs at Promenade Park

Community Egg Hunt

Easter Eggstravaganza Bounce House Fun

Dying Eggs

William’s First Easter

I also did some baking to prepare for Easter: Jellybean Sugar Cookies, Coconut Easter Nest Cake (with a vanilla cake and cream cheese frosting), and Easter Bunny Bark.

On Easter morning, the kids woke up to overflowing Easter baskets. After an indoor egg hunt to find the eggs that we dyed, we all went to mass.

Easter Morning Egg Hunt

FULL Easter Baskets

He is Risen!

We had actually gotten to mass quite early. We found a good parking spot and spoke with my Mom, who was about to go into the hospital to visit my Dad who had had a heart attack exactly one week prior, along with emergency quadruple bypass surgery. After speaking with her, I put my phone away and didn’t look at it again until the last song at church had been sung. When I did finally glance at my phone again, it was lit up with messages about my Dad, who had taken a turn for the worse and had been rushed back into surgery to hopefully save his leg (he’d been having many complications over the past week, and lost blood flow to his right foot was just one of them). The vascular surgeon had said that he’d do his best to resolve the issue, but that he wasn’t going to do anything “heroic.” Ten minutes after receiving this latest news, I bought a plane ticket back home to Ohio and 90 minutes after that, William and I were in the sky. Thankfully, when I turned my phone back on during our layover in Minneapolis, I was able to receive the news that the surgeon was able to save my Dad’s leg (without heroics, luckily).

While William and I flew to Ohio, Dan and the girls hosted Dan’s cousin, Glenn, and his family at our house for Easter dinner. They were vacationing in the area from New Jersey. I really didn’t talk to Dan too much during the afternoon or evening since I was traveling, but I did take the time to send at least one text: Serve the cake! I had put a lot of effort into making the Coconut Easter Nest Cake and I wanted people to eat and enjoy it!

New Jersey Cousins Visiting for Easter and Eating Cake

William and I arrived in Ohio very late. My sister and her daughter had also flown in from Colorado. Easter was over. Or, maybe it was just beginning…

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Sweet Strawberries

It’s finally strawberry season in SoCal (which still seems weird to me since strawberry season in Ohio isn’t until June)! The girls have been strawberry picking many times (in both Orange County and North Carolina), but William never had and we knew he’d love it. So, last Sunday, we went on a strawberry picking tour at Tanaka Farms. In addition to picking strawberries, we tasted other just-picked veggies, petted/fed chickens and goats, and played on the farm’s equipment and toys. It was a very fun – and very dirty – morning.

Welcome to Tanaka Farms

Country Girls at Heart

Wagon Ride

Eating Fresh-Picked Celery

Eating Fresh-Picked Carrots

Eating Fresh-Picked Snap Peas

Sweet Strawberries!

Double-Fisting Those Strawberries

Lil Loves Strawberries

Viv Loves Strawberries

Tanaka Farms Strawberries

Feeding Chickens

Sand Play

Getting Tall

Getting Tall

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Frozen: Chambers Family Edition

In mid-March, we loaded up the truck and took off on our first long family road trip (nearly six hours on the road!) and first family “snow vacation” (that’s what we kept referring to it as with the girls). Mammoth Lakes has received record amounts of snow this season – in fact, the Mammoth Mountain ski resort has received more snow than any other ski resort in the U.S. this year! Luckily, we somehow scheduled our trip in between snow storms, so we got to enjoy all of that snow without having to deal with blizzard weather and driving conditions – whew!

Day 1: Drive North, Welcome Center, & Mammoth Brewing
After careful and extensive planning and preparations, we were able to leave our house at 6:38am for the roughly six hour drive north. The drive was pleasant and relatively uneventful. Since our kids don’t have or use phones or tablets, they were happy to pass the time playing games (Guess Who? and I Spy), pretending, listening to music, and eating tons and tons and tons of snacks. We stopped once in Pearsonville (population: 17) for a gas/restroom/stretch/nursing break, and arrived in Mammoth Lakes before 2pm. We unloaded the truck and attempted to settle into our rented condo at Sierra Park Villas; however, our activities were abruptly halted when we realized that the condo had not been cleaned since the previous renters vacated it. Ug. I called the owner and he very quickly got a cleaning crew over to the condo, but it meant that we had to immediately leave the condo for two hours while they cleaned. None of this was a really big deal, though, and we were just mostly very glad that we arrived in the early afternoon and not late at night!

SO MUCH SNOW!

Since we were forced out of our condo nearly as soon as we got there, we started exploring our new surroundings right away. We first went to the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center. The kids played in the snow banks and walked around where they could, but, as would become a recurring theme throughout our vacation – there was really too much snow to do much else! We did get some valuable information about where to go sledding in a nearby park, peeked in the old saloon on site, and broke off some icicles that could have doubled as swords.

Welcome to Mammoth Lakes!

After our short adventure at the Welcome Center, it became very clear that Lillian would need better snow boots for the remainder of our trip. I had bought as little snow gear as I could for the kids before the trip, mostly relying on hand-me-downs and borrowed items from neighbors, so I wasn’t exactly excited to spend $50 on size 6 snow boots that would not be worn very much, but there wasn’t any way around it. While we were throwing down money at Footloose Sports for new boots, we also bought an over-priced (nonrefundable!) sled.

We drove around town and over to Main and Eagle Lodges, refamiliarizing ourselves with the area after not being here in six years. Then we stopped into Mammoth Brewing Company for an early dinner. This was a great choice because they have a casual eatery upstairs where the kids could run around and we could try some of their new (and unusual) brews.

Root Beer Cheers

Day 2: Shady Rest Park Sledding & Tubing at Woolly’s
In the morning, we bundled the kids and ourselves up and took our expensive new sled out for sledding and snow play at Shady Rest Park. Surprise – it was exhausting, tearful, cold, sweaty, and painful. We hiked up the sledding hill and then pushed the girls down their first run. Their sled picked up speed, hit some bumps, and launched them both into the air. They landed on the icy, hard snow and, Lillian especially, scraped up her face pretty bad. Major parenting fail.

Sledding Time – Before the Crash

William did not go sledding. I mostly propped him up next to snow piles and trees for photo opps.

Snow Elf

After The Crash, the girls rather quickly regained their confidence and went sledding again – this time, though, with Dan. They also made snow angels. Vivian used a much safer vehicle – her own rear end – to do a little solo sledding.

Sledding Without a Sled

After a quick lunch at the condo, Dan took Vivian to Woolly’s Tube Park for an even faster and more thrilling sledding experience. I had prepaid for this activity, so she was forced to get over any new sledding fears really quickly. Luckily, they both had a blast at their first tubing experience.

Tubing with Daddy

Day 3: Skiing & Snowboarding
This is the main reason we came to Mammoth Lakes – to ski and ride! In an exhausting morning rush (exhaustion is always the theme when “vacationing” with small kids/babies), we dropped Lillian and William off at child care and Vivian off at ski school. Then, Dan and I tackled the mountain together for the first time in six years. We made tracks all over – from the back side to Eagle and from Main/Mill/Canyon/McCoy to the top. After stopping into child care to nurse William at lunchtime, we ate lunch at McCoy Station and then took the gondola to the top to take on Cornice (one of the only black diamond bowls we feel comfortable going down at the top). We were lucky that the conditions were so great because Cornice is tough, even on a good day. We both felt relieved that skiing and snowboarding is actually like riding a bike – even after not doing it for many years, we both very easily picked it back up.

Ready to Tackle the Top

At the Top on a Bluebird Day

After collecting all of the kids from child care at the end of the day, we went back to the condo. Dan and Lillian headed off to the hot tub while I made dinner (we had our weekly Gobble box shipped up there).

Off to the Hot Tub – in the Snow!

Day 4: Mono Lake & Woolly’s Saturday Parade
After three days of serious snow play, we took a break to drive north on Highway 395 to check out Mono Lake, which none of us had ever seen before. Unfortunately, the visitor’s center in Lee Vining is closed in the winter (side note: quite a few places where we planned to go were closed at this time of the year like the Hot Creek Trout Hatchery and the Mammoth Ice Rink), but we were still able to take in views of the lake and build a snowman (Olaf, of course) outside the visitor’s center.

Mono Lake

Snowman Success

We drove back to our condo after a slight detour to June Lake, which is another lake we’d never visited before, and June Mountain. This afternoon, Dan stayed home with the littles while they napped and Vivian and I participated in Woolly’s Saturday Parade in The Village Plaza.

Hot Cocoa Before the Parade

Photo Opp with Baldy and Woolly

Resting in the Village

After take-out dinner, the girls and I frosted and decorated shamrock sugar cutout cookies (I had made and froze the dough in advance and then Vivian and I rolled, cut, and baked the cookies before the parade) in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.

Shamrock Cutouts

Day 5: St. Patrick’s Day, Skiing, & Snowboarding
The girls were very excited to wake up and see a long trail of gold and green coins leading from their bedrooms to a pot of (chocolate) gold hidden in the kitchen. A leprechaun had also left beaded necklaces for them to wear to celebrate the day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

We hit the slopes again after dropping Vivian off at ski school and the littles off at child care. Once again, we tried to cover as much as the mountain as we could before we had to pick everyone up at noon. After we did pick them up, we took the gondola to the top of the mountain to eat lunch and check out the interpretive center. Lillian had already ridden the gondola twice while in child care, but it was Vivian and William’s first ride – one loved it (Vivian), one didn’t (William).

Chambers Family at the Top of Mammoth

Lil Checking Out the View

After we disembarked from the gondola, Dan took the littles home to nap and Vivian and I went up the Discovery chairlift three times and skied down the bunny slope. Mostly, I skied with her between my legs, but she did a little skiing and practice stopping on her own at the top. She loved skiing – going fast, riding the chairlift, everything! We were so relieved that she had a positive first experience on the slopes and we’re looking forward to her becoming a good skier as she ages.

Riding the Discovery Chairlift

First Time Skiing – 4 Years Old

The “Real” Woolly

Day 6: Drive Home to Orange County
Our drive home was as uneventful as our drive to Mammoth Lakes. We stopped by Convict Lake to see it, ate lunch at Alabama Hills Cafe in Lone Pine, and stopped for gas in Adelanto.

Lunch in Lone Pine

We had a really fun (and, also, as stated above, really exhausting) time playing in the snow in Mammoth Lakes. We were glad to be home in our own beds, though, and breathing more moist air. It is our hope that we continue to take ski trips as a family over the years so that all the kids learn to – and love to – ski/ride with us!

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LOVE MORE

The girls (and us) really got into Valentine’s Day this year, which was a lot of fun. We love love!

Of course, there were outfits, as shown below, and modeled the weekend before Valentine’s Day.

LOVE MORE

Lil Dancing in Her Valentine’s Day Dress

William Standing in His Red Garb

Then, there were crafts. The girls painted holiday frames at Michaels. They did a great job and I just ordered pictures to put in the frames so that they can put them in their room.

Painting

Painting Progress

Finished Frames!

There were also cookies – obviously! We made homemade cutout sugar cookies and frosted and decorated them and, if I do say so myself, they turned out wonderful! (And, hey, I only lost my schmidt twice while making them with the girls!).

Frosting and Decorating Cookies

Valentine Cookies

On Valentine’s Day morning, the girls awoke to gifts and a singing card from Nana, new socks and hair bows from us, and, of course, chocolates!

Valentine’s Day Loot

Valentine’s Day Outfits

The Cuter Than Cupid Kid and His Biggest Sister

Cuter Than Cupid

Vivian at Preschool on Valentine’s Day/Pajama Day

When we all got home at the end of the day we had flowers waiting for us from Daddy (designed at The Pretty Petal, our neighbor’s awesome flower business). Dan also revealed that he planned a belated Valentine’s Day tapas and sangria cooking class date night for us at The Wine Artist in early March.

Flowers From Daddy

Love was definitely in the air this year!

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