Easter Eggstravaganzas

Easter eggs – everywhere! Although our Easter celebrations were only a week long, they included, twelve dyed eggs, FIVE egg hunts, two petting zoos, two bunny photo opps, two train rides, one ferris wheel ride, one carousal ride, and one painted face. Whew!

First, we “hopped into Spring” in our Baker Ranch community.

Neither of the girls are too fond of the Easter Bunny, yet.

Meow! Meow!

Egg Hunt Haul

Then, Vivian participated in two egg hunts at her preschool. Prior to this year, we owned zero plastic eggs. Now we own, well, a lot! She also brought home many bunny crafts.

Bunny Preschool Crafts

On Good Friday, daycare and preschool were closed, so I stayed home with the girls and took them to the Irvine Spectrum Center to ride the attractions, walk around, go to lunch, and get some treats.

Both Girls’ First Ferris Wheel Ride

Ferris Wheel Selfie

Kiddie Train Ride

Horsin’ Around on the Carousal

Shopping

On Holy Saturday, I took the girls to the Lake Forest Beach & Tennis Club’s Eggstravaganza event.

Goat Wrangling

Girls Easter Bunny Photo Opp; Still Not Impressed…

Then, Dan dyed eggs with Vivian.

Colorful Eggs

On Easter morning, Vivian really enjoyed searching for and finding all of the dyed eggs that the Easter Bunny had hidden. She also liked seeing all of the goodies that were left in her Easter basket.

Easter Baskets

New Goggles!

New Sunglasses!

I took the girls to Easter mass and although I don’t think that I actually got to mutter a single prayer during the service, it was still nice to be there.

In our Easter Best Before Church

Dan was sick all weekend, so he didn’t get to participate in all of our Easter activities. He did get to join us all in an Easter afternoon nap, walk, and park play, though!

This was Lillian’s 1st Easter (and Vivian’s 4th!) and she really wasn’t old enough to keep up with her big sister, but next year, I think she’s going to give Vivian a run for her money in all of the egg hunts!

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Plentiful Poppies

The California Poppy is our state’s flower and right now, it is in bloom. We went on a very ambitious expedition to view fields of them last Sunday. None of us had ever been to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve and so we drove (and drove and drove and drove) up there to meet up with some friends, hike, and view the poppies.

Some things to note if you come across this blog post and decide that you, too, want to visit the Poppy Reserve:

  • Parking is horrendous. We sat in traffic for a very long time (after a very long drive) and finally ended up parking on Lancaster Road and walking into the reserve. There is very little shoulder on the road, so it can be a little nerve racking walking along the crowded road with a stroller or little kiddos in tow. You do not have to pay to enter the reserve if you walk in.
  • There is very little shade in the reserve. Bring hats and sunscreen.
  • It is WINDY there. You will be covered in dirt by the end of your adventure.
  • You can push an off-road (B.O.B) stroller on the trails.
  • Lines for the restrooms are looooong. Of course, the men’s line moves much faster. Use that restroom, even if you are a woman! There are no laws against that in California!
  • The visitor’s center (technically, the Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center) is pretty pathetic. It’s small and is comprised mostly of a gift shop. There is a short, crappy video that you can watch, which is not very informative, but does play in a dim little cubby that allows you to get out of the sun (and nurse your baby, if you have one!).
  • There are not very many picnic tables and they aren’t well shaded.
  • Bring lots of water; it is very dry there!
  • If it’s too cold or too windy, the poppies may close up.

We hiked .2 miles to Tehachapi Vista Point and then completed the 1.6 mile Poppy Trail North Loop. We did indeed see a lot of poppies (on our hike, and on our drive) and many other flowers. Overall, the girls did well on the hike, alternating riding in the stroller, walking, and being carried.

Family Poppy Picture

Mama, Baby, and Poppies

Dan Pushing Lil Through Poppy Fields

I am glad to have seen the poppy fields, but, check, this is now off my “to see” list and I can’t imagine feeling a pull to return. As we were walking back to where our car was parked on Lancaster Road after our hike, Vivian mentioned something about coming back here and I told her, “Nope, we’re not coming back!” It is just too far away, too difficult to get access to, and too stressful for me. We had a nice time together as a family, and it was fun to see and catch up with friends, too, but after all that driving (5 hours total!), I think that we’ll stick to springtime activities closer to home over the next few weeks.

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Springtime Whale Watching

Lillian went on her first boat ride last weekend. She was about the same age that Vivian was when she went on her first boat ride. The four of us ventured out of Newport Bay into the Pacific Ocean to go whale watching with Davey’s Locker. I have been whale watching at least three times. I’ve seen zero whales. Dan went whale watching in the third grade and was very sick and had a horrible experience. So, it was time to make new, happier, whale watching memories!

Our excursion was about 2.5 hours long on a decent-sized boat (I have no idea what kind of boat or exactly what size). It was a beautiful day and the trip up and down the Orange County coastline was breathtaking. The ocean was so blue and the hills were so green. Sometimes living here ain’t half bad.

No one got sick on our trip. Lil was happy and spent most of the trip on me, sleeping part of the time. Viv had a blast running around the boat, coloring, and watching the whales, dolphins, and seals. And, oh yeah – we saw whales!!! We saw quite a few whales and even saw them surface and then dive back down into the water with their tails up – very cool. We also saw hundreds – yes, hundreds! – of dolphins in a huge pod. And, of course, we saw seals in the harbor.

Baby’s First Boat Ride

Family Whale Watching Trip

Windy on the Water

Dan and Vivian Dolphin Watching

Dan and I got to have a drink on board and since the girls were so happy and having so much fun (or, at least not fussing), we all had a really, really good time. It was another one of those pleasantly memorable days that will make me smile for years to come.

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Chambers 2015 Family Photo Book – Better Late Than Never!

I’m always behind on my photo books. But, since I went back to work last Fall after having Lillian, I started taking 1-2 personal days off each month – for ME – to work on the books and do other house chores. I send the girls to daycare and try not too feel too guilty about not spending my time off with them. In addition to getting a lot of random stuff done around the house (like vacuuming behind the bed, cleaning out the vacuums, and scrubbing scuff marks off the walls), I have finished my second pregnancy photo book, Lillian’s birth photo book, and Lillian’s newborn photos book. And, as of yesterday, I have finally finished our 2015 family photo book!! These books take me so long because I carefully organize and review all the photos and then craft books that tell the story of our year. And, they take so long because our lives have gotten increasingly more busy. In 2013, the year before we had Vivian, my photo book was only 61 pages. My 2015 photo book was my largest yet at 185 pages!!

So, without further ado, here it is:

Now to start in on 2016…

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Disneyland, Day 2

We wrapped up our winter trips to Disney last weekend with our second trip to Disneyland. This time, we joined the Turner family at the “happiest place on Earth.”

After arriving at the park – after lunchtime! – we went straight to Micky’s Toontown so that Vivian could ride Gadget’s Go Coaster with Ben. Toontown was overrun with kiddos and so, so many people, so we skipped out after the rollercoaster and went to Fantasyland and rode “it’s a small world.” This was Lillian’s first time on this ride and she loved it! Her head was constantly swiveling to see all the sights inside the ride and she was so thrilled that she clapped and clapped. It was so fun to see her having so much fun!

Lil’s First Ride on “it’s a small world”

While in Fantasyland, we took the kids on Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and then tried to take them on Snow White’s Scary Adventures, but the ride broke down two riders ahead of us – boo! Our little Snow White was all ready to ride it, too!

Happy Little Snow White with Mama

Happy Little Snow White with Daddy

We switched lands after the Snow White disappointment and went to Adventureland so that Vivian and Dan could ride Jungle Cruise (Lillian had fallen asleep). Afterwards, Vivian and Ben had a blast playing with bubbles (these were all over Disneyland and a huge hit with all kids!).

Bubbles!

We went on one last ride as a family and with the Turners – Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square. I was a little worried that Vivian would be freaked out by the drops, but she loved it. She even said it was her favorite ride! (She’s been on it before, but wasn’t old enough to fear the drops. Lillian rode it the first time on this trip and wasn’t phased by the drops at all.)

Family Photo Opp in New Orleans Square

We left the park before it got dark and everyone melted down. Dan bought Vivian a giant $9 balloon on Main Street, U.S.A., and then we walked to our car via the Downtown Disney District. And, once again, Vivian had to shake her groove thing for the live band playing.

I got a huge smile on my face watching Vivian dance and Dan dance with her. My smile got even larger when I realized that the band playing was the Doo-Wah Riders. Dan and I saw this band, with his parents, seven years ago at the Bankhead Theater in downtown Livermore. Back then, we were only dating; now, we are happily married with two little girls. Seeing this band again was a nice reminder of how sweet life can be sometimes – and how circular!

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It’s All About the Princesses

I am not a girly-girl and no one in my family or Dan’s family is. We have never called Vivian a “princess” or bought her any clothes or toys that say “princess.” But, somehow, just like so many other little girls, Vivian is obsessed with princesses! She managed to absorb the princess craze in this world and so, of course, we support and indulge her (although we still don’t call her a princess or buy her princess clothes and toys). She has some hand-me-down princess dresses that she asks to wear all.the.time. She has also seen a few Disney movies with princesses (The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella) and she loves them – she loves watching them and loves singing all the songs from them. So…when we bought tickets that allowed us to spend a day at California Adventure, I also made a reservation for us to have a “princess celebration” lunch at Ariel’s Grotto.

It was a rainy day in SoCal, but a good day to be at California Adventure, because the rain diminished the crowd size. It was also a good day to go to a princess lunch because although it was pouring rain outside, we were snug and dry inside the restaurant. Before being seated at our table, we took a family photo with Ariel. Despite being so excited to see princesses, Vivian was at first extremely shy around them, even covering her face with her hand when she was close to them.

Family Photo with Ariel

Family Photo with Ariel

We sat down at our table on the edge of the dining room and immediately, the first princess was announced. Throughout our (extremely overpriced – a kid’s meal was $24!) meal, Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella, and Tiana were presented and then paraded around the dining room, kindly stopping at each table for a chat with the kiddos and a photo opp. Again, Vivian was extremely shy at first, but as the meal went on, she warmed up and eventually talked to, touched, and took pictures with the princesses. Lillian was just along for the ride and mostly enjoyed feeding (or, making a giant mess) herself.

Vivian and Rapunzel

Vivian and Rapunzel

Both Girls Loved Rapunzel

Both Girls Loved Rapunzel

Vivian and Cinderella

Vivian and Cinderella

The Princess and the Cucumber

The Princess and the Cucumber

Vivian got to eat her meal with a real “dinglehopper” – just like Ariel did in The Little Mermaid.

Lunch via a Dinglehopper

Lunch via a Dinglehopper

We also started Vivian’s 3-year birthday celebrations a little (two months!) early and sang to her and let her eat a chocolate cupcake. She was in heaven!

Happy Early Birthday!

Happy Early Birthday!

After lunch we circled Paradise Pier, zoomed through Cars Land, and ended the day in “a bug’s land.” Whew, we did and rode a lot:

King Triton’s Carousal – Loved by Both Girls

Glasses On – Ready to Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with Dan

Flying on Golden Zephyr

Lil on The Little Mermaid

Viv Petting Mater

We had a full – and long – day, but a very good one! We have one more day left to use on our three-day passes and we’re going to spend it at Disneyland. So, more, coming soon!

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Snow Angels, Balls, & Sledding

We have gotten pounded with much needed rain this winter and the mountains have received feet upon feet of snow, even our local SoCal ones. We had hoped to take a weekend trip to the mountains, but the reality of that faded and so we decided to just take a day trip to play in the snow with the girls. Next year, though – weekend trip, for sure! We want to get Vivian on skis for the first time next winter!

We timed our trip up to the mountains so that it wasn’t directly after a big snowstorm. We didn’t want to deal with traffic and we also didn’t need the most fresh snow to play in. So, last Sunday, we drove up to Snow Valley Mountain Resort and all bought tickets (Lillian included – infants weren’t free here!) for an afternoon of snow play. It was about 40 degrees out with some wind, but the sun was shining, so it wasn’t bitter cold. Our tickets and time on the mountain allowed us to take four sledding runs. We had to wait in line to get on the chairlift, ride the chairlift, and then wait in a long, slow line at the top of the hill before being allowed to sled down it. Only two sledding runs were open and the staff was regulating the number of sledders allowed down the hill at one time.

Sledding Sisters!

Sledding Sisters!

Vivian Sledding

Vivian Sledding

Lillian Sledding

Lillian Sledding

Both girls did very well waiting around so much. They both enjoyed riding the chairlift (their first rides – and, yes, 9-month olds can ride chairlifts!) and sledding. Vivian also made snow angels, threw snowballs, and made a mini snowman. She was soaked and tired at the end of the afternoon, but we knew that she had had a blast because despite her deteriorating attitude, she still wanted to keep sledding.

Vivian's First Chairlift Ride

Vivian’s First Chairlift Ride

Infants Can Ride Chairlifts, Too!

Infants Can Ride Chairlifts, Too!

Snow Angel

Snow Angel

Sledding Bear

Sledding Bear

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

We stopped in the lodge long enough to drink a beer and regroup before our drive home. Even though Lillian was fairly quiet throughout the sledding activity and she was carried around the whole time, she was apparently exhausted from all of the time outside and all of the activity around her. She fell asleep minutes into our drive home and slept right up until bedtime, only waking briefly to eat!

Fun in the Snow

Fun in the Snow

Family Snow Picture

Family Snow Picture

So, sledding this year, but skiing next year!

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