Chilled

Since I spent much of New Year’s weekend preparing for – and then cleaning up after – our New Year’s Eve party, I wanted to get out of the house last weekend and do something fun. On Friday afternoon, I purchased discounted tickets for us to go to The Queen Mary’s CHILL event. We’d never been to this event before and I didn’t research it ahead of time – I just thought that it would be a fun thing to do to close out our holiday celebrations.

We arrived at the event after dark, which was good, since it meant that we could view the Christmas lights that were still strung outside. As we walked to the main portion of the event, we passed wooden holiday decorations in poor shape that lined the walkway. Already, this event seemed kind of hokey. A group of singers was singing and dancing on a stage, and Vivian loved that, so we stopped to listen to them for a little bit. Then we entered a large dome, which I later read about in years’ past used to actually be “chilled” and contain snow, ice sculptures, and additional tubing. This year, it contained a super small carousal, which we all rode, and an Alice in Wonderland walk-through exhibit, which we did not walk through after other guests told us that the line was over an hour long and the exhibit was not worth it.

Merry-Go-Round

Merry-Go-Round

There was ice tubing inside the dome, but Vivian was too small to do any tubing. There was also a martini bar, but, alas, Vivian was also too small to drink. So, after one ride on a pathetic carousal, we left the dome through the nearly empty gift shop (the only way to exit, of course!). There was a set of swings outside of the dome that used to be at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, but, again, Vivian was too small to ride them. Instead, she bounced in a very small bounce house, and then we called it a night.

Candy Playland Bounce House

Candy Playland Bounce House

The ice skating and paint ball activities cost extra (not that we would have participated in those anyways). There was a 4-D Polar Express movie experience, but the wait was too long. And there was also the “world’s largest rocking horse,” but the wait was too long for that too (and it looked super lame).

So…final review: LAME! Check this off the list. Would not go again! Not worth $18 in parking. Not worth the price in tickets. Not worth the drive or time. But…Vivian did have fun and she was very happy. She wasn’t old enough to understand how pathetic the entire event was.

Our tickets to CHILL also included admission to The Queen Mary, so we boarded the historic docked ship and ate (an overpriced) dinner at the Chelsea Chowder House & Bar. We did have stunning views of the Long Beach skyline from our dinner table, though, which was cool.

Aboard The Queen Mary

Aboard The Queen Mary

Soup and Dinner with a View

Soup and Dinner with a View

Overall, although the CHILL event was lame and overpriced, we did have a nice time together as a family. The girls were well behaved and happy, the drive wasn’t full of infant screams, and we did get out of the house and get to experience something new. After we got home, we put the girls to bed, and were happy that our plans for the following day were more low-key and closer to home!

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Welcome 2017!

We ring in the new year very differently than we used to. For example, seven years ago, I celebrated the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 at a big party at a hotel in downtown San Diego with a bunch of my girlfriends. We drank, we danced, we laughed, we crashed. This year, we did still party, but it was at our house with our neighbors and all of our kids. Admittedly, we did drink (a little) and we did laugh (a lot). But we also watched a large group of kiddos play and run and cry and poop and get into everything imaginable (including Amazon Fresh bags and gardening stakes in the garage!). And we did crash – right before midnight! All in all, it was a great way to end 2016 and ring in 2017. We love our neighbors and we loved having everyone over at our house. And even though the kids are crazy, it is so much fun seeing them all have fun together.

We officially rang in the new year at 9pm (New Year’s in New York), but the party continued for a few hours after that until each mama, daddy, and kiddo was at home in bed. Vivian partied hard until the end, but Lillian slept soundly in her bed through the entire gathering (well, except for waking up every 2-3 hours to eat).

Here are a few pictures from the party. In total, we had 22 adults and 14 kiddos (ages 0-6) at our house. So fun!

Party People

Party People

More Party People

More Party People

Some of the Baker Ranch Mamas

Some of the Baker Ranch Mamas (and Kiddos)

Black and White Baker Ranch Ladies

Black and White Baker Ranch Ladies

Baker Ranch Kiddos

Baker Ranch Kiddos

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Lil's First NYE

Lil’s First NYE

Chambers Sisters Ringing in 2017

Chambers Sisters Ringing in 2017

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Christmas for Four

This year, for the first time EVER, we stayed home for Christmas. As in, our home. We did not travel to either one of our parents’ houses. There were no trains, planes, or automobiles. No one traveled to spend the holiday with us, either (which was perfectly fine with us!). We had a lovely holiday with just us four. We think this will be our new normal.

The week before Christmas, we boarded the Christmas Train at the Irvine Park Railroad to visit Santa. Lil seemed to like Santa. Viv seemed to still be freaked out by him.

Visiting Santa

Visiting Santa

On Christmas Eve Eve, we ate an early dinner, bathed the girls and put them in their jammies, and then loaded them into the car. We went through the Starbucks drive-thru and then drove around for almost two hours looking at Christmas lights in Nellie Gail Ranch and Baker Ranch and listening to Christmas music. The weather was cold and windy, as a rain storm was blowing in. I remember driving around looking at Christmas lights before we had kids, imagining what it would be like to celebrate the holidays with kids of our own. This year, there was no need to imagine – our two precious girls were with us, snug in the backseat.

On Christmas Eve, Dan baked homemade cutout sugar cookies with Vivian. I made homemade spaghetti for dinner. We went to mass at 4pm. Dan helped Vivian put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. And then…Santa came!

Making Cutout Cookies

Making Cutout Cookies

Fast Asleep - AFTER Church!

Fast Asleep – AFTER Church!

Waiting for Santa

Waiting for Santa

Christmas day was a lazy day (well, as lazy as it can be with two small babies at home). We opened presents. Dan helped Vivian paint outside using some of her new art supplies. I made a pot roast and homemade mashed potatoes for dinner. In the afternoon, Lillian and I took a walk around the neighborhood and then in the evening, we all walked around the neighborhood and looked at Christmas lights and the city views.

Chambers Girls in Their Christmas Jammies

Chambers Girls in Their Christmas Jammies

Playing with New Toys

Playing with New Toys

Painting

Painting

Bundled Up for a Walk

Bundled Up for a Walk

Before the day was done, Dan had composed this poem and posted it online. Too, too funny!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
Wait just a minute – that wasn’t it
For Christmas this year, I won’t feed you bullshit
We just finished making cookies and were covered in flour
When Carrie said, “We must be at church in one hour.”
I looked at little Vivian who is just past two
“Ready in one hour” is about the best she can do
The tale I will now tell you led to our Christmas psychosis
And reaggravated my granulomatosis
You see earlier that day, Vivian had skipped her nap
Because she had asked me to and I’m a warm-hearted sap
Her behavior that evening was not quite the best,
Perhaps due to early onset PMS?
I need to go back, I’m getting ahead of myself
Let’s just say Viv is lucky there’s no elf on our shelf
Through fussing and crying we cleaned up our mess
I threw on a shirt; Viv picked a dress
Carrie prepped Lillian and we head to the car
With 20 minutes to spare and church was not far
Although crowded it was, we found a parking space
Miracles were happening all over the place!
Upon entering the church, our eyes filled with gloom
It seemed all that was left was just standing room
I traded for Lillian and picked a spot by the door
Carrie wandered down front and sat with Viv on the floor
Then a miracle happened, wouldn’t ya know
Space for one more family – in the front row!
Things broke down after the first reading
As we all said ‘Amen’ and returned to our seating
Viv pointed to the altar showing where she was to go
Carrie and I together silently shook our heads no
She grinned and did what she intended to do
With no words at all she was saying, “Eff you!”
Carrie’s reactions are quicker than mine
And she grabbed our girl in the nick of time
But that was just the beginning of it
As Viv melted down into one full on fit
While Viv was committing this mortal sin
Mom looked at Dad – it was time to tag in
Of course once I had her, she did perfectly well
Like ice cubes are currently freezing in hell
So the evening went on, we did the best we could do
Then wouldn’t you know it, Lil joined in too
When I couldn’t take any more, I took Lil outside
And low and behold that just turned the tide!
Since Lil was silent and crying no more
I looked at my fantasy football score.
Yes I know – I wasn’t too proud
But Carrie will hear you if you say it too loud
Since it appeared that I had no chance of winning
I went back inside to finish the inning
We finished the service and left after communion
As parishioners looked at me like a heathen
We zoomed out of the lot and had not gotten far
When I only heard silence and looked back in the car
And of course the reason I did not hear one peep
Is because both of them were fast asleep
And then my jaw nearly hit the floor,
When Carrie smiled and said, “I still want two more.”
We rushed through our dinner and put the kids to bed
“We can make number three now if you want to,” I said
Carrie sighed and told me she had too much to do
Now the balls in Santa’s sack aren’t the only ones that are blue
Carrie always does too much before she gets her rest
Lil would be up again in three hours at best
Eventually, though, Carrie went up the stair
As I stared off in space, while I sat in my chair
Clearly it had to get better than this?
In just forty-five minutes it would be Christmas
I let Carrie get a 30 minute head start
(Because when I come to bed I snore and I fart)
I yawned and I slowly slipped under the covers
And held onto my pillow as if we were passionate lovers
Seven hours later I awoke with a smile
I had not slept the whole night through in awhile!
I grabbed Viv and Lil and we went down the stair
Mom was still sleeping blissfully unaware
I got the kids breakfast and I did my best
To make no noise and let Mom get her rest
Two hours later Mom woke to the clatter and came down the stairs to see what was the matter
There was fog in her eyes as she stared at me
But it lifted after just three cups of coffee
(Carrie had gotten up four times last night, to her detriment, but Lillian’s gastro-delight)
We smiled and laughed as we opened each gift
A happy Christmas morning gave us all a great lift
As we gathered this morning around our green tree
I thought to myself, “how I love my family”
Let’s all be honest, sometimes life gives you shit
But through faith and love you make the best of it
I hope that this story has made you all chuckle
‘Cuz the Chambers may bend, but we will never buckle
This Christmas has given us time to reflect
That no matter how much we try, no one is perfect
To all of our friends we wish you good cheer
Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Since we also had December 26th off work, we continued our holiday celebrations. Dan took Vivian to the park for a few hours. We all went to the Santa Ana Zoo‘s Winter Zoobilation (pretty lame). Of course, we had to ride the train and carousal while we were there, in addition to looking at the monkeys and other animals.

Winter Zoobilation

Santa Ana Zoo’s Winter Zoobilation

Mama and Her Monkeys

Mama and Her Monkeys

Of course, I’m a little sad that Christmas is over. It was fun listening to Christmas music (and hearing Vivian sing many Christmas songs) this past month. It was also fun getting into the holiday spirit over the past few weeks – decorating, baking, wrapping gifts. It kind of felt like Christmas was a month long and not just one day. We are looking forward to celebrating many more Christmases with our girls – at home!

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Early California Christmas in Livermore

The entire Chambers clan, sans brother Alex, descended upon Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Livermore the second weekend in December for an early family Christmas. Dan’s sister, Robin, and her family, flew in from Oklahoma City, and we flew up from Orange County. Dan’s dad had broken his hip and had emergency hip replacement surgery the week before, so the weekend was a little different than originally planned, but we all got to spend time together, and that’s what mattered most.

Friday: After arriving late on Thursday night, our first order of business on Friday morning was a walk to Starbucks! It looks like Lillian will be taking after her daddy and his love for fancy coffee.

Starbucks Baby!

Starbucks Baby!

Later in the day, Robin’s family and our family boarded the Niles Canyon Railway Train of Lights and our girls got to see Santa for the first time this holiday season.

Waiting to Board the Train of Lights

Waiting to Board the Train of Lights

Saturday: On Saturday morning, we celebrated an early Christmas around the tree.

Happy Mama and Baby with Their Christmas Gifts

Happy Mama and Baby with Their Christmas Gifts

The cousins spent a ton of time playing together. They all got along so well and had a blast with each other.

Cousins and Friends for Life

Cousins and Friends for Life

Sharing

Sharing

Building Towers

Building Towers

On Saturday afternoon (which was also our 6-year engagement anniversary), we went wine tasting at Wente with Lillian. This was Lillian’s third time wine tasting and she’s only 7 months old!

Wine Tasting on a Rainy Afternoon

Wine Tasting on a Rainy Afternoon

And later that evening, Dan and I did something that we very, very rarely get to do these days – go out on a date! We saw a movie (Office Christmas Party) and ate a late-night sushi dinner downtown at Roppongi Sushi.

Sunday: After a day spent visiting and playing, we took the kids to see Deacon Dave’s Christmas lights.

Traditionally Visit to Deacon Dave's

Traditional Visit to Deacon Dave’s

Monday: On Monday, before we flew home, we all posed for a family picture (sans Alex).

Chambers Family

Chambers Family

It was a hectic, chaotic weekend, but a good one, too.  As much as we enjoyed visiting with family, we are really looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home with just our two girls.

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All the Thanks

In the chaos of everyday life with young children, jobs, houses, friends, family, and a dog, it’s hard, even on Thanksgiving, to reflect and give thanks for all the good in our life. But now, in the quiet of our house while I take a “mental health” day off from work, I sit in amazement of all that we were blessed with this year.

First and foremost, we give thanks this year for Lillian’s very successful surgery to repair her annual pancreas. Her birth, surgery, and homecoming were much less traumatic than I was prepared to experience. And now, at 6.5 months old, she is happy, healthy, and growing. As the saying goes, you do not realize how important your health – or the health of your loved ones – is, until it is compromised. We are thankful that everyone in our family is in overall good health.

We are also so thankful for the spice that Vivian adds to our life; for our marriage that keeps the foundation of our family strong, even when things around us seem to be falling down; for our warm and cozy house in the most wonderful neighborhood; for jobs that we like and that pay our bills and allow us to enjoy our lives (and allow me to take six months off for maternity leave); for our ability and willingness to travel to experience new things and places and to maintain strong relationships with our families who live far away; and even for Snoopy, that crazy dog!

This Thanksgiving, we spent the entire 4-day weekend at home in Orange County. We didn’t travel anywhere and no one traveled to visit us. We love our families, but this more quiet and simple holiday was NICE!

On Thanksgiving morning, we checked off one of our 2016 New Year’s Resolutions: Run a 5K together as a family. I ran with Vivian in a jogging stroller and Dan ran with Lillian in a jogging stroller. It was a slow race, especially for me who hasn’t run at all in over a year. I did run the entire race, though, without stopping to walk or rest, and finished in a humbling 38:26. Dan finished in 48:04.

Happy Thanksgiving from Dana Point!

Happy Thanksgiving from Dana Point!

Ready to Run!

Ready to Run!

Both girls fell asleep by mile 2 of the race. When we got home, Lillian fell back asleep for THREE hours (thank you, thank you!). Dan and I made dinner for our little family of four: brie and crackers, turkey breast and gravy, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, dressing, and chocolate pie. Lillian joined us at the table for the first time and ate her first bites of solid food: homemade butternut squash!

Lil's First Food

Lil’s First Food

Our Littlest Turkey

Our Littlest Turkey

Viv in Her Thanksgiving Dress

Viv in Her Thanksgiving Dress

We enjoyed dessert and company over at our friends’ house and retired at the end of the night thankful that we still had three days of work off!

On Black Friday, we, of course, did NOT go shopping. Instead, we went to Laguna Beach and walked through town, Main Beach, and Heisler Park. We capped off our day trip with lunch and gelato.

November in California - Laguna Beach

November in California – Laguna Beach

Heisler Park Walk

Heisler Park Walk

Since Lillian wasn’t a huge fan of butternut squash on Thanksgiving, we fed her homemade sweet potatoes on Black Friday. She did much better with those! I fed her while Dan took Vivian to see a showing of The Polar Express at our clubhouse.

Day 2 of Solid Food - Success!

Day 2 of Solid Food – Success!

Practice with a Sippy Cup

Practice with a Sippy Cup

On Saturday, Dan and Vivian made cutout cookies using his family’s recipe.

Rolling Out Cutout Cookies

Rolling Out Cutout Cookies

We also decorated our house for Christmas and trimmed the tree. It was a wonderfully rainy day and the perfect day to stay inside, decorate, and watch Christmas shows on TV.

Trimming the Tree

Trimming the Tree

On the last day of the weekend, I took Vivian to a matinee showing of the musical, The Little Mermaid, at the Rose Center Theater in Westminster. She loved it! And I loved having over two hours of uninterrupted snuggle time with her!

The Little Mermaid Musical

The Little Mermaid Musical

At the end of the weekend, we had all sorts of new memories for which we could be thankful!

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SeaWorld, Round 2

Since we had bought 2-day passes to SeaWorld last summer and we still had one day left to use on our passes before the end of 2016 (see blog post from day one here), we ventured down to San Diego last Sunday to meet up with our friends, the Turners, and spend the afternoon at SeaWorld. This trip was also made possible due to Lillian finally stopping screaming in the car (can I get an Amen?!).

We had a pleasant drive down to SeaWorld with no traffic. The girls napped. It was a beautiful day and we happily walked towards the entrance gate.

SeaWorld, Round 2

SeaWorld, Round 2

As soon as we got into the park, the day fell apart. Vivian, who is now scared of public toilets due to a very unfortunate auto flush incident, refused to sit on the toilets. So, she peed herself. Then, she pooped herself – twice. I lost my mind over these incidents and was in a terrible mood. (Bad, bad mom.) We watched two shows (the dolphins and sea lions), saw a few exhibits (sharks, turtles, sea lions, and penguins), let Vivian play in the Sesame Street Bay of Play (until she pooped herself), rode the Skytower (which we didn’t get to do last time) to view the sunset and super moon, and then called it a day. We said goodbye to the Turners and began our drive home north.

Ben and Viv

Ben and Viv

Friends Hugging Goodbye

Friends Hugging Goodbye

Our drive home took forever – okay, maybe more like two hours. We were stuck in horrible traffic. We were all tired and hungry. As Dan and I pulled into our garage, I said, “we’re never leaving the house again.” A bit dramatic, yes, but the day didn’t end up being the fun and exciting day that we thought it would be. Perhaps instead of never leaving the house again, we’ll just pick some activities to do with the girls that are a bit closer to home at locations that do not have automatically flushing toilets.

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It’s Fall Y’all!

It’s Fall – perhaps the best season of the year! Sadly, we don’t live in a geographic location where we can really feel it, but we still can celebrate it, and boy did we this year!

We started our Fall celebrations promptly on October 1 with a visit to Pumpkin City when my mom and sister were still in town visiting us. Vivian got to ride a pony, pet goats, bounce in a bouncy house, ride little rides, and run all over.

Pumpkin Patch with Nana and Aunt Anna

Pumpkin Patch with Nana and Aunt Anna

First Pony Ride of the Season

First Pony Ride of the Season

We're All Getting Tall!

We’re All Getting Tall!

Our Family at Pumpkin City

Family Photo in the Pumpkin City Pumpkin Patch

In the middle of the month, we attended the Autumn Harvest Festival at Heritage Hill Historical Park, near our house. Vivian got to meet her favorite princesses, go trick-or-treating, get her face painted, and, again, run around.

Walking Through The Little Mermaid Exhibit at the Autumn Harvest Festival

Walking Through The Little Mermaid Exhibit at the Autumn Harvest Festival

Then, we went to our second pumpkin patch at Tanaka Farms with our friends, the Bullocks. Vivian watched a pumpkin cannon shoot pumpkins across the fields, rode in a wagon around the farm, picked pumpkins, pet more goats, and walked through a corn maze.

Farmer Vivian

Farmer Vivian

Family Photo in the Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch

Family Photo in the Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Haul

Pumpkin Haul

We carved the pumpkins that we bought at Tanaka Farms that evening. We carved them way too early in the month and right before a heat wave. They didn’t last through the week and had to be dumped into the trash five days later. Oh well – we had fun carving them!

Carving Pumpkins in a Pretty Dress

Carving Pumpkins in a Pretty Dress

Our community hosted a Halloween event where Vivian crafted and ate chocolate apples.

Family Photo at Baker Ranch Halloween Event

Family Photo at Baker Ranch Halloween Event

We stopped into Home Depot to pick up something and even took a few pictures in their indoor “pumpkin patch.”

Home Depot "Pumpkin Patch"

Home Depot “Pumpkin Patch”

At the end of the month, we attended our HOA’s community Halloween event. Vivian picked pumpkins, got her arm painted, had a balloon animal made for her, played carnival games, jumped, played ball, and had her caricature drawn (as did Lillian).

Baker Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Baker Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Jumping

Jumping

Cat Princess

Cat Princess

Two days before Halloween, we attended a neighborhood potluck at the park and we all had fun talking to our friends and watching the kids run around and play.

Family Photo at our Neighborhood Potluck

Family Photo at our Neighborhood Potluck

With one day left before Halloween, we visited our final pumpkin patch of the season at the Irvine Park Railroad. We all rode on a little train and a straw ride. Vivian also rode a pony and bounced in another bouncy house. It was a perfect rainy, cool, Fall day.

Family Train Selfie on the Train

Family Train Selfie

Waiting for the Straw Ride

Waiting for the Straw Ride

Cowgirl Vivian

Cowgirl Vivian

Pumpkin Picking

Pumpkin Picking

Almost Three Feet Tall

Almost Three Feet Tall

Ye-haw!

Ye-haw!

On Halloween morning, the girls dressed in their best costumes before daycare.

The Princess and the Pumpkin

The Princess and the Pumpkin

And on Halloween night, we all went trick-or-treating. Vivian had a BLAST and Lillian really enjoyed being out-and-about.

Trick-or-Treat!

Trick-or-Treat!

Chambers Family Trick-or-Treating

Chambers Family Trick-or-Treating

Lillian slept in her pumpkin jammies that night, just as Vivian did two years ago.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Whew! I think we did it ALL this FALL! (I would have loved to have gone apple picking, but Lillian was still a car screamer during apple season, so we had to skip that this year.) In between all of our Halloween fun, we spent many evenings watching the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown over and over and over. And now, on to my favorite time of the year and favorite holiday – Thanksgiving!

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