William’s First Business Trip

Our kids have to earn their keep, so off William went last week on his first business trip! In reality, I attended team meetings and training at our corporate headquarters in Rancho Cordova (near Sacramento) and William got some special bonding time with Grandma and Grandpa, who drove over from their house 2 hours away in Livermore. You can read details of his time spent with them in this blog post.

Unfortunately, the air quality was very unhealthy while we were in the area, due to the nearby horrific Camp Fire. In addition, William had the worst nights of sleep on his entire life while we were staying at the hotel. It was nice to spend time with Dan’s parents and show William off to all of my Northern California coworkers, but I don’t think we’ll be traveling for business again anytime soon. Perhaps William is a little too young to be expected to earn his keep!

Travel Time! 7 Months Old and 3rd Set of Flights

Smiles for Grandma and Grandpa

Happy to be Home!

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LEGOLAND, Part II

Last August, as part of our “summer of fun,” we spent a hot, expensive, exhausting day at LEGOLAND. The kids had fun, but the adjectives I used in the previous sentence do accurately describe our day. As we were leaving the park at the end of the day, we happened to pass by a park table where they were giving out free passes to come back to LEGOLAND in the Fall. Although skeptical about anything being “free,” we soon realized that these passes were truly free (well, I think we paid for them in advance with all of our purchases on our first trip). We picked a date in early November to return to the park when it was cooler outside and there were less crowds. Our second trip to LEGOLAND was great – it was not hot, expensive, crowded, or as exhausting as our outing in August. We went on some favorite rides and some new rides and also took time to explore the Sea Life Aquarium, which was really neat. We all had fun and if we go back again in the future, it will definitely have to be during the off season.

LEGOLAND California

Sea Life Aquarium

Daddy and Daughter After the “LEGO Friends to the Rescue” Show

William on “Mia’s Riding Camp” Carousel

 

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A Frenzy of Fall Fun

Fall is here (well, sort of…we live in Southern California near the coast). We skipped apple picking in September (you can read about last year’s adventures here), packed a lot of pumpkin into October, and are now 2/3 of the way through November. From start to finish, here is an overview of how we spent October this Fall:

Acorn Day at O’Neill Regional Park
This event was so fun, not too crowded, and one that we’ll definitely go to again!

Acorn Day

Our Littlest Acorn

Autumn Harvest Festival at Heritage Hill Historical Park
We will most likely skip this event in future years. It was wayyyyy too crowded.

Princess Meetup

Pumpkin Patch at Tanaka Farms
Wagon rides, pumpkin canon, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, corn maze, and more – oh my!

Farmer Lillian

Lillian in the Pumpkin Patch

Family Picture at Tanaka Farms

Baker Ranch Boo!
We love our neighbors! The girls were so excited to be “booed” by them early in the month. We, in turn, booed three of our neighbors.

We Were Booed!

Spooktacular Fun Day at the Orange County Great Park
This was a new event that was enjoyable (despite the rainy day). I imagine that it will be even better in future years as the event kinks get worked out.

Rainy Day at the Great Park

Pumpkin City’s Pumpkin Farm
A classic, of course! More rides, pumpkins, and a petting zoo.

Family Photo in the Sun

Baby Lil and a Baby Chick

Home Depot Photo Opp
We’ve taken each baby (5-6 months) to Home Depot, propped them up on a bale of straw next to pumpkins, and taken their picture. See the adorable triptych below!

Three Chambers Babies Sitting on Home Depot Pumpkins

Neighborhood Halloween Potluck
Every year, we get together with our neighbors for a potluck before Halloween. I can’t brag enough about how awesome our neighbors are!

#bakerranchlife

Pumpkin Dress Outfits
The girls got new pumpkin dresses this year. They are too cute, if I do say so myself!

Pumpkins and Pumpkin Dresses

Pumpkin Children

Halloween Preschool Parades
Vivian walked in two parades at preschool (again) this year.

Day 1: Rapunzel; Day 2: Princess

Trick-or-Treating
Official Halloween night costumes were Jack Jack (William), Princess Sofia (Lillian) – this costume was also worn two years ago by Vivian, and Butterfly Girl (Vivian) – this costume was also worn last year by Vivian.

Donatello Ninja Turtle

Jack Jack

Trick or Treat?!

Four Years…Three Pumpkin Babies
All of our babies wore the same pumpkin jammies on their first Halloween. I love a good tradition!

Viv, Lil, and Will

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SLO Weekend

Last week, Dan had to travel to San Luis Obispo and do some intern recruiting work for his company at his alma mater’s construction management career fair. Since we hadn’t yet been on a true vacation as a family of five, we decided to turn his work trip into a family road trip.

Day 1: Driving
After a full day of work, Spanish lessons for Vivian, dinner at home, laundry, and packing, we dressed all of the kids in their jammies and set off at 8pm to drive four hours north to San Luis Obispo. We were hoping that since it was the kids’ bedtime, they would all fall asleep and we’d have a quiet drive. They did all sleep, although not the entire time. And, by the time we arrived at our hotel just before midnight, they were all awake. Luckily, after checking in and unloading, everyone fell fast asleep and didn’t wake until later in the morning.

Butterfly Girls on Vacation

Day 2: Cal Poly, Children’s Museum, Farmers’ Market, Downtown
After stopping to see Dan on campus, I took the kids to the wonderful children’s museum in town and then out to lunch. If we didn’t have to worry about naps for the littles, we could have stayed at the museum all day.

Back on Campus

San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

More Butterfly Sightings at the Creamery Marketplace

To round out our full day (after the aforementioned naps), we went to the farmer’s market downtown. We watched a man ride a giant unicorn unicycle, bought fresh strawberries, marveled at the walls in Bubblegum Alley, ate street tacos from a vendor, and then topped the night off with delicious ice cream.

Bubblegum Alley

Farmers’ Market Craziness

Day 3: Zoo, Winery, Downtown
On our second full day in the area, we ventured outside of San Luis Obispo and visited the Charles Paddock Zoo (super small, but super cute) and adjacent park and went wine tasting at JUSTIN Winery. We ended the day with a drive by Morro Bay (while the kids napped in the truck), another stroll downtown, the purchase of Cal Poly gear for everyone, and tri-tip sandwiches at Firestone Grill.

Charles Paddock Zoo

JUSTIN Winery

Downtown Walk by the Mission

Tri-Tip Sandwich Dinner

Day 4: Hiking, Pismo Beach
We ventured out for a short (less than a mile) hike to the top of Terrace Hill and then followed it with lunch at an old favorite of Dan’s and ice cream at a new favorite. After late naps for the littles, we stopped at Dinosaur Caves Park so that the girls could play for a little bit (it was almost dark, though) and then grabbed dinner in Pismo Beach before walking the length of the pier.

Terrace Hill Hike

Day 5: Driving Home
We spent the last day of our vacation driving home through traffic. We had plans to attend our neighborhood’s annual Halloween potluck at the park that night. Besides traffic (a staple in SoCal), the drive was uneventful. Thankfully, the trip wasn’t and we had a wonderful time making great family memories.

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Take Me to Ohio

During the end of August and early September, we spent nearly two weeks in Ohio visiting with family, seeing new-to-us sites, and, most special of all, celebrating at my younger brother’s wedding. On this trip, William got to meet my dad and brother for the first time and he also got to meet a lot of extended family members for the first time. The trip wasn’t all roses and butterflies, though (although there were many flowers and butterflies, to be sure!) – we had a frustrating start with a missed flight in Chicago, it was very hot and muggy most of the time (and by the time it cooled off and began to rain, it was time to attend Matthew and Katie’s wedding), and my patience was thin after “traveling” with three kids for such a long period of time. No matter what, though, as always, we had a lot of fun and made a lot of special memories that we’ll enjoy thinking about for years to come.

As I said above, we had a rough start to our trip. I’m exhausted just remembering it, but in a nutshell, due to weather, we missed our connection in Chicago. I was traveling alone with all of the kids and quickly had to remember that I was the one in charge of three very small children. Missing our luggage, I steered the kids to a hotel shuttle and checked us into an offsite, but nearby airport hotel. I fed the kids, I let them run around like banshees all over the hotel, I bathed the kids, and I put them all to bed at their usual bedtime. I snuggled up in bed with Vivian and listened to a big thunderstorm pass by before falling asleep myself. It was my birthday and even though the day did not go as planned, at the end of it, I had all of my babies close by me and we were all safe and sound. The next day, luckily, we made it to Ohio on a small regional jet. Whew!

Morning Excitement Before a Stressful Travel Day

The rest of this blog post will provide a very high level overview of the things that we did while in Ohio. In many ways, this trip was similar to our trips to Ohio after Vivian was born and after Lillian was born (with one major exception – this time, we traveled with a very easy going, non-fussy baby!).

A day after settling into my mom’s house in Ohio, she and I took the kids to a Butterfly House and a really fun park.

Tandem Swinging at the Park

We spent a lot of time hanging out with my mom and dad. The girls collected chicken eggs, rode the four-wheeler, fed the neighbor’s horse, and played outside.

Collecting Chicken Eggs

Vivian Riding the ATV

Lillian Riding the ATV

Getting to Know Papa Better

Feeding Catch Me Apples

My mom and I took the kids to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium one day.

Dive into Adventure!

Baby Shark!

Dan flew out to meet us a few days after we arrived and we all attended the annual S.C.R.A.P. event.

Riding the Barrel Tractor Ride at S.C.R.A.P.

I had to work one day and so my mom, sister, and Dan took the girls to The Toledo Museum of Art’s Family Center.

Painting at the Art Museum

We visited a well known local donut shop and took the kids to storytime at the library.

Whole Wheat Wednesday Donuts

Library Storytime

We also took a tour on the Miami and Erie Canal aboard a historic canal boat pulled by mules.

Canal Boatride

One night, we left all the kids with my parents and rushed out to do a little wine and beer tasting with my aunt and uncles.

Night Out at Wine Flight

The best part of our trip, though, was attending my brother’s beautiful wedding in central Ohio. Vivian was a [reluctant] flower girl. Their venue was breathtaking, despite the torrential rains. And my brother and new sister-in-law were happily married.

Family Photo at the Wedding Rehearsal

Touring the Velvet Ice Cream Factory Before the Wedding

Our Girls in Their Wedding Best

With the Happy Couple

Handsome William

Before we left Ohio, we met up with the new Mr. and Mrs. at their post-wedding brunch.

Brunch at Southside Diner

Our flights back to California were blessedly uneventful and we arrived at our destination on the same day that we left our point of origin. Stepping foot off the plane meant stepping into a new reality for us. The next day, I went back to work full time and teaching part-time, Vivian went back to preschool full time, and William started full time daycare with Lillian. I left behind family in Ohio and a wonderful maternity leave, but I started looking forward to the upcoming Fall and winter holidays.When one door closes…

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Summer Lovin’ 2018

Summer has wound down. Labor Day has come and gone. All the kids are back in school and daycare full time. I’m back to work and teaching after my six-month maternity leave. Last week, even the calendar forced us all to admit that summer is officially over. In all honesty, I am not a fan of summer. Mostly, it’s too damn hot. Even now, it’s still too hot outside for my preference. This summer, however, though hot, was one of my favorites – and it definitely included my best maternity leave. Four years ago, when I also had summer off after having Vivian, I was actually pretty lonely learning how to mother a newborn baby. Two years ago, when I again had the summer off after having Lillian, I was so stressed and exhausted caring for a potty-training toddler and colicky newborn. This summer, though, I was able to enjoy special time with a feisty, but sweet, preschooler; a headstrong, but not-yet-potty-training (well, until the end of summer) toddler; and a magical newborn who actually slept and ate well on a schedule. The stars of summer aligned! Now, this isn’t to say that I was not tired, overwhelmed, and busy, but what I will remember most about this past summer are all the unique experiences that I shared with the kids (and not loneliness and stress).

For the first two months after I had William, I kept the girls in daycare and preschool full time. I pulled them out on random days to spend time with them and do fun activities with them, but I mostly focused on bonding with William. Then, in June, July, and August, I modified our schedules so that each girl was in daycare or preschool three full days a week; each one spent one day at home with just me (well, and William); and all three kids spent one day at home together. This schedule was nearly impossible for Dan to keep straight, but it allowed me to have some individual time with each child, the girls to remain social with their friends (and for Vivian to continue dance and swim classes at preschool), and all three kids to have playtime together. On the days that I had one (or both) of the girls with me, we did a fun activity outside of the house (so, three days a week). On the days that I was home alone with William (twice a week), I mostly did house chores and projects, snuggled William, and watched a lot of HGTV. If you’re as confused as Dan was, it boiled down to this: Mondays were William-only days; Tuesdays, Vivian stayed home from preschool with William and me; Wednesdays, Lillian stayed home from daycare with William and me; Thursdays were William-only days; and on Fridays, all three kids stayed home with me. Trust me, it worked out well!

So what did we do this summer? Well, here’s a snapshot (see also our Bay Area trip post and William’s baptism post):

Lake Forest Farmers Market

Pedicures

Afternoon Movie at the Library

Crafting at Lakeshore Learning

Park Play

Digital Artwork at the Mall

Big Smiles at the Shipley Nature Center

Fashionista Fun Hour at Bold Girlz

Movie Time

Visiting the Rescued Seals at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Trolley to Little Italy in San Diego

Throwing a Bowl at the Sawdust Festival

We Rock the Spectrum Indoor Playard

Baby Beach

Jim Gaffigan Comedy Show

Another Library Storytime

More Library Storytime

Riding the Carousel

We Rock the Spectrum Indoor Playard

Little Corona del Mar Beach

We Play Loud Indoor Playard

Butterfly Garden at the Environmental Nature Center

Yes, it was a busy summer, but oh, such a good one. And now, time for Fall fun!

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Baptizing Baby #3

On August 4, 2018, surrounded by his family at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, William (3 months old) was baptized according to the rite of the Roman Catholic Church. He wore the same baptismal gown that his daddy wore 35 years ago at his baptism and that his big sisters wore at their baptisms in 2014 and 2016. It was a beautiful, short, intimate ceremony and William was a perfect angel during it and did not shed one tear. We were so happy to have him baptized, especially while I was still on maternity leave, and were so pleased that his Nana; Aunt Robin, who is also his godmother; and cousin Autumn were there to celebrate with us. After the ceremony, we celebrated with lunch at Opah Seafood Grill, which was delicious!

Dan Holding William in “the Gown”

William and His Godmother

Proud Parents and Godmother

Chambers Family of Five

Baptized by Water

After the Baptism with Fr. Tim Ramaekers

All the Baptized Chambers Children

William’s Baptism Supporters

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