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 thought 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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Disneyland, Day 1

For the first time ever, we actually purchased tickets to Disneyland. We took advantage of the SoCal Resident prices, the young ages of the girls, and packed food and drink to minimize the impact to our wallet and it worked out well. We prepaid for access to a park (Disneyland or California Adventure) for three days prior to the end of May and used our first day last Sunday. The last time Vivian went to Disneyland, she was 20 months old. And this was Lillian’s very first time to Disneyland!

Disneyland!

Disneyland!

Unfortunately, a bunch of the rides that we wanted to take Vivian on were closed (Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland Railroad, and “it’s a small world”). But, she really enjoyed the rides that we did take her on and we all had a lot of fun.

The first thing that we did when we finally got into the park was walk through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Vivian has been enthralled with Sleeping Beauty lately and she’s seen the movie a few times. She even got to see Sleeping Beauty walking through the park and afterwards, she couldn’t stop talking about seeing her in her pink dress.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

We spent the first half of our day in Fantasyland, riding the Storybook Land Canal Boats (Lil’s first and only ride of the day), King Arthur Carrousel (this was Viv’s first Disneyland ride when she was 1 month old, which may be why she loves carousels so much!), and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

King Arthur Carrousel

King Arthur Carrousel

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

After a churro snack, we left Fantasyland and walked to Mickey’s Toontown.

Churro!

Churro!

Vivian had a BLAST in Mickey’s Toontown. She leved every part of it – Gaget’s Go Coaster (her first roller coaster!), Chip n’ Dale Treehouse, Donald’s Boat, Goofy’s Playhouse, and the lollipops that she got to share with Dan!

Lollipops in Line

Lollipops in Line

After Mickey’s Toontown, we quickly visited Tomorrowland and took Vivian on Autopia for the first time. She steered the car while I pressed the gas pedal and even I was surprised at how well she “drove” the car.

2 Going on 16

2 Going on 16

From there, we boarded the Disneyland Monorail back to the Downtown Disney District to begin our walk back to our car. We’d had a very fun day and didn’t want to overstay our welcome.

As we were walking, the Downtown Disney Live! band was playing and Vivian was mesmerized. She LOVES to sing and dance and so we had to stop to join in on the impromptu dance party.

By the time we made it back to our house, both girls were fast asleep – the sure sign of a fun day!

Our Sleeping Beauties

Our Sleeping Beauties

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Great Day in Griffith Park

Some days, honestly, are just crappy. They’re hard, long, exhausting, and frustrating. Kids will do that to your life. But, man, some days are so, so good. They are peaceful, enjoyable, fun, and heart-warming. Kids will do that to your life, too. Last Saturday, we experienced one of those great days that we will fondly remember forever.

After Vivian’s gymnastics class, we drove up to Griffith Park in Los Angeles. There are a lot of fun things to do there, especially with kids (pony rides, train ride, carousal, zoo, etc.), but we decided to visit the observatory and hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood (both of which I’ve done before, but Dan and the girls hadn’t).

It’s a giant pain to navigate the traffic and find parking near the observatory; luckily, we snagged a spot off the side of the road just past the tunnel and below the observatory. Also, luckily, both girls napped on the drive up and arrived happy and well rested.

We walked up to the very crowded observatory and walked in and around it, taking in the beautiful architecture of the building, the swinging pendulum (which Lillian loved watching), and the sweeping city views. They only allow children under 5 into their first show of the day and we had missed that, but we were happy to simply walk around inside and outside. When the kids get older, we’ll take them to see the planetarium shows.

Outside Griffith Observatory

Outside Griffith Observatory

In Front of Griffith Observatory

In Front of Griffith Observatory

We then left the crowds behind and began our trek up Mt. Hollywood. Because of all of rain we’ve gotten recently, everything was green, green, green! The hills/mountains and terrain were gorgeous! Dan pushed Lillian in the B.O.B. stroller and I carried Vivian on my back in the Ergo carrier. The hike is about 3 miles with a 500 ft. elevation gain. Although the weather was cool and the girls were bundled up, Dan and I worked up a sweat carting them (and ourselves) to the top of the mountain!

Girls on the Trail

Girls on the Trail

Dan and Lillian Hiking

Dan and Lillian Hiking

Hollywood Sign Views

Hollywood Sign Views Along the Trail

We arrived at the top shortly before sunset and took in the amazing views below and around us. Because it was a cooler, winter day, and because of our timing, there were very few people on the trail with us and at the top.

Climbing to the Top!

Climbing to the Top!

On Top of Mt. Hollywood

On Top of Mt. Hollywood

Lillian and the Hollywood Sign

Lillian and the Hollywood Sign

As we hiked back down the trail, the sun set and then all the city lights below us turned on. Our view changed, but stayed just as awesome as our daylight view on the hike up. We arrived back at our car just as darkness enveloped the park.

While Dan started driving back down to the park entrance/exit, I looked up a nearby place where we could eat. We quickly decided upon The Morrison Pub, just off the 5 and Los Feliz. We again lucked out with parking by snagging the last spot in their parking lot. And, we lucked out with getting a table right away, despite not having a reservation, when a party ahead of us was a no-show. Service was fast, the food and drinks were good, and although our kids were crazy, we were all happy.

Lillian Wants a Drink!

Lillian Wants a Beer!

After dinner, we drove home – in peaceful silence again as the girls slept. Back at our home, we were able to successfully transfer Vivian from the car directly into her bed for the night. Lillian woke up during her transfer, as expected, but I was able to quickly nurse her back to sleep.

So…all in all, a very fun family day. We never could have done all of this four months ago when Lillian was still colicky and we are still so thankful that she is happy and we can get her out (and on top of mountains) to see the world (and the Hollywood Sign)!

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MLK Weekend: Flying, Reading, & Bouncing

We did a few new, fun things with the girls this past weekend.

Santa Monica Airport: On Sunday, I participated in a paid research study in Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. While I gave my opinion on concept cars, Dan took the girls The Museum of Flying. He said it had quite a few interactive exhibits that both girls enjoyed. When I met up with them after my study ended, one of the museum workers was unlocking a fire truck so that Vivian could climb up in it and turn the sirens on.

My Pilot and Co-Pilots

My Pilot and Co-Pilots at The Museum of Flying

After we all left the museum, we walked over the observation deck at the airport and watched the planes take off and land. We were standing only feet away from the runway, so we had a primo view of all the activity. The airport had a playground and garden on site and we walked through those, stopping to play and smell the flowers, on our way back to our car. The entire outing was fairly low-key, but fun, and easy to do with the kids. It was also a bit unexpected, because we originally thought that we would go to the Santa Monica Pier. In the end, it was much easier, less stressful, and probably more fun, to spend the afternoon at the Santa Monica Airport. Plus, we’d never been to the airport before and it was neat to check it out.

Vivian Next to the Bronze Sculpture of Donald Douglas and His Dog, Bar

Vivian Next to the Bronze Sculpture of Donald Douglas and His Dog, Bar

Once Upon a Storybook Book Store: Although I had MLK day off work, Dan didn’t. The girls’ daycare was also closed, so the three of us spent the day together. In the morning, I took them to an “Itty Bitty Storytime” for toddlers at Once Upon a Storybook in Tustin. We sang, read, and bought a new book – Iggy Peck, Architect.

Storytime

Storytime

Scooter’s Jungle Indoor Play Yard: Then, we went to Scooter’s Jungle in Aliso Viejo so that Vivian could run, play, and bounce for 1 1/2 hours. When we walked into this indoor play yard full of toys and bounce houses, Vivian’s eyes got huge. I could hardly contain her long enough to give her some simple instructions. She had a blast bouncing, sliding, climbing, and playing.

Even Lillian got in on the fun – and she certainly enjoyed watching all of the activity around her.

Almost Sitting!

Almost Sitting!

Big Chair for a Little Girl

Big Chair for a Little Girl

Odyssey Park: We returned home in the afternoon for naps, and then set out for a walk and some park play.

It was one of my best days with the girls yet. It was sooooooooo much better than my crazy maternity leave days. Now that Lillian is older and happier, I don’t have to stress about car screaming (and screaming in general). I didn’t have to constantly nurse her, and, in fact, only nursed her once during our outing. And now that Vivian is fully potty trained, I didn’t have to stress about her peeing or pooping herself. Everyone was happy and had fun. And that made me happy. It’s really too bad I can’t take six months off work now to be with the girls!

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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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