Birthday Girls

This Spring, our precious girls turned THREE and ONE. We’ve spent the last two months celebrating with special dinners, a joint birthday party, sweets, and, of course, lots of presents.

Vivian is a feisty little girl. To me, she does not seem even close to toddlerhood; she seems ages beyond that. She is incredibly smart, socializes well, sings and dances with beautiful abandon, and is very independent. She can throw a mean fit and struggles with listening (only to us, though, of course), but asks for snuggles from us every single day.

Vivian is THREE

Vivian celebrated her third birthday on her fourth day of preschool. She got to wear a crown, share homemade mini-cupcakes with her classmates, and be interviewed by her new teacher.

Vivian’s Birthday Interview

After school, we ate dinner at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, just like we did last year.

“Happy Birthday to You!”

Lillian remains our little peanut at only 18 lbs. 1 oz. She continues to be a challenge at night (still not sleeping through the night!), but is generally happy during the day. Her smile lights up her face and anyone else’s face who is looking at her. She is a good eater, climber, and she makes her wants known even though she can’t talk yet. To me, she still seems like a baby, not a toddler. I’m excited to see her grow and develop over the next year, as I know she’s just going to get more and more fun.

Lillian is ONE

Lillian celebrated her birthday with a steak dinner at home and then her first bites of ice cream (which she loved!).

In between the girls’ birthdays (which are five weeks a part), and while Nana was in town, their friends joined them at their gymnastics studio for a joint birthday party.

Vivian the Trapeze Artist

Lillian in the Foam Pit

Happy Birthday, Vivian!

Happy Birthday, Lillian!

Birthday Party Friends

Full Family Photo with Tired Kiddos

Crashing From the Sugar High and Activity

I should also add that in between all of this celebrating for the girls, we also celebrated Dan’s 34th birthday! Everyone is older now, except me – ha!

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The Shows Go On!

We’ve been taking Vivian to shows, plays, and musicals since she turned 2 and in these past few weeks, we’ve taken her to three more. It is so fun! She is totally entranced by the productions, sitting on our laps and snuggling us during the shows. We love the one-on-one time with her and giving her exposure to the performing arts.

Sleeping Beauty
I took her to see Sleeping Beauty at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Just look at how cute she is waiting for the show to begin with her dolly!

Ready for the Show!

The show was billed for 6-10 year olds, but she knew the story line and I thought she’d really enjoy it. Well…I should have read and comprehended the play’s description much better:

The classic fairy tale is told anew in David Gonzalez’s innovative and poetic presentation. Gonzalez, whose storytelling has been engaging imaginations for over two decades, combines quirky, rhymed verse, live music, multi-media, and the most extraordinary device of all — our imaginations —  to create a world in which our beautiful (and funky) princess is awakened by true love’s kiss…or not.

Let me break it down: Two dudes stood on a nearly empty stage for 50 minutes. One guy played a piano and one guy recited a 50-minute rhyming poem that told the story of Sleeping Beauty. Behind them, a giant projection screen displayed random artsy images (“multimedia”).

Honestly, I don’t know how any of the kids in that huge theater, including Vivian, sat relatively still through the show. Even I was bored out of my mind. I kept waiting for the actual play to begin, thinking that the poem and piano was just a prelude, and then 20 minutes into it, I realized, oh, this is it. Eek!

So, this was sort of a bust. But, I got to spend quality time with Vivian, we got to experience something new (and quite different!), and we got to visit a theater that we’d never been to (at Dan’s MBA alma mater), so it definitely wasn’t time wasted. I just wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else!

On Campus at UCI Outside the Irvine Barclay Theatre

Disney On Ice
A week after Vivian saw Sleeping Beauty, Dan took her to her first Disney On Ice show – Dream Big – at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. I think that this show was more in her wheelhouse. There was singing, dancing, princesses, and a churro. You can’t go wrong with any of those!

Ready for Disney On Ice

Churro Eatin’ at Disney On Ice

Dan attended Disney On Ice shows with his family while growing up and so it was neat for him to now take his own daughter to a show. Disney runs deep in his family and Vivian is certainly carrying a love for all things Disney into the next generation.

Fancy Nancy the Musical
On Mother’s Day, I took Vivian to a musical production of Fancy Nancy at the Chance Theater in Anaheim. Although Vivian had only read one Fancy Nancy book in the two days leading up to the musical, she was still able to follow the story line and she enjoyed the singing and dancing. The theater was small, which was perfect, and our seats were centered to the stage. The show was only about 50 minutes long, but unlike Sleeping Beauty, we would have been happy if it was longer.

Mother’s Day Kisses for Mama Before Fancy Nancy

Vivian with the Fancy Nancy Play Bill

Fancy Vivian at Fancy Nancy

So Fancy!

After the show, the audience was invited onto the stage to meet the cast and see the set. Vivian was being super shy, but I still took her onstage to see everything.

Fancy Nancy Cast, Set, and Guests

As we were leaving the theater, we were told that there was a Fancy Nancy tea happening in an adjacent room. There were games, treats, crafts, and a meet-and-greet with the the illustrator of the books. Vivian said that she wanted to go to the tea and so I forked over $46 so that we could attend. I’m glad that we went because Vivian did have fun, but I can tell you that it was not worth $46. Hopefully, though, the money went to the theater to help support its ongoing efforts and upcoming productions.

Being Fancy Eating Cupcakes

Drinking Strawberry Milk

Playing a Cookie Eating Game

Trying to Balance a Banana on Her Head

I got such a kick out of seeing Vivian so thoroughly enjoy the musical and tea – it was the perfect Mother’s Day outing!

Next up is Sesame Street Live! Elmo Makes Music in June. Vivian saw her first Sesame Street Live! show last year with Dan and I’m excited to take her this year. Sesame Street Live! was the first live show that I saw when I was a toddler!

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Overdue Truck Upgrade

Dan bought his 2002 Toyota Tundra in 2006, the year he graduated college. He’s driven this truck through graduate school, five jobs, three houses, two kids, one dog, and one wife. The truck is still running, but it has over 216,000 miles on it! It has an extended, but not a crew, cab and so although it can (barely) fit one rear-facing convertible car seat and one infant seat, it cannot fit two rear-facing convertible car seats (yes, our 3-year-old still rides rear-facing – it’s five times safer than forward-facing and she is well under the height and weight limits to remain rear-facing). We’ve known for a long time that we were going to need to upgrade the truck and now seemed like as good of time as any, before any more maintenance costs crept up and before Lillian needs to move into a convertible car seat.

A few days before Dan’s 34th birthday, he came home from work very excited – he’d found the truck that he wanted to buy! However, it was $6K more than what we had agreed we would spend. I quietly let him pitch his purchasing plan to me and then, when he’d completed his proposal and looked nervously at me, I smiled at him and said “Happy Birthday! Get it!” I think that he was surprised, but I was mostly relieved that the search was over and I wouldn’t have to get him another birthday gift.

Dan initiated the purchase and the whole family went to the dealership to sign the final papers for our new Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew 4×4 truck.

New Family Truck!

Dan LOVES (I cannot stress this enough) driving his new truck. It has all the bells and whistles and technology that you could imagine (and lots that you can’t!), has a very large interior, and is just so darn nice and new! The luxury of the new truck will make selling the old Black Stallion much less difficult. It is definitely our new preferred mode of transportation and we are looking forward to many years of comfortable commuting in the new truck!

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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


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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