We rang in 2018, well, by sleeping. But when we woke up, we packed up the truck and headed south to spend the day with our friends at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. My mom was still in town visiting us and so we had a full and fun day with our group of 11 (two families and two sets of grandparents!). I was the only person in our family who had ever been to the Safari Park and that was almost nine years ago (back when it was called the San Diego Wild Animal Park). Our girls love animals (especially Lillian) and so it was a lot of fun to explore the park and see all of the animals. We rode the Africa Tram, walked along the new Tiger Trail, and ate lunch at the Watering Hole at Kijamii Overlook (highly recommended!). Visiting the park during the winter and on a Monday holiday (New Year’s Day) meant short lines and small crowds and no inland heat – win, win, win!

First Bird Sighting!

Tull Family Tiger Trail

Baby Lil & Baby Tigers!

Our Little Monkey

Learning About Snakes

Kijamii Overlook

Kijamii Overlook

Daddy & Lil

Not Quite as Big as a Gorilla


Chambers & Turner Families

Us with Nana

Too Cute!

Us & Krimetzes

2018 is off to a fun start!

Posted in Baby, Eating, Holidays, Sightseeing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Year, Newly Painted Wall

Many years ago, I swore off painting for the rest of my life. I had painted the entire interior of my condo and Dan’s townhome and was done. When we built our new house, we paid the builders to paint it, but they could only paint every wall the same color. We picked a light grey color for all the walls and called it a day. This past summer, we replaced our master bedroom furniture and bedding and I thought, “hmmm…it might be nice to paint an accent wall in here, too.” When my mom came to visit at the end of 2017, it provided the perfect (and probably only) opportunity to paint that accent wall.

Vivian helped me buy the paint and she helped us paint the wall. I was worried that allowing a 3-year-old to paint a wall would be a disaster, but she actually did very well.

Looking at Paint Samples (We picked Behr’s “charcoal blue” in eggshell.)

Home Depot Painter




We are very happy with the final result. The project only took one day to complete and it also gave me an opportunity to thoroughly vacuum and clean the baseboards behind the bed, which, if you know me, will help me to sleep much better at night!

Updated Master Bedroom

Posted in Baby, Home | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Christmas

Just like we celebrated Halloween throughout all of October and Thanksgiving throughout all of November, we also celebrated Christmas throughout all of December. I love all the holiday celebrations in the last quarter of the year! Prior to having kids, I couldn’t have cared less about Halloween and Christmas. I loved Thanksgiving, but generally only spent one day a year celebrating it. Drawing out the holidays and enjoying them with kids makes them, well, so much more enjoyable! I’m actually quite sad now that they are all over and we have a long stretch of winter and spring months ahead of us with few holiday celebrations.

We started preparing for Christmas right after Thanksgiving by decorating our house and visiting the large tree in Fashion Island. We also briefly saw Santa for the first time this season, but only at a safe 6-foot distance. Both girls (especially Vivian) still hated Santa this year.

Fashion Island Christmas Tree

Then we attended our community’s “whimsical candy land” holiday  event, where we again saw Santa, and where, again, both girls gave him fearful looks and didn’t dare get too close. We also toured our neighborhood to see the lights with friends.

Baker Ranch Santa Picture

Baker Ranch Holiday Lights Crew

We saw the Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade, which has become sort of an annual tradition for us.

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights

Viv showed off her choreographed singing and dancing talents at two holiday performances at her preschool, which were adorable.

Daddy and Mama with Vivian After Her Preschool Performance

In the middle of December, we flew up to the Bay Area to celebrate Christmas in Livermore and the Napa Valley.

On Christmas weekend, days before Santa’s big arrival, I took Vivian to see her second Disney On Ice performance (Follow Your Heart). We had a really nice time, until Vivian threw a giant fit on our way out of the Honda Center when I wouldn’t buy her a ridiculous $30 light-up spinning toy.

Mama and Vivian Date Night at Disney On Ice

Always Follow Your Heart

We spent one morning at the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. While there, we attended a kids’ “Wild Tales” reading/crafting/hiking program that was a lot of fun and something that I definitely want to take the kids back to while I’m on maternity leave next year.

Painting at Wild Tales

Making a Snowflake Ornament at Wild Tales

Hiking at Wild Tales

Unexpectedly, we watched the final SpaceX rocket launch of 2017. Our kitchen window/backyard views were awesome.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch on 12/22/17 From Vandenberg Air Force Base

Finally, we celebrated Christmas proper with church and gifts and, lastly, a visit from Nana.

In Our Christmas Best. Lillian is wearing a dress I wore as a baby 36 years ago.

Santa Came!

Santa Babies

Nana Came!

What a fun ending to our very busy 2017. I know 2018 is going to be even crazier, but even more fun, too. Happy Christmas everyone – and Happy New Year, too!

Posted in Baby, Holidays, Sightseeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Holiday NorCal Trip

At the end of last summer, prior to Dan knowing that I was pregnant with our third child, he arranged a romantic overnight trip for the two of us in the Napa Valley in mid-December. He booked a night at a beautiful historic cottage and then presented his plan to me as a 37th birthday/6th wedding anniversary gift. Then I told him that I am pregnant. Despite this new knowledge, we still wanted to get away, even though, unfortunately, my ability to taste wine would be limited. A night away comes only every two years for us now, so we’ll take what we can get when we can get it!

Dan’s parents had agreed to watch our girls overnight, so we flew up to Oakland and sandwiched our parents-only getaway in between a trip to visit them. This itinerary also gave us a great opportunity to celebrate Christmas with Dan’s parents and in Livermore.

Seeing the Lights at Deacon Dave’s in Livermore

Unwrapping Grandma and Grandpa’s Christmas Gifts

While the girls played with Grandpa and Grandpa and went bowling with Uncle Alex, Dan and I drove north from Livermore to the Napa Valley. We stopped and ate lunch in downtown Napa and then went wine tasting at two wineries – Clos Du Val and Silver Oak. Honestly, we were underwhelmed at Clos Du Val – the wines were good, but we didn’t feel that they merited the high price tag that some of our other favorites do and the tasting experience was unremarkable (especially for $40/tasting). We had just randomly stopped at this winery on our way out of Napa, so after this experience, we decided to focus on stops to some of our favorite wineries. So…next up was Silver Oak, which we’ve been to before and which we love. It did not disappoint. We had a fun time tasting there and seeing the winery decorated for Christmas.

Outside Silver Oak

Next, we continued north to Calistoga and checked in for our spa treatments at Baths Roman Spa – a mud bath and massage for Dan and a mineral bath and facial for me. Calistoga is known for it’s healing mineral water and mud and so…when in Rome… The baths were certainly an…um…experience. We probably won’t repeat it in the future, but we are glad to have some funny memories from it.

We checked into our cottage and then ate a lovely and quiet meal at the Calistoga Kitchen. All in all, it was a great day!

Brannan Cottage Inn

Brannan Cottage Inn

The next morning, prior to leaving Calistoga and driving south back to our girls, we checked out the Old Faithful Geyser of California, one of only three “old faithful” geysers in the world (the other two are in Yellowstone and New Zealand). We did indeed see the geyser erupt – many times. We also walked the grounds, visited their little museum, and checked out their goat heard. The entire place was a huge tourist trap, but it was fun in a kitschy sort of way.

Old Faithful Geyser of California

After leaving Old Faithful, we stopped at Twomey, Duckhorn, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars to taste their wines – this was, of course, the best part of the day! We grabbed a to-go lunch at Dean & DeLuca’s and then continued our drive back to Livermore.

Twomey Cellars

Duckhorn Vineyards

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Our girls were happy to see us again, although they did great with Grandma and Grandpa (and Grandma and Grandpa survived 30+ hours with two young children). Dan and I had a truly wonderful time in the Napa Valley and are counting the (sniff…sniff…years) until we can return again sans kids.

Two Precious Girls & Their Grandparents

Posted in Baby, Drinking, Eating, Holidays, Sightseeing, Travel, Wine Tasting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Coming Soon in 2018: Family of Five

It’s the end of an odd numbered year, so that means that, in keeping with an every-two-year-cycle, we are once again announcing a pregnancy! I am due with our third child, a BOY this time, on April 9, 2018. As a reminder, Vivian’s birthday is April 6 and Lillian’s is May 11. All of the kids will be nearly exactly 2 years a part in age. And, once again, I’ll be taking almost six months off work next summer for maternity leave. I’m kicking myself a little bit about this timing, as I hate the heat of summer and would so much rather have winter off work, but it is what it is.

So, beginning in Spring 2018, we will officially be outnumbered. It’s okay – you don’t have to congratulate us. You can simply wish us good luck! And send diapers – ha!

Big Sisters

18 Weeks Pregnant in Bend, OR

It’s a BOY!

Bring on More Craziness!

Posted in Baby | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Time to be Thankful

We celebrated Thanksgiving 2017 very similar to how we celebrated Thanksgiving 2016 – at home with just our little family of four. It was relatively relaxing and stress free.

Prior to Turkey Day, we joined Vivian for two Thanksgiving Feasts that she had at her preschool. Dan made mini cornbread muffins for the meal and it was just too cute to see Viv with her Indian and pilgrim hats on socializing with her friends.

Preschool Thanksgiving Feast

We also joined our Baker Ranch neighbors for a Friendsgiving in the park. Dan grilled (yes, grilled!) a turkey for the meal and although his experience started out with a small grease fire, the turkey turned out amazing in the end! He will definitely grill turkeys again!

Grilled Turkey

On Thanksgiving morning, we all ran in the Dana Point 5K Turkey Trot race. Dan pushed Lil in our jogging stroller and I pushed Viv in a similar jogging stroller that we borrowed from a friend. Viv and I beat Dan and Lil, just as we have done in the previous two family 5Ks that we have run, but our margin of winning is decreasing – eek! I won’t even mention our exact times because they are so abysmal. Such is life now, though, with no time and energy to work out (excuses, excuses!)!

Family 5K Turkey Trot

We had a fairly simple dinner at home with just the four of us. We spent the rest of the weekend hanging out, napping, decorating for Christmas, and visiting Zoomars, our local petting zoo.

Viv Petting a “Bunny Pig”

Lil Petting a Guinea Pig

Goat Nibbles and Tickles

Our Little Cowgirl

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Little Indian and Pilgrim (and Viv’s Ginergerbread Turkey)

Posted in Baby, Eating, Holidays, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Family Vacay: Oregon Edition

In early November, I attended a content strategy conference in Portland, Oregon. Since my company was already footing the bill for my travel costs, we decided to expand the trip and include Dan and the girls and some extra nights outside of Portland in Bend.

As soon as we got on the plane in Orange County, I realized that Lillian had a fever and was sick. The Motrin was packed in our checked luggage, so we had to wait until we landed in Portland before giving her any. She ended up having a fever for at least 4 days (we didn’t have a thermometer with us to confirm her temperature) along with a stuffy nose and cough. And…apparently, she also had an ear infection! Our kids have each only ever had two ear infections in their lives and they never pull at their ears when they are sick, so I rarely think about the possibility of them having them. I never even knew that Lillian had an ear infection until we had been home for two days and I took her to her pediatrician for her regularly scheduled 18-month appt. During our trip, she was, well, a handful, and now we certainly know why. She must have felt awful with an ear infection, being at higher elevations, and flying. We administered a 10-day dose of antibiotics after finding out about her diagnosis and her temperament improved greatly!

We arrived in Portland with a sick baby, luggage for eight days for a family of four, and two very heavy car seats. And we committed to taking public transportation while in the city! So, we loaded up into a MAX Light Rail car and rode it into downtown. By the time we got there, both girls were asleep – Viv in the stroller and Lil on me in the Ergo carrier. Dan and I had to carry the luggage and car seats two blocks to the hotel while doing our best to keep the girls asleep. We (sweatily) succeeded and even managed to check in and get halfway through a late lunch before the girls woke up.

Riding the Light Rail

After settling into our hotel room, we took a bus to Marco’s Cafe in Multnomah Village to have dinner with my friend, Susan. She and I were flatmates in England in 1999 when we were both studying at the University of East Anglia during a semester abroad. At the time, she lived in Texas and I lived in Ohio. We’ve kept in touch and visited each other over the past two decades, although we hadn’t seen each other in many years so it was really nice to reconnect in person again.

Dinner at Marco’s Cafe

We had three and a half days left to spend in Portland proper and I had to attend my conference during that time. While I was at conference sessions, Dan took the girls to fun, kid-friendly places in the city. In the evenings, we went out to dinner and explored the city as a family.

Shopping at Powell’s Books

Visiting the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park

Planting at the Discovery Museum at the World Forest Center in Washington Park

Dinner & Playtime at Mother’s Bistro

Walking Across Tilikum Crossing

Exploring Duniway Lilac Garden (Until it Started Raining Hard!)

After four full days in Portland (which we loved), we were ready to escape the city and explore inland Oregon. We rented a car and drove a few hours southeast to Bend, through the snowy passes, and checked into our VRBO house.

Oregon’s Snowy Mountain Passes – Beautiful!

We spent the remaining four days of our trip hiking, visiting museums and breweries, and catching up with more friends. We absolutely loved Bend (like everyone else!) and are dreaming of ways we could move there.

Visiting the Denneys

Finally, after eight days, it was time to fly home. We really cannot wait until we can return to explore more of Oregon – or, you know, move there!

Leaving Redmond to Return Home

Posted in Baby, Drinking, Eating, Hiking, Sightseeing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments