Showtime!

A few weeks ago, I took Vivian on a special date up to Hollywood to see Aladdin at the Pantages theater. We had great seats and both loved the performance (the Genie stole the show!). It was so cool to take Viv to her first Broadway musical, sit in the historical Pantages theater with her, and show her the orchestra at intermission. I can’t wait to take her again in the future!

Aladdin!

Waiting for the Show to Start

Reading the Playbill

After the show, we walked down the Hollywood Walk of Fame and ate dinner at a nearby restaurant and bar.

My Star on the Walk of Fame

We ate a decadent brownie dessert at the Chocolate Bar before making our way back to our car and then back home to Orange County.

Mmm…Chocolate!

Capitol Records in Hollywood

While Vivian and I were taking in her first Hollywood show, Dan took little Lillian to her very first movie – Peter Rabbit (actually, her first movie was Finding Dory when she was a few months old, but most of that was spent nursing in the lobby). I couldn’t believe it, but she sat through the entire movie and was engaged the whole time! The popcorn might have helped!

Baby’s First Movie

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February Trip to…Ohio?!

No, you’re not reading the same blog post twice. Yes, I flew to Ohio with the girls in January when I was 29 weeks pregnant to celebrate our niece’s baptism. Then, three weeks later, I flew to Ohio (well, technically, to Michigan) with the girls again when I was 32 weeks pregnant to celebrate my grandma’s life and mourn her passing. She died peacefully at 91.5 years of age on February 10, 2018. We felt very blessed to have visited with her less than three weeks prior to her passing.

Flight & Funeral Home
This time, we flew direct from LAX to DTW. We had strong tailwinds and arrived over an hour early. Praise God! (Note that these same winds would have me in tears wondering if we’d ever make it back to LAX on our 5 hour and 5 minute return flight.)

Mama and Her Sleeping Babies at Touchdown in DTW

My sister and her baby arrived in DTW from Colorado shortly after us and my Mom picked us all up and took us straight to the funeral home for my grandma’s showing. To say it was a long day for everyone would be an understatement, but we were very glad to be with our family and see so many people show up to support us at the funeral home.

Funeral & Family
The next morning, we gathered at the church to say our final goodbyes to Grandma. Honestly, one of the most heartbreaking parts of the morning was my Dad not being there with us. He’d had back surgery (again) four days prior to the funeral and he had pushed himself too hard after the surgery, attending meetings at the church and funeral home. On Friday morning, he could not move. My brother said that there was no way he could have even gotten Dad into a wheelchair, as Dad could not even roll off the couch. I could hear my Grandma’s voice from heaven saying, “I told him to rest. He just won’t listen!” So, everyone but Dad attended the funeral, short cemetery service, and then a lovely lunch at the church hosted by the women of the church. We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out with family. The girls also got to collect the day’s chicken eggs with Uncle Matthew.

In Our Funeral Best

Egg Haul

More Family
On Saturday morning, we joined the rest of the family to clean out Grandma’s apartment, and then we hung out at Dad’s before Matthew had to drive back to his home.

Damschroder Kids

Snow, a Sleigh Ride, & Snuggles
Sunday morning greeted us with a dusting of snow – enough for Vivian to build a little snowman (named Minnie Mouse) with my Mom. Lillian had a fever during our entire trip and was glued to me, so she did not join in on the snow fun.

Vivian and Her Snowman

In the afternoon, we visited Uncle Lee and Vivian got to play with him and his new race track.

Hugs From Uncle Lee

Racing Cars

Then we went to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center to ride on a sleigh through beautiful Spiegel Grove. Unfortunately, the dusting of snow present in the morning had melted by the afternoon.

Sleigh Ride

That night, Vivian got lots of snuggles from family and stories read to her.

Reading with Great Aunt Jane

Reading with Papa

Goodbye Ohio!
Finally, after four nights in Ohio, we got in our last family time and headed back to the airport to fly home to California. The girls did great on the flights – they are total pros now – but I had a rough time. I was 33 weeks pregnant and was DONE with flying.

Sisters Sisters!

Cousin Love

Ready To Go Home!

I know I said in my last Ohio travel post that we would not be returning to Ohio until later this summer with Baby Brother, but this time, I really mean it!

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Hiking Burned Santiago Oaks Regional Park

Last October, huge swaths of Santiago Oaks Regional Park were burned during Canyon Fire 2. Since then, the nature center, playground, and many trails in the park have been closed, although some trails are slowly reopening. Even though we haven’t had much rain this winter, new green grass, flowers, and undergrowth are sprouting from the ground beneath the burnt trees and shrubs. We explored 2.5-3 miles of trails in this park with some friends when I was 31 weeks pregnant. The park was beautiful with the mix of old and new natural environments and we definitely want to return when more trails are reopened, along with the nature center and playground.

Dan and a Hiking Kitty Cat

Climbing a Hill

Hiking Hand-in-Hand

Hiking Crew

Family Photo Post-Hike

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Limestone Canyon Hike on Wilderness Access Day

We went hiking somewhere new last weekend – Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. This Irvine Ranch Natural Landmark area where we hiked is only open during special “Wilderness Access Days” and you have to preregister to enter the area. My aunt and uncle were visiting from Michigan and so all six of us spent a few hours hiking 4 miles in Limestone Canyon. Despite being 30 weeks pregnant, I still carried both girls on my back at various times (everybody wants Mama!). We had hoped to hike a loop in the canyon, but we ran out of time and so we just hiked an out-and-back trail. One thing was definitely clear – our kids hike so much better with other kids around to distract and motivate them! Overall, though, the girls did great and we had a fun time exploring a new landscape.

Consulting the Hiking Map

Unexpected Run-in with Local Friends!

Our Hiking Group

Junior Ranger Viv

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January Trip to…Ohio?!

We have had unseasonably warm temperatures in SoCal this “winter” and very little rain. Boo! To contrast this, and, really, to attend and celebrate my new niece’s baptism, the girls and I flew to Ohio when I was 29 weeks pregnant. Dan stayed home to work. Ohio had been gripped by insanely cold temperatures and lots of snow, but the weather warmed for most of our visit.

Flying alone across the country with a 1-year-old (lap infant) and 3-year-old while 29 weeks pregnant might sound difficult, but it really wasn’t. The girls, especially Vivian, are excellent travelers and we have a traveling system down pat. Our flights out to Ohio were completely uneventful and for that, we were very thankful.

Ready to Travel!

Chicken Chores
Vivian (and Lillian) helped my Dad collect chicken eggs three out of the four full days that we were in Ohio. Vivian loved it! She got right into the coop and gathered all of the eggs. Lillian was more content to watch and pet the chickens.

Collecting Chicken Eggs

Egg Haul

Getting Up Close and Personal with Papa’s Chickens

4-Wheeler Rides
Lillian was happy to sit on Papa’s 4-wheeler, but she wasn’t ready to ride it. Vivian, however, begged for rides. My Dad indulged her and took for for rides behind our property. Vivian, apparently, sang to him during these rides and asked him to go “faster faster.” Dad assured me that he only shifted out of first gear once. 🙂

Ready to Ride!

Feeding Catch Me
The girls both love feeding Catch Me, the neighbor’s horse. In the summer, Catch Me spends much of her time in our apple orchard and so we can walk out back and easily pet and feed her. In the winter, though, she spends more time in her barn and on her own property. Dad arranged for the girls to go down to Catch Me’s house to pet her and feed her carrots and apples. Lillian, especially, had no issues hand-feeding Catch Me!

Feeding Catch Me

Baking Cookies
I cannot ever in my life remember my Mom buying cookies (or any baked good) at a grocery store, even if she just had to bring cookies to a potluck or gathering. My Mom bakes great homemade cookies and Vivian and her have been baking together for years now. This trip allowed them to bake snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies. Yum!

Baking Buddies

Bouncing & Sliding
One afternoon, my Mom and I took the girls to a new indoor play yard in a nearby town. The girls had fun, but it was probably the dirtiest indoor play yard that we’ve ever taken them to. I’m not sure if I’d take them again.

Visiting Grandma
My grandma – the girls’ great-grandma – is now 91.5 years old. We went to her apartment to visit her since she wasn’t going to be able to make it to Ava’s baptism. We had a nice visit, although the girls’ favorite parts may have been Grandma’s wheelchair and the aquarium of fish near the dining hall in her building.

Visiting Grandma

Visiting with Baby A!
The highlight of the trip, for everyone, was visiting and holding Baby A. The girls love their new baby cousin, even Lillian! We’ve been worried that Lillian would not adjust as well as Vivian did to having a new baby around the house and having to share her Mama, but she smiled bigger than anyone when she held A and only once did she try to shoo A away while I was holding her by saying, “all done, all done.”

Cousins!

Baby A’s Baptism Day
The reason for our trip east in January was to surround Baby A and her parents with love during her baptism. After the baptism, we all gathered at Mom’s house to eat and hang out. The girls got to spend time with some of their extended aunts and uncles and we all had a nice time catching up with each other.

Damschroders at the Baptism

Baptism Witnesses

Visiting with Uncle Lee

Snow Play
On the day that we were scheduled to fly back to California, it snowed! It was so pretty and the girls had fun playing in it for a little while – making snow angels, eating snowflakes, and chomping on icicles.

Snow Angel

Snow!

Eating an Icicle

Catching Fresh Snowflakes

Goodbyes
After 5 days and 4 nights in Ohio, it was time to go back to California. Our flights home were a little more “exciting” that our flights to Ohio. The girls, again, did awesome, but we were delayed leaving Toledo, which meant that when we finally landed in Chicago, we only had 30 minutes to get off the plane, get our stroller at gate check, rush from one end of gates to another, and board a new plane. I walked as fast as I could through O’Hare (now 30 weeks pregnant) with Lillian on my back, Vivian in the stroller, and our backpack and other travel gear on the stroller. When I approached the gate, out of breath, a gate agent was walking towards me, clearly looking for us. Everyone else had already boarded and they were about to close the doors. We made it, though. Whew! We boarded the plane and sat down and were treated to an extra “free” seat when a flight attendant came by and told the woman sitting next to me in our 3-seat row that she had to move. Lillian slept during the entire flight to LAX and Vivian watched Disney movies on our iPad (it’s the only time she’s allowed to use the iPad). We landed at crazy, dirty, loud LAX just after 10pm. Dan picked us up at 11pm. We were all home and in bed by 12:30am. And then, the next day, we were all up and at work, daycare, and preschool on time. It was only Tuesday, but we were all already looking forward to Friday! Thankfully, even though we were all exhausted, we all survived the trip without getting a single sniffle, which is saying a lot in this this awful cold and flu season that we’re having (unfortunately, Uncle Tim did not make it home quite so unscathed).

Playing at Toledo Express Airport

Saying Goodbye to Nana and Papa

Flying With My Babies

Ohio, we’ll see you again this summer, with one more baby in tow!

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MLK Weekend 2018: Rides, a Hike, & Strawberries

The girls and I had a long three-day weekend in mid January to celebrate and honor the late Martin Luther King, Jr. Although I reflected on his vast contributions to the civil rights movement and to our larger society (and felt frustrated at the recent steps we’ve seemed to take backwards with our current American “leadership”), the girls didn’t understand why they had an extra day home from daycare and preschool. Vivian is old enough, certainly, to understand some of Dr. King’s tangible roles in breaking down race barriers, but, honestly, she is still so young and innocent and I’m not quite ready to even tell her what race and color are and that people have been and still are discriminated and victimized because of these things. So…we kept things light and spent our time together riding the carousel, Ferris wheel, and train at the Irvine Spectrum Center; hiking about 4 miles (round trip) to Red Rock Canyon in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park; and picking (and eating!) strawberries at Tanaka Farms.

Irvine Spectrum Center Rides

Carousel Ride

Train Ride

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Hike

Babies in the Front, Back, and Side!

Our Littlest Hiker

Climbing That Last Hill

Red Rock Canyon

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Hike

Hiking Crew

Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour

Little Farmers

Tasty Strawberries

Tasty Strawberries

Our Girls are Getting Tall – Even in the Winter

At the end of the weekend, just like last year, we spent some time at the park. Vivian has been practicing riding her new bike to the park and is getting pretty good at it!

Bike Ride to Park

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Rawr!

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

Hatched!

Chambers & Turner Families

Us with Nana

Too Cute!

Us & Krimetzes

2018 is off to a fun start!

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