Archive for the ‘Family upgrades and updates’ Category

I won’t say that 2008 has been easy for us, but it sure has been fun!  Our life has been completely turned upside down this year, and frankly, I’ve never been happier.  Here’s a rundown:

I vowed to never spend another winter in Michigan.

I got an awesome job in sunny Southern California.

Brian was out of town for work the entire month of March, while I (with the help of family and friends) packed up the house.

We drove across the country to our new home.

The Girl switched schools.

The Boy got potty trained.

The Girl lost her first tooth.

The Boy found his incredible sense of humor.

We have seen Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean.

We found out we really like hiking.

The Girl hurt her elbow.

The Boy swallowed a quarter.

Brian found stable work.

We lost our Maggie Mae.

We gained Bacon.

The Girl started 1st grade and has more playdate invites than we can deal with.

The Boy made friends in dance class, and also has some playdate invites.

We found out what 110 degree heat actually feels like (and we love it!).

We experienced our first earthquake, fire season, and Black Widow.

We got rid of cable tv, and don’t really miss it.

We have a mouse living on our patio, thanks in part to “Reindeer Food” that we had to sprinkle out there.

We (well, I) fell in love with In and Out burgers and El Pollo Loco tacos…oh, and Sharky’s shrimp tacos…heaven…..

We had our first snow-free Christmas.

And now, we will celebrate our first New Year in our new home.  We wish you all the very best in 2009!

(ps, if you read this through a reader, you should really go look at the new blog theme!)


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Photo by ManonManon

Remember when you were little and your parents made you go to church? I grew up in a Lutheran family and attended a Lutheran school, from kindergarten through 12th grade. I was probably an oddball, because I actually enjoyed going to church, and can’t honestly remember ever putting up a fight about it. But, then I went to college at a state school, and put church on the back burner….actually, it was in the fridge…nowhere near any kind of burner at all.

Then I met Brian, and we both transferred to a different school. We got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. Actually, Brian was WAY more involved than I was. I did not particularly care for the people in the group. But, I did start going to the Lutheran church on campus every so often. At the time, Brian attended a local church called “Young Church”. I didn’t really care for that either because they were very non-traditional (no communion, rock bands, you get the picture).

Then we got married and our church-going waxed and waned. We finally found a church that we both liked, which was a perfect mix of tradition (communion, hymns that I knew growing up, litanies) and non-traditional (rock band, drama club). We joined that church, and were members for about 2 years or so.

Then we moved to LA. We tried the local Lutheran church, but it just didn’t do it for us. Then Brian was working weekends, so we didn’t go to church at all for a while. Then I met a girl at work, who told me about the church that she attends. We talked about it a few times, but it was only after I became her boss that I finally got around to going. I thought at first that it would be weird for her to have her boss at church, but really, we don’t really see that much of each other when we are there, so it’s not a big deal.

That being said, I really like this church. It’s very non-traditional. I mean, REALLY non-traditional. There is no communion. There are no litanies. There is an actual rock band, and dancers, and professional stage lighting. The first time we went, the kids did not like the noise, so I told them that it’s like a concert for God. And that is exactly what is like. But, it’s so much more genuine than the church Brian went to back in college. These are real people, many of them who came to LA to be performers, performing for God. It’s fantastic. And the pastor’s message always hits home, and he makes the Bible so relevant for today’s times. It’s really great.

And the kids really like it too. The Boy loves to go to Kids Church (that’s what they call Sunday School) because there is a slide, and playdoh, and he learns about God. The Girl pretends to be shy, but when we pick her up from Kids Church, she always tells us what a great time she had and what she learned.

There are also a lot of ways to volunteer or otherwise get involved at this church. I am not ready for that level of commitment yet. It will take me a while to get there, if I ever do. But, I am happy to know that the opportunity is there if and when I am ready.

So, thanks to Teresa for introducing us to this church. There is really no way to thank someone for bringing faith back into your life, but I want you to know that we truly do appreciate it.

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Jack o’ Lanterns

Originally uploaded by Teo

I took the kids out to a farm yesterday with The Girl’s friend’s family. It was so strange for me. Being from Michigan, going hunting for the perfect pumpkin always involved at least a jacket, but more often than not, we wore hats, gloves, winter coats, and boots. Yesterday, we wore shorts and t-shirts, and were still sweating. It had to have been 100 degrees out. And there were probably 1,000 people there! It was just craziness.

That being said, we had a good time. We had some caramel apples, pet some farm animals, and the kids played on a mountain of hay bales. The Boy felt a unique bond with a llama because of the spelling of its name (for those of you who do not know us, The Boy’s first name begins with 2 L’s. That’s right, 2 of ’em. LIke a llama). We only bought some tiny pumpkins because we aren’t carving one this year, because we see no point in doing so while living in an apartment…we don’t anticipate any trick-or-treaters, and we won’t be home anyway.

After we left, I took my 2 kids and The Girl’s friend out for some frozen yogurt (shh, they think it was ice cream!) to cool off. The girls bamboozled me into buying a bigger size than they would normally have, so no one ate dinner. It’s all good though. Sometimes it’s nice to have “ice cream” for a meal. 🙂

The best part of the day, though, was bedtime. The kids were all clean from their bath, snuggled in their beds, and were sound asleep in minutes. That’s when you know you’ve had a good day!

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Photo by sm4rtus

Talk may be action, but it’s cheap action. I talk a lot about how important life is: the life we lead, the life of others, the life of animals… and so on.

But, do my kids listen? Do they beleive me about how important all life is?

First of all, since moving to California the idea of conservation has steamrolled for us. It’s huge. While it was always important and we recycled (or tried) and tried to conserve water, our kids never reflected that. Until now. If I leave the water running while washing dishes, or brushing my teeth or filling the tub my kids, expecially the boy (three and a half) will tell me, “Dad! You’re wasting water!” I am rather proud of this. They actually ‘get it’. They may not fully understand the importance of conservation, but they get it.

My daughter (six) while at the beach in Venice was VERY concerned with all the trash she saw. Even prompting me to help her clean the beach. I explained that if we stopped and cleaned the beach, we wouldn’t be able to play, and we’d have to live there for weeks to clean it all. This only made her very sad. She explained that it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t nice for people to throw trash there. It was gross for others and it was dangerous to the animals. She also pointed out that it was dumb, since there were MANY trash ans all over the beach. I agreed and nodded at nearby beach goers who could hear her. I was so proud.

One last thing I would like to mention. One evening while on our family walk, we were looking at snails and other little creatures as we always do. My son, poor thing, didn’t see a tiny snail in front of him. But, there were so many snails he wanted to count and see the bigger ones ahead. With a step, a crunch sound was heard. He looked up at me, and it was clear he knew what had happened. He quickly moved his foot to see the snail underneath. Immediately he and the girl burst into tears. I mean, loud, screaming, crying tears. I asked to be sure, and they both said they were sad that it had died. We explained that it happens, it was an accident and the snail most likely didn’t feel any pain. They still cried but began to calm down. Eventually they stopped crying and enjoyed the walk and more snails and creatures. They both were much moer careful in their walking. Again, I was very proud. I think we must be doing something right for them to hold all life, and our surroundings with such high regard. I am so proud of my kids for having such a love for our world. And, I can’t help but feel proud of my wife and myself for helping teach them this important view.

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photo by fringehog

Brian took The Girl to the orthopedic doctor this morning. She’s fine. Her elbow is not fractured. Whew! We just have to do some exercises with her to help her strengthen it. And the really good news is that it’s still impossible for her to lick her own elbow.

On a different note, I’ve been thinking lately about the health of my kids, and myself. I realized that we eat a lot of crap. I mean, The Girl eats bologna for lunch almost every day! I give them fruit snacks, hot dogs, mac-n-cheese out of the box, anything quick and easy. Is that so bad? I get to thinking about this stuff every now and then, and I start feeling guilty. I mean, on that show Jon and Kate Plus 8, they eat all organic foods! And they have 8 kids! And I wonder why I don’t do that. And then I remember…it’s because I hate to cook. And, I grew up on koolaid, pepsi, and fluffernutter sandwiches, and I turned out ok. My kids are healthy, they usually will choose grapes over junk food, neither of them like pop (that’s Michigan for soda), and they have never been big candy eaters . In fact, I just threw out a bunch of Easter candy that we all forgot about! So, do I wish we ate healthier? Of course I do. Am I going to feel guilty for giving my kids mac-n-cheese? Nope.

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Well, Brian took The Girl back to the doctor today to see why her elbow is still bothering her.  This doctor (our regular doctor) seems to think that it might have been fractured!  So, tomorrow Brian has to take her to an orthopedic speciallist.  Awesome.  I’m so ticked off about it right now…I mean, how could the first doctor not have known that it was fractured???  Now this poor little 6 year old has to be banned from recess for the next 2 or 3 weeks, and I am so worried that her elbow will now be messed up for life.  I feel so bad!

Other than that, it’s been a long boring day.  I had a training at work today, and I have to sit through the other half tomorrow.  The highlight of my day was that I got free breakfast and free lunch.  🙂  My motto, when it comes to work related meetings is:  “If you feed them, they will come.”  Works every time!  🙂

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Photo by SoundsGood

That’s right, 34 days until one of my favorite holidays! I absolutely love Halloween. And I am so looking forward to it this year. In Michigan, we had to be prepared for any kind of weather to include (just in the past 6 years) 75 degrees and dry, rain, snow, hail, or wind so cold your tongue will stick to your lollipop! Here in Southern California, I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m pretty certain that snow, hail, and below 30 degree temperatures are out of the equation!

Growing up, my parents did haunted houses as a fund raiser for my school. My dad played Dracula, and my mom, by default, was Dracula’s wife. Dad would lie in a real coffin, and Mom would stare down the scared little teenagers. When they would come close to the casket, Dad would jump up and scare the dickens out of ’em! I remember hearing the grown-ups talking after closing time…they would always compare how many “wet spots” they had at each section of the maze. My mom got punched so often that she would have bruises, and they did actually have people pee their pants when Dad would scare them. My parents were so into it, they even had our dentist make them realistic fangs that were made out of denture material, and they snapped on over their real teeth!

So, while I really miss the haunted houses, when I tried to volunteer in the past, I realized that you had to be there on halloween, and that would interfere with trick-or-treating. I absolutely love taking the kids trick-or-treating, or as my Grandma says, “begging”, and I’ve only missed out one year since The Girl was born, and that was because I was pregnant with The Boy. Maybe when they get older, we can all volunteer at haunted houses together.

In order to try to keep my excitement level down, the kids and I decorated the house today. Unfortunately, it seems quite a few of my decorations got lost in the move, which makes me pretty sad. I hope that’s not the case with my Christmas decorations, because that would be cause for a complete temper tantrum. Speaking of Christmas…only 88 more days till that holiday! I better start shopping………

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First up, we have the most beautiful kids EVER!

Then there is the kids and Daddy testing out the ocean, with the lovely pier in the background.

The last pic is of The Boy.  Trying to hide from the ocean.   Because it’s so scary.  Agreed, Son.  Agreed.

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Photo by LA Duck

The Moms went back to Michigan today. It was great having them, but I’m exhausted. And my house is a mess. I’m actually excited to clean…and you know that’s bad! So, what did we do this weekend? Let’s see…

On Friday, Brian’s mom and I went to the mall for a bit. Then we picked up The Girl from school, and then Brian and I went down to Irvine. We had dinner at a nice restaurant and then went to see Counting Crows and Maroon 5 in concert. I can die happy now, having seen Maroon 5 live. (Hey, Adam….. 😉 ) Honestly, though, it was a great concert, but the best part was being able to go out with Brian without having to worry about the babysitter. And having the opportunity to critique not only Adam Levine’s outfit and tattoos, but also the outfits of those around us. Then there was the guy next to us who kept getting beer spilled on him…but that’s another story.

Saturday, we took The Moms to Beverly Hills. That was a good time, though we didn’t see any famous people…The Girl was pretty upset with that, so I told her that the guy we saw in the Bentley was probably famous. That seemed to work. On Sunday, we went to Santa Monica. It was very cold and windy, and The Boy was pretty crabby, but it was still a good day. Then yesterday, we all just recouped from the weekend, and I took my mom to lunch.

My favorite line of the weekend was said by The Boy, as we walked back to the car from the beach. For those of you who do not know me, I have very curly hair, and it tends to get out of control. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “How’s my hair look?”

The Boy: “No. (long pause) Not good.”

Gotta love the honesty!

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Photo by Jenny Romney

The best part about moving to a new state is that you get to live like a “resident tourist” for a while. And if you move to a tourism mecca such as Southern California, you get to live like that for a long time.

We decided over the weekend that The Moms needed to see Hollywood. So, the kids, The Moms, and I drove down to Hollywood and planned to meet Brian down there (he was working). Well, the place where we were planned to meet was closed off, there was a concert going on in one of the main courtyards, and they were filming for what later turned out to be the VMA awards. It was very, very loud and busy.

We finally met up with Brian, took a quick walking tour of the Walk of Fame, and then decided to go to the Griffith Park Observatory. On the way through the park to the observatory, we almost ran over a full grown coyote! In broad daylight! Creepy…..I looked for a roadrunner, but didn’t see one anywhere…. Anyway, if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting this place! First off, it’s free. Second, it’s at the very top of a hill, and the views are spectacular! We were there for about an hour, and only saw about half of it. Then The Boy started getting cranky, so we left.

We still have a lot of sites that we want The Moms to see before they leave, but we all needed a break after that! This weekend, we are planning on going to at least one beach (what would a trip to California be without seeing the ocean?) and to Beverly Hills (this is more for me than for The Moms, I think!). Hopefully I’ll have some time to figure out how to get the pictures off of my new camera. If so, I’ll be sure to post some here.

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