Discovery Cube LA


My parents were going to take the kids to Knotts Berry Farm for one of their christmas presents. As luck would have it, it was pouring down rain on the days we could go. So we decided to do something indoors instead. The kids had so much fun at the discovery cube last year and always ask to go back when we are in LA. So, I told my parents they would love it. As a HUGE bonus, all the schools were back from christmas break in LA, so we literally had the place to ourselves. 

Last year when we were there, they had a lego exhibit going on. This time it was doc mcstuffin. It did not disappoint. It was set up like a hospital and their attention to detail was amazing. Not to mention it was well manned and people made sure there were dolls on all the beds, babies in all the basinets and all the tools were replaced constantly. Isla had so much fun following the directions and treating the patients. Callum had fun playing with the balls that were in the veterinarian section. 

Like a cool person, I kept playing this trash sorting game they had and winning. Callum was enthralled with the helicopter tour, in fact probably the most still I have ever seen him awake. And Connor loved the house you go through and the LA Kings interactive exhibit. 









I wish there was cool stuff like this for kids nearer to where we live. We have to drive like an hour and a half in any direction to get to something of such. Sigh. 


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A bathroom reno



If you had asked me, this glass block goodness that is our master bathroom would have been the last bathroom in our house we touched. Why? Well, it was fully functional and in the master bedroom, so really didn't affect anyone except Ian and I. Never mind the fact that apparently slate is the WORST thing in the world to clean. I scrubbed and scrubbed, tried various products and nothing would clean it. Come to find out, that's how slate is. But no one except Ian or I saw it, so it wasn't the end of the world. Enter November.

I was cleaning the kids playroom one day in November when I noticed a leak. Whomp, whomp, whomp. We called a plumber. He wanted to rip into all the walls to find out the problem. Awesome. But it was a Friday afternoon and he didn't have time. The next week another plumber from the same company came out. This guy was awesome. In fact, he was the same guy that came out to our last house when our lawn was covered in poo. So basically, he's seen me through some dark times, haha! Anyway, he didn't want to rip into walls, but instead take time to measure, look in crawl spaces, etc to figure out the problem. And the problem ended up being that glass block goodness of a shower.

Now here's the thing, the shower could be fixed without redoing the whole bathroom. BUT, they were going to have to tear out the entire glass block wall, the floor of the shower and three feet up the shower wall. A new shower was no brainer. And, well, the floor of the bathroom should match the shower. And now that we are at it, the existing vanity wouldn't match the tile we picked out. And it just keeps going and going and going.

Picking out tile has been, well, a process. I never knew I had expensive taste until every sample I touched at the tile store was like five times the price of our budget. Then there's trying to find tiles that go together. One's that aren't to matchy matchy, but complement each other well. Let's not forget people's opinions. Those were enough for me to cover my ears and hum. So.much.advice. In the end, we went with what we liked. White subway tile with dark grout for the walls and large almost black hexagon tiles with dark grot for the floor. We still have to figure out some of the other details, but at least the big choices have been made.

So today I sit here, listening to them rip out my entire bathroom, down to the studs. There may even be a possibility of expanding the bathroom, but we are playing that one by ear...though it would be awesome if it works out.

In the mean time, I am over here feeling nervous that I fully like the choices we are making, because a whole new bathroom is quite pricy and I am stuck with it either way! Given we live in a 1939 tutor style house, I wanted something that went with the style of the house, was bright and clean (our last bathroom was a bit of a cave) and something that wouldn't be out of style next week. So here's some of my inspiration for our bathroom.


One thing I know for sure is my bathroom has to be functional. I saw so many amazing bathrooms on pinterest with zero storage, or cute sinks that are totally not practical for everyday. And since our bathroom is small, it has to pack a punch. We have to have enough storage for our everyday essentials, not to mention room to move. With five of us currently sharing one bathroom, I now know the importance of space and storage first hand!


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new year, new word


I honestly had no intentions in doing any sort of resolution this year. I've never really bought in to the whole new year, new you thing. I'm too much of a realist for that. I don't make lofty goals I can't achieve. That's also probably why I do like a word for the year. It's simple and attainable. It's more of a focus and less a strict set of goals that must be met. But I decided this wasn't the year for it. I'm not saying I don't have anything I should be working on, or growing toward, I just wasn't feeling the need or want for a direction (if one can even call picking a word for the year direction) for 2018.

But the last several days, actually even weeks, something kept popping in my mine. Two words actually - choose joy. As I've been mulling over these words, I keep being drawn back to how much of life is about choices. Choices in how we spend our money and time. Choices in if we want to see the glass as half empty or full. Choices if we want to eat healthy or indulge. So many choices.

It's easy to believe that life is out of our control, but that is simply not true. Sure, there are things out of our control. We can't control other people's actions. We can't control if our car breaks down or if our shower starts leaking. But we can choose how we respond. We can choose our attitude in spite of these things.

In all the choices that come my way this year, I want to choose what's right for that moment and choose well. I want to choose more time with my family and reconnecting with friends. I want to choose slow over fast and open time over full schedules. I want to choose to eat healthy most of the time, but to indulge without guilt. I want to choose joy even in the hard circumstances. But I also want to choose to be vulnerable and cry.

So there you have it, my word, my focus for the year.

choice. 

I want to spend time this year actually thinking about the choices I make, to think if they are the best choices or not and why. And to make the best choices more often than not.


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A Family Wedding


Ian's sister got married this past weekend in Tucson. It's a mere 800 miles from us. Given that flights are expensive times five, we decided to drive. That long for a quick trip is no easy feat. There was an almost throw up in the car. Several I have to pee NOW's. And more how much longer's than I can count. But we made it. And, as a bonus, we ended up leaving Callum in Los Angeles with my parents on the way down. It sure made the wedding much more enjoyable not having to fight a toddler to sit still. 

Isla brought her fuji instant camera with her and enjoyed playing photographer at the wedding. She made everyone smile when she stopped the actual professional photos to take a picture of her aunt and new uncle. It was a really cute moment. Both Connor and Isla had a blast dancing. Isla was literally on the dance floor the whole time dancing was going on. Connor made friends with some other boys at the wedding, so had fun with them. Even with all the dancing and leaving the wedding at 10pm, neither kid fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. I guess we are well past that phase with them. 


^^ Connor and Isla with their cousin Hadleigh


^^ The wedding was at the sonoran desert museum, which is the cluster of buildings you see in the middle of this picture. 



^^ Look at my sister in law, all happy and in love! Hard to believe I've been with Ian since she was 12.


On a random note, I took their engagement pictures when we visited my sister in law back in June. At the wedding reception, the photographer came up to our table and asked who took the engagement photos. When I said I did, she told me how they are actually legit photos and that I did a great job. She said she often sees cringe worthy photos taken by friends or family of people, but that mine were really good. Obviously she doesn't know the extensive work I do on the daily as a momographer! And since I talked about them, here are a couple of their engagement photos. 





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5th Annual Christmas Card Challenge Winners


You guys, this year was off the hook with Christmas cards! Not to mention, we even got a New Year's card, which I thought was pretty dang fun. A bunch of people sent cards just for the challenge, and I thought that was super duper fun. So, thank you to each and every person that participated. Each and every card we got put a smile on my face. I love seeing families and children growing. I love hearing from friends far away. I love seeing seasoned couples, now empty nesters, with lovey dovey pictures on their cards. I love the handmade. I love the foil overlays. I love the scalloped edges. I just love everything about Christmas cards. We got so many cards, our card holder couldn't handle them all. Now that's a good problem to have! I won't stretch this on though, let's get to the winners! 


First to arrive:


In years past, I've gotten cards before Thanksgiving. I think with Thanksgiving being so early in November this year, it threw everyone off. Christmas card season got off to a late start, but I am thankful to the Powell's for kicking it off. 


Best handwritten note:


Not only was there a handwritten note, there was a beautiful handmade card! Trina always makes everything she touches beautiful and this card was definitely no exception. 


Best photo: 


Funny photos always seem to win around here. This year I couldn't choose just one winner, so I chose two! Let's start with the adorable family on the left. That top right photo did it for me. I got such a kick out of it...maybe it's because she's the same age as Callum, so I GET IT!!! Making it even better, that adorable little girl not wanting to cooperate with pictures is named Holiday. Oh the irony! Then we have the adorable and fun loving family on the right. I would totally steal this photo idea if I wasn't convinced Connor and Isla would probably just throw Callum! 


Best update:


You guys, this beautiful lady was my roommate in college. She is one fun loving and awesome lady. And her update had me laughing and crying. There were stamped body party that I had to guess what they were and who they belonged to (hahaha!) and a very honest and open update that anyone that has endured the beginning of motherhood would understand. 


Best overall:


I'm not going to lie, this is always my favorite category to pick. I lay out all my favorite cards and decide from those. And there are always different reasons for my favorite. It may be a quality card, a unique card, beautiful photos. Just something that makes it stand out. Not only is this family beautiful, but the simplicity and gold foil stamp were beautiful. Not to mention, their envelope was brown and not white, which made it really stand out.


Now for the moment everyone (or maybe just a few people) have been waiting for, the winner of the coffee. Drum roll please...


The very deserving Trina Duncan!!! Let's not forget Kevin, I'm sure he'll enjoy the coffee too. Thanks to everyone who humored me and participated. Until next year folks.


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Three Kids



Three kids bring so much joy, chaos and love into your life. They also bring endless dishes, more fights in the car than I care to admit and a dirty house I never thought possible. Let's not even talk about the car that looks like it should be cleaned out wearing a hazmat suit!

Three kids simultaneously bring together and pulls apart the two parents responsible for them. It brings you together with knowing looks when a kid does something at bedtime...because bedtime with three kids is a lot of work and best to be tackled as a team. It pulls you apart when at least one always ends up in your bed. Then there's the playing you against each other. Who knew it started at such a young age?!

When you have three kids, people stop inviting you places. Three kids is just a lot and seems to be the tipping point. No longer are you invited over for dinner or invited to large gatherings...because everyone is afraid you will show up with your three loud, unpredictable kids. Which is ironic because that is probably the last thing you want to do! People also stop offering to watch your three kids. Because, well, three kids is a lot of chaos and noise. Did I mention the fighting? That is like 93% of the chaos and noise. 

Three kids is also when you have to start lying when you book a hotel room, because most occupancy rates are for four people. It's also when you have to pay out the wazoo for a rental car because good luck getting three car/booster seats across, not to mention trying to fit all that luggage in the trunk of a car!

But here's the thing, even with all the public humiliation (hello tantrums, I'm talking about you!), the lack of help, and the lack of sleep, I wouldn't change a thing. I.wouldn't.change.a.thing. All those kisses and hugs. All the bedtime snuggles. All the cheesy kid jokes. All the times they are actually playing well together make it worth it. Not to mention, I already loathe the day when I have a silent home from everyone being gone. But it won't be silent for long. Because even if my kids choose to have ten kids each, I will be there to help. I will be there to play. I will be there to love.

In the mean time, I hope my three kids remember their childhoods as ones full of laughter, love, hugs and mom reading to them. And maybe, just maybe, also one that taught them some life skills, like how to get along with others in close quarters, how to scrub a toilet, how to do the laundry and how to choose joy.


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A San Francisco Getaway


Ian and I managed to run away for a night this past week. With three kids, that is no small feat. It seriously sometimes feels like moving mountains to arrange leaving three kids for just one stinking night. But it happened and it was totally worth it. We ate our weight in dinner and still managed to stuff in a dessert meant for four. We shopped. I offered to take a tourist's photo, to which Ian told her I was going to steal her phone. We walked up and down huge hills. We stayed at a nice hotel, our 1992 volvo parked with cars that cost the same as houses in Modesto. We took coffee breaks, several in fact. We ate brunch at the tiniest most cramped restaurant ever, but it didn't matter because we didn't have three squirmy kids with us. We explored new places in the city we had never been to. We met the cutest old man coffee roaster. We talked to each other without being interrupted. It was a rather magical 30 hours. 










No matter how many times we go to San Francisco, it never gets old. There is always a new place to explore. Always new places to eat at. Always things to look at, things to do. It's a pretty magical city.


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