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Category Archives: Holiday




Most of the family together in one photo (missing everyone on the east coast, Uncle Carl and Andy)! Celebrating my Mom’s 52nd birthday.


One of my favorite photos from our frequent trips to the zoo.

Look who finally likes taking a bath in the tub! No more bath time in the kitchen sink.

Look who finally likes the tub! No more bath time in the kitchen sink.



Hiking Cuyamaca with our friends. Just a few crazy moms trying to push strollers uphill in the snow. We ditched the strollers and carried them for a while, before deciding on a picnic on the side of the path. Want to try this again…in the spring.


My very serious Valentine did a charity photo shoot.


Riding on the duffy in Newport Beach with Mike and Leilani.


Photographer in the making. Me learning Instagram and the magic of filters.



Decorating kites with friends for the festival in OB.


Playdate with one of her besties, Cyler.


Pure, heart bursting, life affirming, love.


The easiest lemon blueberry cream pie ever. Seriously, one of my favorite recipes from the whole year.


Discovering lip gloss.

Finishing my first 5k.

Finishing my first 5k.



Easter egg hunt with cousin Faith at Gramma’s house in Newport.


First pigtails!


Aunt Cathy passed down a family recipe book.


My kid loves asparagus?! Awesome!


Decorating the cake she helped make for her Dad’s birthday.



Leia autographed my copy of 50 Shades of Grey. I hope she finds this funny someday, I sure do.


I have never lacked a warm lap, we’re big on cuddles in this house. Daphne still naps with Leia almost everyday (mostly on the bed….).


M.I.L.F.’s (Moms In Lots of Foam), Foam Fest 5k with the ladies.


Feeding the ducks at Lake Murray with Grammy.



Face cream, my first attempt at homemade beauty products on a chemical detox kick.


Flipped that car seat! At 23 months my toddler started forward facing.


June 15th, Leia’s sister Dresden was born.


Grilled corn at the Del Mar Fair.


Playing with cousin Johnny at Grammy’s house.



Cousin Sarah visits from the east coast. Had such a good time while she was here, especially watching her get an amazing tattoo!


4th of July party with the Souzas.


My hopes for my daughter.


Helping make rainbow cupcakes for her birthday party.


My heart.



Best post-nap hair picture, ever.


The kitchen is my favorite place for making memories.


She’s sort of amazing with chopsticks! Enjoying our favorite lettuce wraps at PF Changs.


Where’s Leia?! Oh, she’s holding my birthday flowers, thanks Aunt Jamie! I turned 31 on the 31st, hello golden year!



Leia was a race car driver…and chased Grammy off the road.


It’s important to me that I raise Leia around animals, to teach her compassion and kindness to those who depend on us.


Few things are better than Paula Dean’s red velvet recipe – a special request from Rachel for our joint birthday celebration at Wine Steals.


Look who stopped biting her nails!


Pumpkin patch in Irvine on the first day of Fall.


Meeting my brother’s girlfriend and her daughter in Arizona. Visited Andy for his birthday, but forgot Leia’s birth certificate, so she missed him.



Leia discovers how to take pictures with the iPhone…and never stops.


Carving pumpkins at Grammy and Uncle Randy’s house.


Most of the Star Wars crew! We had 13 toddlers total (I think?) for trick or treating craziness this year.

Moms night out! Dinner and drinks (do you see that big white punch bowl?!) at Craft & Commerce.

Moms night out! Dinner and drinks (do you see that big white punch bowl?!) at Craft & Commerce.



Color Run 5k with Becca. We got covered in colored dust, it was a blast!


Honey Beer Bread. So amazing it’s making this list. It’s only 5 ingredients too!


Chargers game with Rachel and Pina! Thank goodness we won, Chargers had a terrible season. No Norv or AJ for 2013, yay!


Bonfire and s’mores at Mission Bay with our friends.


A sleepy hug on Thanksgiving. What a blessing.



Wiggin’ out for Crystal’s bachelorette party!


“Merry Christmas, best friend.” Leia learned that from a cartoon and says it often, turns me to mush.


Annual Girls Christmas Party!


Hating Santa for the third year in a row. Priceless.


Straight out of a celebrity tabloid, these are some adorable kids.

Our beautiful Christmas card! Thank you Brooke for your amazing design skills!


What I’m Thankful For

I know, Thanksgiving was last week. Sometimes the days just slip by too fast.
This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in San Diego on Tuesday. I cooked the entire meal in my Grandma’s kitchen, it was bliss. I had a few moments where I felt her watching – like when I cut my finger and walked around for 30 minutes with a paper towel wrapped around it because I was too distracted to get a bandaid.

I made most of the meal from scratch – cranberry sauce, green bean and artichoke casserole, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with parsnips. Some of it was from a can – plain ol’ corn and crescent rolls. The turkey cooked to juicy perfection in the new electric roaster. I also made a pumpkin cake for dessert, that was both loved and hated. I stuffed myself silly and basked in the love that is family, it was a wonderful day.

Then were got to celebrate again in Orange County on Thursday. Leia helped in the kitchen. I made rum balls. Leilani made not one but two fantastic turkeys. A bunch of friends and family came with a ton of side dishes and desserts. So I stuffed myself again, and felt thankful for all the wonderful people Leia gets to call family.

I am thankful…

For my beautiful, silly, smart, creative, entertaining two year old. You love painting your nails, playing hide and seek, giving big hugs, putting bandaids on stuffed animals and kissing them better, pretending we are characters from your favorite cartoons, singing with your eyes closed, and dancing with your whole heart. Leia Olivia you are my biggest joy this year and every year.

I am healthy and strong. I don’t get sick often, and neither does Leia. I have money to buy good food that nourishes our bodies. I have the opportunity (thanks Mom) to spend time at the gym for my physical and mental well-being. I plan on using this body for a very long time so I need to take care of it.

My family is close, literally and figuratively. My brother can call me regularly, and I got to visit him this year.

For the two cats that take up a ton of room on the bed, on my lap, cry for treats and at the door to get out. My fuzzy little kids, life would not be the same without you.

The friendships I rely on to navigate my parenting journey. The friendships that grow closer over the years from shared experiences. The friendships I know will always be there regardless of distance or time spent apart.

For our military, past and present. For their families that share the burden of their service so we can enjoy our everyday lives.

There are so many people to share memories of my Dad and Grandparents with. It keeps their spirit alive when I miss them terribly.

Happy Thanksgiving

Candy, Football, 5k

This year we celebrated Halloween with our mom group. Chelle’s family turned their house into party central with delicious food and festive decorations. We even managed to get (almost) all the kids posed for a picture! Getting a big group of us together always reminds me how meaningful these friendships are, for Leia and myself. The neighborhood was perfect for trick or treating. Compared to last year, Leia realized knocking on a door and saying “trick or treat” resulted in candy. She practiced saying “trick or treat” and “happy halloween” all day. My normally shy kid was bursting with excitement all night, pointing out spooky ghosts and witches, running alongside her friends, shouting “yay! more houses!” I loved watching her experience trick or treating the way I did as a child – in a neighborhood asking strangers for candy on their doorsteps.

Painting pumpkins on our patio

Carving pumpkins with Grammy and Uncle Randy

The force is strong with these ones…



The day after Halloween, my Mom watched Leia so I could go to a Chargers game with Rachel and Pina. We only make it to one game a year because the tickets are so expensive, even for the “bird’s eye view” section, ha. Parking is $25. Beers are $9 ($11 if you want an import). Madness! So the girls met at my place and we filled up on pizza, cakepops, and a few drinks before walking to the game. The Chargers won, breaking a two game losing streak. It was a great girls night out. I lost my ID, which is a bummer. I’m not sure where it fell out of my pocket, but I’m hoping some good samaritan puts it in the mail.


This morning I ran the Color Run 5k with Becca. My Mom reminded me I could use my passport in lieu of my lost ID to pick up my registration packet, whew! She brought Leia and they watched from the sidelines. It was a huge event! It took us at least 30 minutes to get through the starting line. The crowd was fun and energetic, we got covered in colored dust. I kept my goal of “no walking” and ran the whole way, except a stop to get water. At the end of 3 miles, I’m definitely done, so I don’t see a longer run in my near future. But these fun runs are great! I’m hoping to sign up for the Electric Run next.

I’m shocked she didn’t freak out next to the big unicorn.

The War on Christmas

There isn’t one.

At least once a day I see someone’s status update on Facebook say something about how they’re annoyed that it’s not okay to say Merry Christmas anymore. Really?

Last time I checked Christmas is still everywhere. It’s the focal point holiday of the season. There is no shortage of Christmas anything – cards, decorations, trees, gifts! When has it ever been “not okay” to wish someone a Merry Christmas? Show me the person who responds to Merry Christmas with “Hey, actually I’m Agnostic/Jewish/(insert belief) and I’d prefer a Happy Holidays/Happy Hanukkah/(insert holiday) instead.” Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you’d probably smile, reciprocate a greeting and go about your day. I see far more people getting bent out of shape about being told Happy Holidays because their personal beliefs aren’t being catered to, whether they represent the majority or not. Now that doesn’t seem to be in the Christmas spirit.

Happy Holidays isn’t a watered down version of Merry Christmas, it’s not a replacement for Christmas, it encompasses Christmas – and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (I need to meet someone who actually celebrates this). Happy Holidays is a general statement of good wishes during this time of the year. If you celebrate Christmas – sing it from the rooftops to everyone you meet. If someone says Happy Holidays in return, try not to be a bitter old scrooge and appreciate that someone wishes you well in return.

“Don’t tell me what to celebrate, stop trying to censor Christmas!” Just because your bank hangs a sign up that says Happy Holidays, or your work throws a “Holiday” party instead of a “Christmas” party, no one is taking away your freedom to celebrate Christmas. If I go to Target and the sign above the seasonal aisle says Happy Holidays, does that really mean I’m being forced to celebrate or believe in something else? There’s a War on Christmas because corporations default to saying Happy Holidays to speak to a wider demographic? I don’t understand how a general greeting that embraces the variety of religious and non-religious celebrations this time of year spits in the face of a Christian holiday. Head to Hallmark and look at the cards, there’s no shortage of cards that say Merry Christmas, even if the section is called “Holiday Cards” – the two aren’t exclusive!

Ornaments, half are off the tree at any given time.

Before I step off my soapbox I want to add that I’m not a Christian, but I was raised Catholic and celebrated Christmas every year. I will raise Leia to celebrate Christmas. I’m sure her Grandmas will take her to church and read her stories about Jesus to teach her the history of Christmas. Meanwhile I will continue to observe the holiday in the more religion neutral, slightly commercialized sense. We’ll decorate a tree, bake the cookies, watch the movies, open a few presents. We’ll spend the weeks leading up to the 25th hanging lights, avoiding crowded malls, sitting by a fireplace, spending time with family and friends. I’ll teach her to give back to those who need more than us. Most importantly, we’ll soak up the general spirit of goodwill and cheer that makes this time of the year so special. We’ll make memories and traditions for her to look forward to. I’ll greet people with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and hope that they embrace as a warm gesture without picking apart the linguistics.

Merry Christmas!

December Nights Fiasco



Christmas on the Prado, as it used to be called, was one of my favorite things as a kid. San Diego’s kick off to the holidays. I loved drinking hot cocoa and walking around to look at all the lights, the big tree, the reindeer and a sleigh full of presents taking off by the organ pavilion. Like all kids, I was totally unaffected by the crowd around me. Where can we park? Do you see the kids? Can you maneuver the stroller? Not my problem, ask my Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad.

Now that I’m the Mom, it sucks. I’m not new to the party, I know the crowds are insane. They anticipate something like 300,000 people to attend and it only runs two nights. Last year I remember being slightly annoyed for having to drive for 20 minutes to find a spot, and push a young baby in a stroller around. I think I wore her most of the time, she slept, I ate a falafel sandwich, admired the lights, listened to some music and the night was good.

This year? Complete epic fail. I prepared myself, knowing 163 was going to be a mess I took the 15 to University and headed to Park Blvd from the East. Traffic was moving fine til I the light to turn onto Park. Not bad, figure we’ll (we = Myself, my Mom, and Leia) sit in some traffic driving down Park and pay for a spot in one of the preferred parking lots off site. I’m totally willing to throw down $10 or $20 for a spot.

It takes me 15 minutes to get from my house to University and Park. If I saw a spot on a side street I’d gladly grab it and walk the rest of the way. No such luck. It takes 30 minutes swamped in traffic to go maybe 1/2 mile to the zoo parking lot.  Leia is screaming her head off so I drop her and my Mom and the stroller off. My plan is to head down to the lots at City College or Petco and take the shuttle up. My gas gauge says empty, but that really means I’ve got another gallon or two so I ignore it. Paid lots just outside the park are all “full” – I say full in quotes because I saw random open spots, they just weren’t letting anyone in. Now had I been following @DecemberNights on my phone I would have known this ahead of time. I also would have avoided the next headache.

It takes me another 45 minutes to drive 1/2 mile down Park, turn on C, drive down to 16th, head up to the College lot….and it’s full. They are redirecting people back to Park to try Petco or the County building. My car is past empty. I get out of line and stop for gas at Shell and I get an idea! I’ll go park at Horton Plaza and take a taxi. Then at the end of the night I’ll taxi back to my car and bring it to pick up Grammy and Leia. Drive towards Horton Plaza, but it’s a mess. I guess I wasn’t the only one with that idea. I’ve now been driving for over 2 hours since leaving my house. Phone calls to my mom let me know it’s packed too tight for the stroller or to let Leia run around on her own (which is what she prefers). They sat and ate some sandwich from a vendor, and now she’s about to fall asleep in the stroller.

I give up and head north on Park to pick them up. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve over it. I know I wouldn’t want to battle the crowd after sitting in the car this long. I wonder if it would have been easier to take the trolley and walk a few miles, or park in Hillcrest and take a taxi (scratch that, I don’t want to taxi with Leia and the BOB). I think it would have been a nightmare either way, it was just way too crowded this year. I know this sounds lame, but I SWEAR it was not this bad last year. Where do these people come from?!

It takes me another 30 minutes to pick them up. Leia doesn’t even wake up when I take her out of the stroller and put her in the car seat. Looks like we’ll be enjoying the lights during the week when everyone else is at home. I’ll bring my own hot cocoa and Leia can run around like the wild child she is and we’ll both enjoy ourselves.

Here’s a picture of Leia’s visit to Santa this year – priceless! I love this little girl so much. Her expression pretty sums up how I feel about the whole fiasco tonight.

Yule Log

I love the Yule Log show, I play it at least 5 times a day. I miss having a fireplace (or not? cleaning + fire safety sounds tiring to be honest), but it’s still cozy at home tonight. My lights are up up, a pine scented Yankee candle is burning, I’m enjoying a cup of tea on the couch, listening to holiday music. Life is good 🙂

Cookies and presents

The holidays are coming! Actually, they’ve been here a while. But I can feel myself getting sucked in to the madness, so that’s how I know the season has truly arrived.

I tested a gingerbread recipe tonight for the Holiday Party/Cookie Swap with The Moms. They tasted fantastic, but lost their shape quite a bit after cooking. Maybe I’ll try less baking soda, or colder dough. I guess even if they look like fat gingerbread people it’s the taste that counts, and this recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen nailed it. Soft and chewy texture too, perfect. Where’s the picture you ask? I only baked 4 cookies, the rest of the dough is waiting in the freezer. “But certainly you didn’t eat all 4 cookies?” Yes, I did. In my defense I had a salad for dinner!

Found a cute homemade gift to give to friends and family this year, crossing that off the list feels good. I made my mom a photobook (I can write that here because it’s not likely my Mom will go online and read this before 2012). A few other people are getting gifts similar in sentimentality.

I’m buying Leia an easel from IKEA, a big box of crayons, maybe some paints. I’ll probably snag a recordable storybook from Hallmark too. I think that’s plenty.

Then I flip through the Toys R Us ad that came in the mail. I see the toy aisles out of the corner of my eye when we’re walking around Target. I feel this itch to buy her more. A kitchen set, a rocking horse, even noisy light up plastic toys seem less annoying during the holidays.

Usually the fiscally conservative Sarah screams in the background “don’t do it, just keep walking!” and I obey. I still think Leia is a little young to really get into the appreciation of more than a few gifts. I don’t have the money. If I did have the money I’d feel wasteful.

Now for me on the other hand…mama needs a new iPhone! That is my Christmas present to myself.