Monday, July 29, 2013

A weekend full of grandparents and trains

Aside from a visit from a dear cousin, this weekend was pretty quiet and boring. But my parents were in town last weekend for a visit that happened to include a lot of trains.

On Saturday, we hung out at my parents' hotel for a low-key day of pool fun. Alice had a great time floating around in her grandma's purple pool floatie and playing with Grandpa. Ivy turned into quite a little water bug and kicked and splashed all around.
I wish you could have seen the kicking and "swimming."
On Sunday, we finally made it out to Golden Road Brewing for lunch.
We ate out on the astroturf lawn where Alice enjoyed playing fusball with another little guy her size, as well as a game of Alice-sized Connect Four. Next time, I want to play the life-size game of Jenga!

We liked the laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere, and the good beer! The brewery and pub occupy a chain of repurposed warehouses next to the train tracks and we realized the patio is right in the loading bay. I don't know that I've ever eaten in a loading dock before, and it actually happened to us again somewhere else, later that week. The train even barreled through a few times, startling Ivy pretty good once.

After lunch, we headed to the LA Live Steamers Railroad Museum.

Ivy and I hung back while Grandma, Grandpa, Jon and Alice took a ride on the tiny, narrow gauge train that runs around the grounds on a 1/8th scale track. I heard it was a really fun trip all over the park.

After their train pulled back into the station, we all went over to see Walt Disney's barn.
Walt's Barn
Originally built at his Holmby Hills home, the barn was where Walt worked on his own narrow gauge train that ran around his Beverly Hills property. It was where he did lots of his "imagineering," and was some of the inspiration for Disneyland. It was great fun to see such a well-preserved part of his personal life, and so many mementos from that era of his dreaming and doing.

After we were all worn out there, we headed home to regroup. Earlier that morning, Alice had met her goal and filled up half her sticker chart of chores.

She'd been super motivated because the prize was a train set, suggested after we noticed her affinity for all the train sets she's come across at stores and friends' houses. So we left Grandma at home with Ivy, and Grandpa, Jon, Alice and I walked down to the neighborhood train store to pick out her very first train set.

 The store has a great kids area, including three little tables totally decked out with tracks and cars and goodies. Alice had a grand time playing there and would have stayed as long as we let her. We let her play for a good, long time and Jon snuck an engineers cap on her head while I snuck photos. Adorable.

 And then we strolled home with her very first train set...
... Where Alice promptly got to work laying track. She loves putting the pieces together and making new configurations. 

She can pick out new parts and tracks and accessories every time she fills up her sticker chart halfway. She loves reading through the little catalog pamphlet that came in the box to think about what she'd like next. We hope she can build up her set and enjoy playing with it for many years!

We hadn't intended to have such a train filled weekend, but it was sure fun! What about you? See any good trains lately?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday Daycation Adventure: The Beach!

Jon and I decided that we're going to start having "daycation" adventures on Sundays after church. This Sunday, we were uncharacteristically spontaneous and waited until we woke up that morning to settle on the beach. And so it was.

We've literally never been to the beach in LA, for proper beach sun and fun - we've been beach-adjacent for various things, but never to actually sit in the sand and splash in the sea. In fact, Alice has only been to the beach a few times (once??) and Ivy has never been (which I only just now realized). As a former pool-rat, with no access to a beach, and then a college beach-bum (well, as often as work/studies/film shoots allowed), this makes me really sad.

None of the beaches in LA are quick or easy to get to, but Ventura is a pretty low-key option. After a quick online scope, we set our sights on the Harbor Cove beach and hopped in the car. Unfortunately, traffic was fairly miserable and it took us about two hours to get there. Ugh. Both girls were short on naps and food and weren't super happy about being strapped in for so long. Alice was pretty done with the car trip and told us about thirty times that she wanted to go to the beach...

We finally got there and found a place to park in the Harbor Village parking lot. They were having some sort of "Pirate Days" festival, and Alice made sure to tell us she didn't want to pretend to be a pirate. So we left the pirates behind and trudged down the road to the protected cove beach. The waves were the perfect size for a such a little thing, and there was plenty of free sand to stretch out our blankets. I fed Ivy under our umbrella and watched Jon and Alice dig in the sand. Being so late in the day, it was a bit too chilly for Ivy take a dip, so she and I hung out on the blanket and then cozied up for a little cuddle under a towel. 
A rare action shot of the whole family.
love those long three-year-old legs.

 If you look closely in the photo below, you can see two tiny little teeth!!
Alice had a great time digging in the sand and building sand castles and birthday cakes for Marie. 
The pits left behind by their digging became "kitty pools."
And without warning, she suddenly dunked her whole ponytail. 

The waves would wash over her digging site and fill her "kitty pool" pits with water, and she would sit down and settle in like a hen in her nest.

It was the most comfortable she's been around ocean water.  
Meanwhile, back at the blanket....
 I love babies' expressions when they are concentrating.

Such a tired little bug, enjoying the sun and the salty sea breeze.
 I just liked this little vignette.
After we were done playing, and it got too chilly to hang around any more, we headed off to find some dinner. Jon was hoping for a dimly lit, hole-in-the wall joint where he could get some tacos, so after a little research on the phone, he headed off to a promising spot. 

We drove in front of the restaurant and noticed that they were expanding into the property next door. As we rounded the corner and pulled into the parking lot, I realized that property and it's parking lot belonged to the dealer where we'd bought our car. Jon didn't believe me at first, but after a quick second look, there was no mistaking it. Jon knew the dealer had moved but he hadn't recognized the address of the restaurant when he was looking at the map. Lo and behold, we got out of our car and gazed upon the spot where we'd taken our photo in front of our new car and left Jon's trusty Pearl parked on the street (where that silver truck is parked in this shot). Go figure.
How weird would it have been if Pearl was still parked there...
Pearl, as we last saw her.
taken facing the opposite direction, Jon's old car is just out of frame on the right.

Traffic aside, we had a lovely afternoon at the beach and I'm sure we'll go back some day. But next Sunday, a new daycation adventure!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


We're celebrating some milestones around here!
like, whoa, dude.
Ivy is 6 months old, and she cut her first tooth! Just Sunday, I was having a video chat with one of my best friends and her adorable son and she asked how many teeth Ivy had now. Ivy's been chomping and drooling since she was two months old, but we hadn't seen any teeth yet. I told my friend as much and reached in for a quick check and totally felt a little sharp tooth! No wonder she's been having such a hard time going to sleep the past few days! Perfect timing, as she's also eagerly enjoying her first tastes of solid food. I'll write more about that later, but she is totally into it...

And Alice had her first day of nursery school summer school yesterday. She's doing a week of summer school before her regular two-day program starts in the fall. I'm so excited for her, and I can't wait to hear all about it. She's so ready for this; ready to play with other kids her age, ready to learn from and with them. I know she's going to love everything she gets to do and play with, but I'm so excited to watch her learn and grow.
We went to a family party over the long weekend and one of her grandma's cousins gave her a fun new backpack full of Disney story books. We've been reading the books non-stop since then and she's been soaking up every word like a sponge. Then we can overhear her reading them back with surprising accuracy to a rapt audience of Ivy and stuffed animals. Ivy LOVES listening to stories, especially when her sister is reading them. It's so sweet, I can hardly stand it.

Anyway, she insisted on taking her new backpack to school and loaded it with a change of clothes and washcloth (in case she cries - girl needs some monogrammed handkerchiefs...). 
Not entirely sure what she's doing in this photo, but so cute!
We went in and watched as she found a seat in the circle, and she hardly glanced at us as we said goodbye and headed out the door. She's had an easy transition between Sunday school in the same building, to a week of Vacation Bible School there, and now a week of summer school. I hope she can wait until September for school to start for real, and isn't too disappointed that it's only two days a week!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Weekend with Grandma

My mom came to visit and she and the girls had a great time playing and snuggling all weekend. On Saturday, we headed to her hotel and spent the morning splashing around the pool there.
lounging at the pool.
Ivy loved my new floppy hat.
two little water babies.
Alice spent lots of time making art with Grandma. I just love how she looks like such a little person in these photos. And, you know, all the time now.
Ivy got over her stranger anxiety and gave Grandma lots of cuddles. She was her usual, easy-going, charming and adorable self. 
and then we got photobombed by Alice's eyeball.

Grandma left a little before Alice's dinner and while she was eating, Alice said "I love Grandma the BEST!" By bedtime, she was already asking what we were going to do with Grandma in the morning. So hopefully we'll see Grandma again soon!