Category Archives: I Left Home for Awhile

Tustin Chili Cook Off

Over the weekend, we spontaneously decided to go to the Chili Cook Off.  I mean, we were right across the street having breakfast and one of our table mates mentioned it.  Tony and I looked at each other, shrugged and said, “You wanna go?”  The reply was, “Sure, why not?”  It’s something we’ve talked about attending the past few years but we never seem to be in town when it’s going on.

We meandered around at first, distracted by the old cars.  William kept saying “Hey, that’s Sheriff!  That’s Sheriff!”  (From the Cars movie?)  Yeah, except for the paint job, it IS Sheriff.

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And then there was the “car that looks like Flo!”  Yes, yes, it did.  Something tells me this kid likes cars.

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Then we got down to business and sampled several cups of chili that looked like this.

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We all really liked the one made by the police department.  It was spicy but went down smooth.  If they sold that stuff in jars, I would definitely buy some.

William has a thing about Weinerschnitzel… THANKS MOM!  He now requests to go get “ice cream” every time we drive by it, which is  a lot, since it’s on the way to the grocery store, Walmart, Target, the gas station, the gym, and uh, the freeway.  Meaning, it’s on the way to everywhere we go.  So it was a no-brainer that he asked to have his picture taken with their Wagon that was at the cook off.

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We were looking for somewhere to sit and there were some tables set up.  We meandered over and sat on the concrete wall around the sign, turns out the restaurant owner had set up the tables and were inviting people to sit there, whether they were patrons or not.  The owner was even sitting there and pointed at the sign above William, told us the pictures on there were of his parents.  Personally, I liked the way the guy organized his chili.  He said, with a wink, that he’s been doing this for a few years now.

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IMG_0989Overall, for a spontaneous outing, it was fun and I wouldn’t mind going again next year, but I’ll definitely be bringing my cupcake pans… that idea is ingenious!  Plus, you know, people watching… IMG_0982

 

 

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Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Great Orange Ball

Local to us is a park that has an orange balloon.  It’s been there for years on the old military base.  The balloon goes up and down 400 feet for certain hours of the day, weather permitting, giving lots of people a great view of the county.  Up until recently it was free, but we missed out on that by a couple of days.  We’ve been meaning to get over there and check it out for awhile now.  Like for years now.  Honestly, we’re pretty good about checking out the things in our own backyard, so to speak, but this place, as huge as it is, is kind of a pain to find if you’re just blindly exploring.

So there we were one day, William hadn’t been able to fall asleep for his nap, and we needed to go to Costco, so we called it a nap fail and set out.  He was fine, so we thought.  We went to Costco, he was as wide awake as he could be.  Might as well go see if we can find the place.  We’re driving along and I glanced at the clock, 4pm.  I glanced in the rearview mirror and William had nodded off to sleep.  Do I wake him or let him sleep, was the question. Knowing that from the point he wakes, he will not be able to sleep again for 5 hours, minimum.  We decided to let him sleep.

Photos from that outing:  LINK 

So we got to the park and scoped it out, and decided to schedule a day to go back when William would be awake.

This past Saturday was the day.  The place is enormous with lots of space to roam.  They have more than just the balloon, too.  There is a carousel, a garden area, a playground and the old hangars are used as exhibit areas, and the open outside space is used for a Farmer’s Market every Sunday.  I commented to Tony what a fun outing this was, it would be perfect for a simple and easy first date… and it’s also an easy outing for a family if you want to spend the day at a park without worrying about it being crowded.

Here are some photos from this weekend’s outing:  LINK

So that’s what we did this weekend.  What’d you do ?

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Filed under I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Queen Mary’s Chill

For the holidays, I like to do something special, something out of the ordinary, something that is IN YOUR FACE “Christmasy” every year.  One year we saw a handbell choir, gosh, that was so beautiful.  Unfortunately, it appears that we saw them the last year they were performing and handbell choirs, apparently, are as rare as a Hawaiian surfing in Alaska!  Our standby Christmas thing has always been the local historical city park.  They have two events every year — a candlelight tour one weekend and a Victorian Christmas celebration the next — but our calendars just didn’t match up with theirs this year.

I was blessed to be able to participate in my company’s holiday party this year.  The first year I worked here, they didn’t have a holiday event.  The 2nd year I was here, I was out on maternity leave.  This year, they rented a yacht and we floated out and toured the harbor while eating our lunch.  They even accommodated me with a special room on the yacht, with its own bathroom (you know how I love bathrooms!) to pump milk for my son so I could participate comfortably!

But I was still looking for something special to do with my family.  So when a special deal came across LivingSocial to go to the Queen Mary for the holidays, The Queen Mary Chill event, they called it, well, I was ALL over that!  Beyond thrilled, actually, because they had an ice sculpture display and I was extremely disappointed that the state fair didn’t have their Ice Museum this year.  But a holiday themed ice sculpture display?  Even better.  Made up for the state fair’s epic fail 1,000 times over.

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It was an amazing day.  I left our home early this past Saturday morning to drop my car off for the last free oil change of the year (huzzah for free — remember that coupon I talked about awhile back?).  Then, I timed it just right, and walked out to the main street (saving us 5 minutes of driving time) and hitched a ride with Tony in his car as he was zooming to the freeway and off we went to have breakfast with my friend, Grace, and her family.  Such a blessing (always) to see her!  (Love you, Grace!)

After that we headed up to the Queen Mary!  To see her decked out in her holiday finery was a sight to behold.

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The Queen Mary also has a village that they “dress” for the appropriate holiday season, and it was fun to mosey around the village and reminisce about the last time we were there… for Halloween last year.  William got a visit in with Santa (another post is in the works for that story), and then we headed into the dome to view the ice sculptures. Everything you see in the picture below, the wreath, the sign, it’s all ice.  Amazing.

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William’s nap was the only hangnail in this whole story, one which I’m still suffering from mommy guilt about.  He fell asleep at the appropriate time, but when I attempted to transfer him to the stroller he woke up.  Tony resorted to our standby of wearing him and, after much protesting, William went to sleep and ended up sleeping through our foray through the ice.  Maybe for the best, since it was really, really cold in there.  Tony got a talking to by one of the employees because of his lack of appropriate footwear.  Yes, seriously.  This man, who wears flip flops in 6′ snow banks, was duly informed that he was causing a liability and that it was a health hazard.  So he was asked to leave the exhibit.  Kind of silly, given that we were just a few displays away from the exit door, but, you know, whatever.

Of all the displays in the exhibit, the best and most beautiful one, I think, was the nativity scene.  I’m a sucker for nativity scenes, anyway, and particularly the glass or crystal ones.  And this one was huge and stunning…. and was the last one to see in the display.  Despite the coldness, it left me feeling warm and happy inside.

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This is an event that I would definitely attend again sometime in the future.  If you’re interested, more pictures from our adventure can be seen here:  LINK

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Home for the Holidays.

We would like to announce the arrival of our son.

He burst forth into this world on Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 10:53 AM.

We named him William John, in honor of my father and both of our grandfathers (respectively).

He tilted the scales at 10 lbs 11 ounces, and measured 21 inches in length.

Our son is healthy and came out with the most incredible, perfect nursing latch, with a piranha like suction and ravenous appetite.

My husband is the most amazing labor coach and baby support person I could have ever asked for. He did and is doing an absolutely amazing job. I am so, so proud of him and so humbled to be able to share this new little person with him every day.

My doula was absolutely perfect with me, with us, and was a great guide through the entire process. She is also a lactation consultant and is continuing to guide me. I am so grateful that I found her.

My labor started at 4:11 AM, I called my doula at 6:00 AM, we left for the hospital around 7:15 AM. We had an incredible team in the room to help deliver him, from the labor & delivery nurse who had had her two children in home births and therefore completely supported my desire for a natural childbirth and assisted in getting this kid’s enormous shoulders out of me, to my doctor who did an incredible job making sure she followed my birth plan to every detail possible.

I am sore in my breasts due to our son’s aforementioned appetite, and in my forearms due to the labor position I used, but otherwise completely fine and “injury” free. Yes, that means what you think it means.

I’ve been told I am the talk of the hospital since I delivered such a large baby completely drug, epidural and intervention free. Truth be told, I’m pretty proud of myself, too. I worked really, really hard to be as healthy and strong as I could be — eating healthy, preparing and researching for natural childbirth in a hospital setting, lap swimming every day for an hour, even the night before I went into labor! I was even at work on the 7th, the day before I delivered.

Oh, who am I kidding? No one really cares about all that crap. So… on to the fun stuff. Pictures!

Going home from the hospital…

I don’t suppose it needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway. We are completely, over the moon in love with this little boy.

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Filed under Best Husband, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Pair of Perfect Weekends.

Old Miner’s Day Parade was occurring the weekend we went to the mountains two weeks ago, but we didn’t know about until it was happening. We heard the military jets fly over to kick it off and we saw remnants of it afterwards as we walked through town. But we were enjoying our delicious “regular” breakfasts while it was parading through town. Everybody loves a parade, they say, but I think it’s safe to say that we love our breakfasts more! Priorities!

Tony’s…

Mine…

… and we both had enough leftovers for 3 or 4 breakfasts during the week. Nothing like having a tangible reminder of one of our favorite restaurants (and people) for a week after the original meal.

The tiny carnival was in town, too, and we strolled through the local vendors mixed in with the “carnies.” Tony visited the vendor who was popping and bagging kettle corn, and I visited the vendor who was selling shave ice. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it really was shave ice, and it neared the quality found in Hawaii and wasn’t that snow cone stuff. (What’s the difference? See here: Link)

We also saw llamas, people fishing, baby ducklings following their momma in the lake, people camping, speed boating and hiking with their dogs.

We stopped and visited the donkey, who was really interested in me until she discovered I had no treats for her!

She came trotting up to me…

She waited for me while I went to the car, and then came back…

Look how sad she is because I have no treats…

How bewildered I am…

We BBQ’d hamburgers and toasted marshmallows, had popcorn and watched movies on DVD. Oh, and took naps in the afternoon and had a nice, relaxing bath in the evening when the temperature cooled off.

(Sorry, Photobucket is being weird about these photos… you’ll just have to tilt your head…)

This weekend we headed down to Sea World, the planned highlight being Breakfast with Shamu. We were so excited when they brought back the Dining with Shamu experiences a couple months ago!

We left the rest of the day unplanned and spontaneously had our picture taken with Sea World characters (Shamu, Polar Bear, the Penguins and Sea Turtle).

We also happened to be walking by the Dolphin Show and the Pets Rule show just as they were starting and managed to score really good seats.

Dolphin finale…

Cat on high wire. Must be some good treats at the other end!

Doggy jumping rope in tandem with human…

While in the dolphin show, the sun suddenly burst through the clouds, which heated up the stadium immediately. We both spotted a vendor offering lemonade that was so cold it had beads of sweat falling off the cups, we looked at each other and were all, “LEMONADE!” Which is where we bought our companions for the day — The Psychedelic Dolphins!

They walked around with us the rest of the day, they drove home in our cup holder with us, and when Tony went to a movie that evening, I sent him a picture message of them with text that said, “You left your friends behind! They miss you!”

This morning, we had an unexpected rain storm. It was chore day, so I was up and at ‘em early, but when it started raining, I went upstairs and crawled back into bed, into my husband’s arms, pulled the covers up to my chin, and listened to the rain as he snoozed waiting for his alarm.

It’s moments like that, and experiences like these, that make weekends perfect. I hope yours was, too.

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Along for the Ride.

One of the things I appreciate about Tony is that he pulls me out of my routine and worries, and encourages me to do things spontaneously. Respectful, of course, of my needs or things I need to do… thus the word “encourages.”

Saturday morning he suggested going to the swap meet. It’s one of those things I love to do, just walk around and see what’s what, but just never take the time to do. I decided to go… and despite some physical discomfort, given what I’d done the day before, I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would. Although, I have to say, a post-adventure afternoon nap was definitely on the agenda after that!

Today was all about chores and planning ahead, boring but necessary.

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Weather Tricksters!

It was last Friday evening and I was gathering my stuff to go to the gym, debating in my mind whether I’d do an easy work out that night and a heavy work out in the morning, or just do a normal work out and wait until Saturday evening to go again.

Tony walked in the door and said, “It’s raining outside. They’re forecasting thunder and heavy rain for tonight.” I turned to him and replied flippantly, “Huh. Maybe we should go to the mountains…”

His eyes lit up and, a few phone calls later, miraculously, everything we were scheduled to do that weekend was able to be rescheduled and completed that Friday night.

You see, we never go to the mountains when it’s already raining (which means snow up there), but always when there’s snow in the forecast and then 99% of the time, it wimps out on us and we just go up and see dirty snow. Or no snow at all. Also known as sunshine at a higher elevation.

So it was that last Friday, it was raining heavily and halfway up our drive on the twisty mountain road, the rain that was loudly splattering on our windshield, turned to snow which gently, quietly settled for a moment before being whisked away by the windshield wipers. We were the ones making the noise at that point, shouting giddily at each other, “We tricked it! We tricked the weather!”

It was around 2am that we settled in the cabin and finally went to bed. We awakened the next morning to a world blanketed in white. I love fresh snow. When it lands in the night, it’s as if it makes nature pause — everything is so still and quiet. Before it’s touched by humans, the pure white, drifting mounds seem to go on and on. It’s so beautiful. This is the first snow we’ve seen this season, so we were reveling in the magical quality of it.

On our way to breakfast, we drove past our neighborhood donkey, she was contentedly under cover munching on her breakfast. The wicker couch on a porch, which not that long ago held a woman basking in the last rays of sunshine while reading a book, is now covered by a blue, plastic tarp. Dogs reveling in the snow were out with their humans who were alternately shoveling and laughing at their pet’s antics. People wearing snowshoes and winter clothing were briskly heading to mountain trails, replacing bicycles that were not long ago being idly pedaled down the road. Instead of people fishing alongside the bridge, birds were standing opportunistically in their place, waiting for the ice to break just enough…

Our favorite restaurant was pleasantly busy. One of the waitresses was just back from maternity leave, and it was so good to see her. We sat at the counter, as we usually do, and partook in the camaraderie that is such a part of the place.

While eating at the counter, the lady next to me took a phone call. In a low, discreet voice, she asked her caller a few questions and then left her seat for a more private spot. I asked her husband if she was a bail bond agent, he gave me an assessing look, and replied in the affirmative.

Knowing I have a magnetism for strangers telling me most anything and everything about themselves, I mentally shrugged and asked him what he did. He replied, “I’m a criminal lawyer, but I also do Federal Marshall work…” and the conversation continued on to discuss his work, his hopes for his future career, the economy, long-time restaurants in Los Angeles, and continued for another 15-20 minutes, when his wife returned to finish her meal, she joined in the conversation.

After we left, Tony said to me, “Did you find out if they’re on LinkedIn? Maybe you should network with them.” I blinked a couple times, laughed, and replied, “Nooooo?” I’m still trying to figure out if Tony thinks we’ll maybe need a bail bond agent and a criminal lawyer in our future?

After making our rounds in town, it was back to the cabin for movies and peaceful afternoon naps. Relaxing and rejuvenating.

Someone once made the statement that we move at such a fast pace in this world, we need to stop and let our soul catch up with our body.

That’s what the mountains do for us — the beauty and peace, devoid of everyday obligations, allows our souls to catch up with our bodies.

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Filed under I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, Life Encompasses Me, Sometimes I Sleep