Thursday, August 27, 2009

Away From Home

It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago we packed up and drove away from a life that we loved.



I had a very heavy heart that day....as I did for many days to follow, actually. I've missed our family and friends the most. Oh and the occasional wildfire, those sure were fun. I've missed watching my girls grow up along side their cousins and friends--these kids have been by each others' side from day 1.

Which is why, when we were reunited again, everyone's heart was smiling. Except for maybe Mia, whose heart was screeching in agony.



We stayed at Eugene's parents house and we had so much fun! We always feel so "at home" when we're there. We also met up with our best friends the Castanedas for some fun in the sun.

Bella, Tessa, Sienna and Mia picked up their friendship right where they left off--as if no time has passed. I think regardless of age, true friendship is true friendship.





Later that evening, we had a pajama party at Andy and Vanessa's in which we all spent some quality time together. Vanessa and I caught up on our TMZ gossip, Eugene and Andy compared cameras, and the girls danced and played all evening! Here they are in their PJ's, chillaxin' with some popcorn and a movie.



Seriously, they stayed like this for at least an HOUR. Thank you Tinkerbell: The Movie.



Watching these girls giggle and gab made me think about all the fun I had at pajama party's growing up. From light as a feather stiff as a board to the Bloody Mary mirror trick, we did it all. Late night talks debating who was cuter Kirk Cameron or Corey Haim (Haim) or what was cooler Outback Red or Firenza (Firenza). I can't remember where I leave my keys most days, but my memories of 6th grade are crystal clear.



I wish someone could have reminded me that Coca-Cola is a soft drink and NOT a fashion statement.



In my mind I fast forward 8 years and I know these girls will be doing the same thing. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion their talks won't be about princesses and farm animals like they were this night. But their innocence will still be there and I hope their journey will be as exciting as mine was.



We ended our visit with a great dinner with great friends. I cherish these dinners, since they only happen twice a year and because there are no kids allowed! Can I get a 'what what' ?!!. It's interesting how much our conversations have changed over the years. Yet with all these changes, I am so proud of my friends and of all the collected accomplishments among them. I miss them more than they know.



Until next visit....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Burgers and Birthdays

Hey! It's been awhile. We've been out of town for the past three weeks having a blast visiting with our families. Our trip kicked off with a flight to Los Angeles, a place we called home just twelve months ago. 15 minutes after getting in the car we found ourselves firmly planted in the drive-thru of our favorite burger joint



to grub on this



You gotta respect a fast food chain with priorities



After shoveling an animal style cheeseburger into our mouths and sucking on some cheese-paper we drove north to Fran's place (Eugene's brother) where we were greeted with warm and familiar embraces.







After spending some quality cousin time, we celebrated Kalia and Mateo's birthday with food, fun and water balloons.



The Birthday Boy


Don't get in Tessa's way!


Mia watches Sienna closely to see how it's done!


Teamwork!


Is it me or is this picture a tad bit inappropriate?


Pass it before it pops!


Moments like this remind me how much I adore my friends


Just before we were about to leave we were fortunate enough to get another family picture. And ironically, we were all wearing white :) It's not often that we are all under one roof--but when it does happen I cherish every moment of it.



Happy 4th Birthday Kalia and Happy 2nd Birthday Mateo!!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fruit and Tooty Pizza



Chicago is known for it's pizza so this recipe, the Fruit and Tooty Pizza, should come as no shocker. I stumbled across this in a magazine and loved it. We had a ball making it too!

INGREDIENTS:

Crust
1 lb. of pizza dough (we couldn't find the dough in the store so we used a DiGiorno pizza crust)
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Frosting
1 (8oz.) package of low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
Assorted fruit. We used blueberries, banana slices, mandarin oranges, seedless grapes, kiwi slices and strawberry halves. You can be as creative as you want with the fruit!

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Spread the dough in an ungreased 12-inch pizza pan. Brush on the butter and sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake the crust until it's golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool the crust on a wire rack.
3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the frosting ingredients with a rubber spatula. Stir until smooth.
4. Spread the frosting over the cooled crust. Gently press in the fruit. Serves 12.


I do give this recipe a thumbs up as does my family. However, next time I'm going to leave out the mandarin oranges. It was a little too much citrus flavor with the orange zest in the frosting. In fact, be choosy with the fruit in the center, as it's the first bite you'll take. Next time, I'll definitely throw in some raspberries. Hope you enjoy!


video

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's Your Sign?



Hi.

Of the quarter of a million words in the English language, Mia chose hi to be her first word. Isn't that precious? She says it all the time to whomever will listen. It is the only word she says. Until today, when to my surprise, she said mama. I can't deny how much that made me smile. Although, she doesn't quite look my way when muttering those two syllables so who knows if she actually means me. I'm trying my best not to compare her to Bella. It's hard because Bella is my only frame of reference but I think if I start comparing now it will become a slippery slope years from now. As the "fairest" one of all, I'm not worried that Mia isn't talking a whole bunch, because I know that she's got a really solid understanding of what's going on around her. It's all about the non-verbal communication these days. Man, I should have paid more attention in college. To make up for my drunken college days, I decided to redeem myself by enrolling in another communication class--a baby sign language class. I took it while I was pregnant with Bella 4 years ago and loved it!

The class was part of a program called Baby Signs

They claim that using their program:

• Reduces tears, tantrums and frustration

• Makes learning to talk easier

• Boosts self-esteem and self-confidence

• Stimulates intellectual development

• Strengthens the parent-child bond

I can't quite say that I agree with all of the afore-mentioned claims, but I do think it enhances the parent-child bond and I also think it really increases self-confidence. And not to mention, it's super fun to do with your child, so why the heck not, right?!

At about 9 months I began signing to Mia. There's a 3 month incubation time where you look like a complete idiot doing these signs over and over again while your child stares at you blankly. But sure enough, about three months later she began to sign back to me. I began with the basics, milk, eat, more and all-done. For example, this morning when I gave her a sippy cup filled with water, she looked at it, looked at me, then made the sign for milk. She's a picky one, huh? Then I slowly introduced her to more signs. Now, every time she hears our dog Rizzo or any other dog for that matter she starts panting and patting herself (that sounds really creepy, huh?). This week she has mastered the sign for please and now knows that if she wants anything from us she has to sign please first. I hope I don't sound like Mommy Dearest, because it's really not like that. I think it's great that a 15 month old is already learning her manners. I love watching her sign too-- her mind works faster than her little fingers do and sometimes she gets frustrated. It's the cutest thing and makes me all buttery inside.

Here's a little from her repertoire

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