A few summer pictures

A few summer pictures

So….. Almost a year since my last post. Hmmm… I totally understand if everyone has bailed on this little blog. For those that have stuck around, here is your yearly update:

Summer is flying by and most of the birthdays have passed us. I turned 39 and inch closer to 40 every day now. It’s not really depressing, just an observation that time goes by even when we don’t want it to.

At the end of June Eloise turned 2. In less than a week Frances is turning 4. So how has life changed since August of my last post? One thing is for sure; it’s hard to document life when most of the milestones have passed… Walking, crawling, talking, all are now graduates. Now we are in the just living stage. And that’s kind of a big change I guess. Instead of living with two babies, we are living with 2 small fully-functioning humans. One of which is capable of doing almost anything herself.

Frances has grown to be a very smart, observant, determined, little girl. Like all 4 year olds, she is capable of her emotional outbursts that require a moment of time out, but most of the time, she is all “excuse me, please, and thank you”. I’m a proud parent of that girl.

Eloise, while also being a lovely young lady, is really a completely different kid than Frances. It’s funny how you can attempt to raise 2 children the same way, and get 2 completely different results. Ellie is smart and strong-willed like Frances, but just has a different personality all together. For one thing, she is a goofball. She likes to make us smile and laugh. Frances likes to dance, and Ellie likes to sing.

Frances still goes to gymnastics every week and will soon start soccer. Eloise completed her first year of preschool and I think she truly loved it. Even one of her teachers is now our goto babysitter.

So how have we changed as parents? Not much, really. After the first year with Eloise, i think we have hit our stride. With Frances doing everything first, we kind of know what to expect with Eloise. So far we’ve tackled her terrible twos pretty easily. We kind of laugh when our cute little toddler turns into the raging monster after being told she can’t have or do something. Her devastating fall to the floor and wailing at us like we are the worst people in the world is more comical than anything else.

But all in all, things are just so much easier as they grow older. Dining out is easier. Going on long trips is easier. Shopping is easier.

Having 2 kids is great. That’s why I’ll never mess it up by adding a 3rd. Never. Ever. Are you crazy?

Happy summer, everyone!

Here are a few pics to tide you over until the next post:

The end of summer

The end of summer

This week marked the official end of summer for us. No, it’s still hot as hell outside; 107 degrees yesterday, in fact. It was the reality that Annie went back to work. Gone are the glorious days of sleeping in until the kids woke up. Yes, that was really only till about 7:30am, but now it’s 6am sharp. Ugh. I do not like this turn of events. No sir.

Summer was a real blast for us, and I know I kind of dropped off the blogosphere after the Disney trip, but maybe it was because we were having too much fun to write.

No, that wasn’t it. It was mostly dealing with our wonderful 3-year-old Frances cope with the devastation that not everything is to go her way, all the time. That right there is a 24-hour job. It doesn’t end at bedtime. Nope. Not when little Miss Sunshine likes to get out of bed 3 or 4 times for no apparent reason. No one knows the true meaning of terror until you wake up in the middle of the night and a small human is staring at you in the dark, right in front of your face. Remind me again why it’s not OK to padlock your child in her room at night?

Frances, Frances, Frances… We love her so much. She is wicked smart. She can even spell her name. But man, can she be a 3 year old… Kids say the darndest things, and she is no exception. Her working knowledge of swear words would impress a sailor. We had Open House at preschool on Sunday and I was biting my lip hoping she would say all the right things, and none of the wrong things. Don’t worry. She made us proud. Everyone was amazed when we said she just turned 3. She is so much taller than kid’s her age.

She started daycare last week and has already brought home a cold into our house. Which, of course, made its rounds to everyone. Eloise is just now back to her snot free self. Let’s just hope for no ear infections!

Eloise is an eating machine. The amount of food she consumes each sitting is amazing. It’s not our fault, though. She is totally self-feeding and thus self-regulating. We tried spoon-feeding her and she wants nothing of it. She wants to shovel her food in with both hands. Literally. So far, anything goes. There are very few foods she will not eat.

So a little bit about the summer:

Let’s start with what happened 2 weeks after I got back from Disneyland. I woke up with excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. After driving all over Turlock for tests, I was immediately scheduled for an emergency appendectomy. This happened the week of: A: Eloise’s 1st birthday party, B: Her 1 year professional photo shoot, C: My band’s gig at a new venue, and D: 6 days before I was to board a plane and fly to Kentucky with the wife and kids.
All were cancelled or rescheduled except for the flight. No way was I going to miss that. So 6 days later and minus one appendix, we boarded a plane bound for Kentucky. And of course, during the layover in Chicago I would have to run to the next terminal… With Frances in my arms. A great way to test those sutures, let me tell you.

But we made it to Kentucky, even though our bags did not (Thanks, O’Hare International). There’s nothing like a little trip to Wal-mart the next day for socks and underwear.

Once there, my mom had a huge 4th of July party planned and we got to see so many of the family that I hadn’t seen in years! I was so happy they got to meet Eloise, and in some cases even Frances for the first time. They impressed everyone, and Frances made lots of new friends. It was very sad to have to leave after 2 short weeks, and I can tell my parents were really going to miss us. Maybe not the babysitting part, though. An upright and walking 1-year-old can wreck havoc in a house that isn’t baby-proofed.

Instead of going back to KY again in August for my 20th year (20th!!!) high school reunion, I called my high school buds Noah and Nick, and they rallied all the old friends I cared about. We decided to have our own impromptu reunion BBQ. (Sorry High School reunion planners!) It’s pretty amazing how in some cases it’s been 10 years since I’ve seen some of these guys, and yet it felt so natural to hang out again and talk. We’ve all maybe gotten a little older, a little bigger, and at least picked up 2 kids along the way, but other than that… the same. Oh, and Frances fell in the pool fully clothed. That’s our Frances!

Back to California we came, and it was good to be home. Except for the fact that we then had to plan a birthday party for both Frances & Eloise, and reschedule Eloise’s photo shoot. The party went off without a hitch and they both enjoyed their birthday cupcakes and great gifts. It was nice to see all the Masellis family together again.

It’s kind of sad to see summer fade away though. It’s a fair trade I suppose. To see those temperatures drop and the leaves fall. Autumn is just around the corner. And you know what that brings? That’s right… Ridiculous Halloween costumes for the children!

I leave you with a few quotes and anecdotes:

1: Frances on Eloise: “I love her sweet little baby head.”

2: Frances: “I’m a grown up”
Annie: “You are not a grown up”
Frances: “Yes, I am. I’m a teeny-tiny grown up.”

3: It’s bedtime and Frances wants to hear a song.
Frances: “Sing me ‘Francie and Mama’”.

4: This last one is great. One day, Frances asked me if I knew the Muffin Man. And for some reason I decided to joke with her and say “Nope, never heard of him”. Big mistake. Now at least 4 times a day I get: “Dada?…” she asks sincerely. “Yes, Frances?”, I reply. “Do you know the Muffin Man?”

Summer time, and the living is easy…

Summer time, and the living is easy…

Well, hello there, summer. Time for a vacation. And so we did; Disneyland style (Photo Gallery at the bottom of the page).

As soon as Annie ended her work year with school, we packed our bags, left Eloise with grandma, and took Frances to the happiest place on earth. Yes, that’s right. We ignored George Bush’s plea of “No Child Left Behind” and ditched our youngest for a little fun in the L.A. sun. It was by design though. We wanted Frances to have a little alone time with us, since she really hasn’t had any since Eloise was born. She’s been a great big sister thus far, so we felt like she needed a reward.

As you can imagine, a 5-hour car ride with an “almost” 3 year old can be interesting. The “are we there yet” question you’d usually expect was replaced with “I wanna get out!” about every 15 minutes. Good times. We eventually made it, and even without her taking a nap, there was very little crying, very few stops, and ZERO accidents. She’s a potty-trained princess now! All in all we only lost about an hour with our stops. Not bad at all. We made even better time coming back home. And for those of you wondering… No, we did not have to utilize iPads, DVDs, or digital video of any kind to keep her busy. Books and toys, my friends. Just like the old days. It can still be done.

Moving on… Like I said, we made it, and checked into our hotel that was literally right across the street from the Park. I highly recommend the Best Western Plus – Anaheim. Cheap rooms, but perfectly fine accommodations. After checking in, we drove about 20 miles to see our friends Cori and Mark, who recently had to move to Anaheim for business. Frances is very close to their daughter’s age, and loves playing with her. It was a great reunion for Isla and Frances, as we all enjoyed eating dinner outside and watching the kids play. Gotta love L.A. weather.

After a long day we drove back to the hotel and snuggled into bed soon after sunset. We wanted to get a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s adventures. Just as we were all about to fall asleep, we were aroused by the sound of fireworks. If you have time, watch the videos we took. The picture is pitch black, but her audio commentary is priceless.

The next morning we woke and made our way across the street into Disneyland. Getting there early is the absolute best thing you can do. We waited very little to ride the rides we wanted to, and by the end of the first day, we had rode practically everything that Frances was allowed on. Frances was initially scared to death of every single ride. And to be honest, there is an element of fear to all their rides. Whether it be the scary evil queens or the yellow eyes peering out from the dark, Frances did not enjoy Disney’s shenanigans and hid her own eyes at various times. But every time we would get off the ride, she’d say, “That was awesome!” or , “Let’s ride another one”. She’s a complicated woman, that Frances. Her personal favorites were the spinning tea cups, the carousal, and It’s A Small World boat ride. Not surprisingly, The Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion were not her favorite. However, I think the one that scared her the most was Snow White. Seriously… That one and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, are some seriously messed up, acid-driven designed rides. Is that Hell you go through at the end of Mr. Toad? I was confused and a little scared myself. However, Frances loved that one because she could drive. Go figure.

We also discovered on this trip that Frances is deathly afraid of dragons, and apparently they come out right when the sun goes down. So day 2 at sunset, Frances wanted no part of Disneyland anymore. After we watched the parade and ate our ice cream cones, we retreated back to our hotel where we could still see the fireworks. Safe from the fire-breathing dragons that infest Disneyland after dark.

It was a great trip, but I’m not sure we can really call a place that doesn’t serve beer the happiest place on earth. Come on, people, priorities!

And really… Someone MUST do something about the dragon problem. For reals…

Happy summer, everyone!

Lies! All Lies!

Lies! All Lies!

Hello again, faithful readers. Thanks for your ongoing patience.

The kids are growing at a lightning pace and it’s hard to keep track of everything.

Eloise standing at the fridge eating the magnetic letters. Totally safe.
Eloise standing at the fridge eating the magnetic letters. Totally safe.
I guess the biggest thing is Eloise is standing and pulling herself up on things. She is NOT standing by herself though. When she lets go she is wobbly and immediately sits down after a few seconds. I am impressed though, she is really good at not falling. Because when Frances was younger and started standing, she used to fall all the time and for no reason. It was like her legs just gave out or something. When she wasn’t crying it was incredibly funny. It really was like having a *drunken midget* around. *(Hat tip to Tina Fey)

Eloise may not be standing independently or walking yet, but she is amazedly sturdy. She has thinned out a lot, and like Frances, a little tall for her age. She HAS started traversing the couch like a pro, and I expect the first independent steps will come in the next month or so.
Eloise is also eating up a storm… No doubt to fuel her active body. Like we did with Frances, we make all her baby food and freeze it. In the past few months she’s had: avocado, corn, tofu, sweet potato, apples, pears, chicken, green beans, peas, broccoli, mango, yogurt, cheese, zucchini, and butternut squash. All organic if possible. So far so good on everything too. She’s a great eater.

Eloise being happy
Eloise being happy
We try not to be snobby or preachy, because there really is no right or wrong way to raise kids. I mean, there is… Like don’t lock them in a cage, or let them watch Barney the purple dinosaur… Ever. What I’m trying to say is that while we have a strong opinion about organics, it’s a personal choice. And if your personal choice is to poison your child with pesticides, then so be it. It’s America and you are able to do what you want. Just don’t give your 5 year old a gun. Please.

Below is a list of the so called “dirty dozen”. 12 foods that you really should be buying organic. These are fruits and vegetables that are so laden with pesticides, that even a good thorough washing doesn’t remove them all. So don’t just laugh at me and say just wash your produce and it’s okay. It’s not.

The list:
Cherry Tomatoes
Hot Peppers
Nectarines – imported
Sweet Bell Peppers
Summer Squash
Kale/Collard Greens

Okay, so this year it’s 13. Sue me. Take a look at those and think about how much you consume these foods. Scary, huh?

It’s not all doom and gloom though, There are also plenty of produce out there that is safe even if it’s not organic. So don’t think you have to go crazy and go 100% dirty hippy. The following non-organics are pretty safe after a good wash:

Sweet Corn
Frozen Sweet peas
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet Potatoes
Moving on…

Look at the little angel/devil
Look at the little angel/devil
Let’s talk about sleeping, or lack thereof. Eloise has just now began sleeping through the night. And I mean like 2 weeks ago. Up until then it was 6:30pm to bed and up screaming at 3:30am. I would go in and soothe her, but would try to not pick her up. Most experts now say a calming voice while touching them is better than picking them up and rocking them. So I tried that, often multiple times a night, but it almost always culminated in Annie going in a feeding her. Yeah, we caved in and did what you should never do. Somewhere in Eloise’s tiny brain she stored that info and processed it for future reference: “If I cry enough, the milk will come”. I could almost hear her thinking it… every night at 3:30am. And she always ended it by saying: ” I own you, bitches.” At least that’s what I thought she said. I was sleepy.

So, this continued for a long time until 2 things happened. One, we finally said no more milk. Mainly, because at some point soon, Annie will ween, and then there will be no more warm milk in the middle of the night available. So we decided to close the store early and just stop. No more Annie going in, just me taking it for the team. And I did for about 3 days straight. Constantly getting up starting at 3:30 to about 5am, off and on, whenever she cried. But she eventually always went back to sleep and woke up between 6:30-7:30 with a smile on her face. Weird, huh? No screaming, no whining for milk. Happy as a pig in sh*t. So we KNEW she wasn’t waking up hungry at 3am. I must also explain that during this reign of terror, she was also sick with colds/flus/ etc, and also teething her two upper front teeth. So it was really hard to figure out what she needed. Anyway… the second thing we changed was we put a night light in her room. That. in my opinion, was the solution. Because literally that night she slept from 7pm to 7am. It was a miracle!

Now let’s talk about lies. Lies I tell you! Frances has now joined the lot of us and is exhibiting plausible deniability in everything. Example: Frances and Eloise playing together, and I turn my back. To which I then hear Eloise screaming bloody murder. I turn back around and ask Frances what happened. To which she innocently replies: “Nuffing”. Upon further inspection it was discovered that Frances had “attempted” to jump over sister. She failed.

Sigh… They grow up so fast.

Potty TRAINED (whoop whoop!)

Potty TRAINED (whoop whoop!)

Yes, that’s right. I know I alluded to it in the last post, but it seems that Frances has really turned the corner and is finally potty-trained. And actually, once we just said the heck with it and just put her in panties, it was a pretty fast process. We knew she loved Thomas the

In the first few days of training we had to bribe her with toys for sitting down on the potty
In the first few days of training we had to bribe her with toys to sit down on the potty

Train, so we got her some Thomas the Train panties. No big deal, right? Well, the first accident had her really upset with herself that she got Thomas dirty. After that, accidents were very few and far between. Thank you, Thomas, you’re a savior! I know there could always be setbacks, but I’m confident in her and this blog post. She doesn’t even ask for a reward for going potty now.

True Story: I go upstairs the other morning to get her and Eloise clothes for the day. I leave Frances at the dinner table eating breakfast. I come back downstairs a few minutes later to find her sitting on her potty. She looks up at me and goes, “Dada, I go poo poo!” You gotta love that!

I just can’t believe how grown up she is getting. Each day she is getting smarter… and more cunning. Who knew children could be so diabolical. She knows just what buttons to push to attempt to get what she wants… She also knows exactly how to scream and throw a fit when she DOESN’T get what she wants. We’ve always been big believers in not saying NO directly, but point her in other directions and use positive reinforcement when possible… But JEEZUS, that’s so hard sometimes. Frances has probably been in “timeout” more than we care to admit, but sometimes that’s the only thing that works. Mostly we just ignore the flare ups and let her calm down. That seems to be working, as we have seen that her outbursts of defiance are shorter and less prevalent. Now we get downcast eyes with an “okay, dada”, coupled with a sad face as she shuffles away. Which in its own way really cute.

I don’t want to put out the perception that she’s a bad kid in any shape or fashion. She is awesome; hilarious and loving. She will come hug me when baby is crying and say “I love you, dada”. But it is kinda funny albeit a little sad when she calls for momma after waking up and if it’s me that goes to get her, she says sadly in her broken English: “No, Not you one…” and then proceeds to look defeated and cries. Thanks, Frances. I love you too.

She’s just a typical two and a half year old, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

Eloise almost crawling, but mostly just chewing on her toys.
Eloise almost crawling, but mostly just chewing on her toys.

Eloise is doing great as well. She can sit up really well and is now army crawling. She can get up on her knees and rock, but she still hasn’t fully crawled yet. I suspect it’s coming in the next few days though.

We are finally sick free *knock on wood*. Can you believe that days after my last post, Eloise, Frances, and I got sick again!?!  This time with a pretty bad cold. I had a trip to Santa Barbara planned that I even had to cancel. With snotty noses and coughing all around, we are a sad bunch for a few days. Annie still remains unscathed through this bad flu season, and I can tell she is losing sympathy for me when I keep getting sick. I can be a big baby when ill, because despite this season, I’m hardly ever sick. This season it really has kicked my tail.

So to everyone out there, stay healthy, and wash your hands!