Monday, September 5, 2016

Bye Bye Curls

Well, it was time.


Jesse was starting to really get bothered by the curls on his ears and I figured if we cut the top and sides but left the back then he'd be left with a mullet.

So off it all went.

It's still a bit longer on the top than I'd like but I think we'll get that trimmed up next week.

He looks so much like his brother!

And so much bigger!

I have to admit, I miss the curls, but it will be interesting to see if they come back or not.  You can already tell he has curlier hair than Max does.

In other news, Jesse is talking a lot more lately.  He babbles, says "gata," "step," "please," and "more" which he signs and says.  He's also about 33" tall and is getting pretty close to Max who stands at just over 37"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer break in PA

This past week the kids were off school for summer break.  Please don't ask me why a daycare and preschool are off for summer break; I don't want to talk about it.  Nevertheless, the kids were off for a week and we needed something fun to do.   Off to PA!

I took the kids to PA for the week and was able to telework while Jeremy took the week off and spent it in northern California camping with his dad and his brother.

My mom was prepared for the fact that two kids with short attention spans were about to be in her house for a week.  She had so many activities planned.  She even had a full sized huge bounce house!  They also had the house kid proofed and my Dad had spent the last few months getting the spare bedroom ready for the kids.  It went from our old magic room (yes magic room) into a kids room fully decked out in Mickey Mouse.  It's also the first time that the kids slept together in the same room without Mommy and Daddy.  They did great.

Day 1

Day one we went to the children's Please Touch museum in Philly.  It was a sunday and about 90+ degrees outside, so of course the cool air conditioned museum was packed.  Fortunately it's a very large museum, so it wasn't too bad.  The kids were able to play with everything they wanted without waiting too long.  It's a really great museum and if you are in the area with small kids (<5) you should definitely check it out.  They have a play grocery store area complete with isles, carts, meat, bread, and fish counters, and cash registers.  They also have a work site and emergency vehicles area as well as a garden area and trains section.  They also have a full Alice in Wonderland display that is amazing and a rocket room where you can launch foam rockets.  Finally, upstairs they have a carousel and a large water play area.

Day 2 

Day two I went to Barnes and Noble to work while Grandma and Papa played with the kids.  This was so nice.  Not only did I have some quite time outside of the house, after working I took some extra time for myself to browse the store and find some new books.  Besides some Curious George books, I bought a new one "There is a Bird on my Head" in the Elephant and Piggie series.

While I worked, the kids had fun playing in the pool, using the new t-ball set, and just hanging out playing with all the toys they don't see that often.  That night we ate dinner at Blue Mountain.  This is the ski resort that I used to race for in high school.  It's amazing to be back, even in the summer, to see all the upgrades that have taken place over the last 15 years.  It really looks nice, especially the lodge area.

Day 3 

Day three was another work day for me but I was able to play in the morning because my work schedule was shifted to Pacific time.  There was play time in the bounce house, finger paints, bubbles, and an egg hunt.  Like I said, lots of activities planned.  Mom even got them a chalk board and a new track with race cars that they played with while I worked.

Day 4

Wednesday was a day off for me.  It was also a special day because my long time friend, John, came down from New York to see us.  It was so nice of him to make the drive back and forth in the same day, and I can say it was so much appreciated.  We were all going to go down to Dutch Wonderland with the kids, but it was hot and we decided to just stay home and relax.  That was fine by all.  John and I first met doing magic so many years ago.  Since that time we've weaved in and out of magic, but John's love and talent of balloons had exploded.  He's amazing.  Words cannot describe.  He was also nice enough to bring balloons down and show me a few new twists I can do myself.  Yes, at one time I used to be into balloons as well as magic.  John even pulled out a paw patrol balloon for Max without having done one before.  Amazing.  

Day 5

Thursday was day five and that meant back to work for me.  While I had a pretty hectic day, the kids had fun feeding the fish at the fish hatchery, playing with all the toys, and even trying to make some slime.  That night we went to the carnival at Muhlenburg Hospital.  They had ride passes for $20 and Max rode so many rides it was well worth it.  

Day 6

Soon enough it was Friday and it was time to go home.  It was really hard leaving this time.  I know the kids had so much fun with Grandma and Papa, but they were also ready to go home and see Daddy.  I know Max wishes that all his grandparents and uncle Matt lived closer.  Perhaps one day.  

The flight home was fortunately uneventful.  It's a long flight but the kids did great.  Unfortunately it was a full flight, both legs, but even with our small space Max managed to sleep the entire flight from Chicago back to Oakland.  Jesse did good, though he's become a little troublemaker.  At one point he wanted Max to play so he whacked him with a phone.  That was a rude awakening.  

A million thanks to my parents for showing the boys a good time and having so many activities planned to keep them occupied for the week.  After this trip I think they are ready for a week on their own while Mommy and Daddy take a vacation.  What do you think?  :)

A lot to catch up on.

I can't believe that it's been 2 months since I last blogged about the family.  Lots been going on since then.  A quick recap on the kids.

Jesse - 15 1/2 months

Jesse is doing amazing.  As for the nystagmus, we know he has a chin down head tilt that is becoming more apparent as he gets more into reading books and such, but otherwise his vision is very good.  Of course we can't say for sure what it is, but we know it's on track and he has no trouble doing everything any other kids do.  We will be visiting a third doctor, Dr. Granet, in two weeks to see how we feel about his procedure to help correct the nystagmus.

Otherwise Jesse is a mostly happy go lucky boy.  His wake ups from nap are rough, but after an hour or so he's so happy.  He laughs a lot and has the biggest smile.  He walks like crazy and loves to put things away.  He can say Woah, Yes, Mama, Dada, All Done, and sometimes Jesse.  He has 14 teeth with 2 more coming in and he still has his beautiful curly baby locks that I just can't bring myself to cut; maybe next week.  He loves playing with brother Max and wants to do whatever it is that he is doing.  He also likes playing cooking and playing with the track from grandma and papa with the light up cars.  His favorite toy is the hand mixer.  His reputation as a train baby hasn't diminished either.  Oh, and he's an instigator.

Max - 3 yrs 2 months

Max is a full blown 3 year old.  He loves trucks and construction vehicles.  He also still loves trains, but given the choice at a toy store he will choose the construction vehicle train over the standard thomas train, or the like.  Yesterday he did amazingly well on the flight from PA back to Oakland that he got to pick out a new train from the toy store.  It was a hard choice but he picked the tow truck train and there are a few on his list that he's been looking at  (HERE, ahem grandparents looking for gift ideas). Mama's pretty happy that he's consistently avoided picking the Thomas train.  Though I will say, a few weeks ago we went to Thomas Day Out and I'm surprised to say that it was actually quite pleasant.  We road the train at Roaring Camp Railroad and it was amazingly beautiful.  Max's vocabulary and grammar has blossomed and he loves telling stories and pretending play.  He's usually a good big brother to Jesse, but still enjoy's his alone time, especially after dinner.  Max's best friends are Alexander, Sai, and little Jack.  His favorite toy at the moment is Magnatiles and construction vehicles and he likes to "do it himself" whatever it is.

July 4th

I realized I also didn't have a chance to blog about July 4th.  Like most years, we were in Ohio for the holiday.  Sue put on a great party, as usual, and I finally was able to sit through about half of the Elvis show.  Yes, that's right, Elvis.  He's a fixture as these parties.

Max and Jesse spent the weekend playing in the big yard, riding grandpa's Polaris UTV through the woods, and playing with their cousins, especially Zaly.  Max loves Zaly ("ZZ").

While we were in Ohio, Jesse also had an appointment with Dr. Hertle in Akron.  You can read all about that HERE.

Mom and Dad

Jeremy and I are doing well.  We are thinking about buying a house out here in CA, which is pretty huge, but nothing has materialized yet.  Just some discussions.  We're also in the market for a new car, so the end of 2016 might be pretty expensive for us.

My job is going great, as usual and Jeremy is rocking it at NASA.  Life is pretty good.


At the end of July we took a family camping trip to Portola Redwoods State Park.  It was beautiful and I'd been waiting over a year to visit.  We got a large family tent a while back from an online Mom's group so we had plenty of room.  The kids loved sleeping in the tent and did great.  Of course there were some stressful moments keeping them out of the soot of the fire pit and keeping Max from poking the banana slugs, but it was worth it.  Max even did the little rangers program where he learned about animals and their adaptations.  A month later and he still remembers and understands that word.

We also took a few hikes and roasted marshmallows, of course.  Some caught fire...

CA State Fair

July was packed with fun adventures.  In addition to camping and a trip to Ohio, we also visited the CA state fair.  This was our second year to go and we really enjoyed it.  We rode rides, played games, and Max even milked a cow!  We also got passes for the water park and the kids had fun splashing around and playing in the wave pool.  I think we may even go back in the next few weeks.


As summer winds to an end we head into the new school year and fall.  As you might imagine, our lives aren't going to get any less exciting.  We have a few trips planned for the fall and we can't wait to watch the kids grow and blossom.  Our big trip of the season is a trip to Disney World!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Grandma and Grandpa Rea Visit

A few weeks back Grandma and Grandpa Rea came to visit.  This was smack in the middle of birthday season and Grandma (Grammy) and Papa Stortz had just left.  The boys were wound up and couldn't wait to have another 5 days of undivided attention.

That weekend we had yearly pictures scheduled and a birthday party for Max's little friend, so we didn't do any big excursions, but we had fun.

Saturday was our yearly pictures.  This year Sara Pope Photography did them for us.  Sara is great and had also done Jesse's newborn shoot.

After playing at home on Saturday, Sunday morning Mom and Dad got to go for another bike ride together.  After doing some bike maintenance this ride went a lot smoother for both of us.

We then headed off to the Bay Area Children's Museum for Max's friends birthday party.  This was Max's first birthday party and he was very excited.  Jesse stayed with Grandma and Grandpa and played in the little kid zone while Max played with his friends.  It worked out well for him to be able to have some time with his friends.

After the first grandparent visit we realized that it's nice to send one child to daycare and keep the other one home for some quality one-on-one time.

During Max's day off they went to the zoo and spent the afternoon on the zoo rides.  Never quite made it to the zoo itself.  Roller coaster, airplane, cars (firetruck), trains, carousel (bench!) all were a big hit.

Jesse's day off was spent at the playground playing on the swings and slides.

Of course we also had to have a birthday celebration.  More presents!!

Another fire helmet!

Fun visit with grandma and grandpa Rea

Max turns 3!

This post may be a few days premature, but as we close out the weekend it seems like an appropriate time to blog about the end of birthday season and the awesome time had by all at Max's 3rd Birthday Party.

This years theme was fire trucks.

You may recall that last year's theme, trains, came complete with a large cardboard train.  It seemed only appropriate that this year we had a large fire truck, designed structurally sound enough for the kids to play in.

The Food:

After a very long week of prep work and baking, the party went off without a hitch.  Jeremy did all the food prep which included bbq pulled pork, roasted vegetables, macaroni and cheese (courtesy of Bonnie), baked beans, strawberries & grapes, and cheese (courtesy of Sue).  I made all the desserts which included sugar cookies with royal icing, fire cupcakes, and of course, a fire truck cake.  The cupcakes were chocolate and vanilla flavored, and the cake was strawberry.  Needless to say, we cooked WAY too much food, but it was slightly improved from last year.  (Note to self, 15 lbs of pulled pork for 20 adults and 10 kids may be fine in TX but about 2x too much in California).  Also, the
cookie recipe was tested several times before the event to find the optimal cookie which held its shape and tasted good.  I finally settled on the one linked above from Cake Central, and I would recommend using it for anyone looking to do cookie decorating.

Max loved his birthday cake and really enjoyed singing Happy Birthday to himself with all his little friends.

The Entertainment:

To keep the kids occupied for a few hours we had the cardboard fire truck, a small play house at the park, we did arts and crafts, and we rented a bounce house.  Well, the bounce house was the hit of the party, as you can imagine.  As a last minute addition, I found beach balls at Michaels for $1/each.  Perfect.  I let the kids play in the bounce house for a while, then we painted, played, had cake, played, then I threw in the beach balls.  The kids were well occupied throughout the event and did pretty well playing without too much intervention.

The kids loved painting the sun catchers that I bought, though I would advise using watered down paints and omitting the black, as most of them turned out very dark and didn't really "sun catch" by the end.

I also had some spin art and coloring pages as a backup activity, but they seemed very happy with the bounce house, so those never made it out.

For party favors we had plastic fire fighter hats, kazoos, and stuffed Dalmatian dogs.

The Decorations:

For completeness, here's a list of the decorations that I found to help round out the theme.  Fire hydrant cupcake stand, fire department napkins, fire table cloth, fire fighter hanging swirls.

Max had such a wonderful time at his party and we were so pleased with how it all turned out.  A big thank you to our friends, Candace, Rayna, Kyle, Jeff, and Amanda who helped with setup and cleanup.  

For the full set of pictures (and in much better color, thanks Google) make the jump HERE.  Also check out Max and his little friends singing Happy Birthday HERE.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Grammy and Papa Visit

The season of craziness continues.

Last week Grandma (Grammy) and Papa Stortz came to visit, Mommy and Daddy got a few nights out, and Max and Jesse got spoiled rotten.  We really had such a good time and Max is really at the age where he loves to engage with the grandparents.  Which, in turn, is exhausting for the grandparents.  Ha!  I think they need a vacation from their vacation.

Some highlights from the week include:

Friday: Max, Mommy, Grammy, Papa took a trip to Golden Gate Park 
and the Cal Academy of Sciences

Jesse loves the scooter while playing at the Tilden Train park

Concrete slides at Golden Gate Park are terrifying.  Max loved it.

Art time.  Max and Grandma love to play art.

Hocus Pocus!

Happy family before Mommy and Daddy disappeared for the night.  
(Date Night!)

Little train at Tilden Park

More Magic!

Jesse wanted to get in on the action.

Grammy's scooter is so cool.  Look, no hands.

Grandma and Max read books at night.  

Getting a family picture is nearly impossible these days.

"I want a present"  And our children are now spoiled.

Two thumbs up.  This kid is a bench kid!

Outside the California Academy of Sciences.  Water!