Sunday, July 27, 2008

California - Part 1

We just returned from a wonderful week in California, visiting my aunt and her family. We had a wonderful time, but we were exhausted when we got back. We took the red-eye flight home...need I say more. We did it for Olivia. We specifically planned both flights during the night so that she would sleep on the plane, and she did just that! She handled the trip very well and I think she had fun too. I will say that traveling with a toddler is not easy. We were limited to the types of activities that we could do. Olivia is not exactly into shopping and touring wineries at this time, so we sacrificed many of the adult activities so that Olivia could enjoy her trip. I am splitting our vacation into two separate blog posts. There is just too much to tell and show in one post, so here's Part 1.

Above is the beautiful view from my aunt's home in lovely Aptos, California. It is about one hour south of San Francisco. As you can tell she is very close to the ocean, which makes for an amazing view from her balcony. Since we were pretty tired on our first full day in California we took it easy. It was a nice sunny day so we decided to take a long walk by the beach. Olivia has had her little toes in the sand once before...last year when we were visiting. She wasn't walking yet so this was her first time to actually walk in sand. She stood still at first before finally taking some steps. I think it felt weird on her feet. She got comfortable very quickly and was even brave enough to walk down by the water.

Now it usually takes Olivia a little while to warm up to people that she does not know very well. Although she has seen her Great Aunt Sue Sue quite a few times, she does not get to see her very often since she lives in California. Well it never takes Olivia more than a second to warm up to her Aunt Sue Sue. By the time we got into the car at the airport they were best friends.

The following day we visited a cute little town called Los Gatos. We had lunch and attempted to visit a few shops. Olivia quickly let us know that shopping was not on the agenda so we had to move on. We were able to visit a few wineries in the area with the help of my trusty portable DVD player and my wonderful Cousin Justin who helped to keep Olivia occupied...Bless him!

On Sunday morning we took a drive to the most amazing fresh fruit and vegetable market. This area of California is one of the biggest producers of most of the fruits and veggies you buy in the stores...and in my opinion the best strawberries in the county! Because everything is grown in the area you can buy it very cheap. It is all so yummy and very good for you! We all ate a lot of fruit that week! We also stopped to see the local camel...yes, I said camel. There is a farmhouse on one of the side roads which is home to a camel. My aunt took us to see it thinking Olivia would like it. When we first arrived the camel was at the other end of the fenced-in field. We started calling to him and he immediately came over.

He was not shy! In fact, he was a little too friendly and came a little too close for comfort. Check out my Mom trying to escape before the camel attempts to make out with her!

What I did not catch was my aunt trying to get away and almost falling into the ditch behind her. Needless to say that was all it took for Olivia to decide that she was not a fan of the camel. It was interesting to see a camel that close up though. The question I cannot answer is why someone would want one as a pet?

In the afternoon we visited the Santa Cruz pier. It is a fun little town that is only minutes from Aptos. It was a chilly day but the sun was shining and the sea lions were in action. The pier is known for all of the sea lions that like to hang out underneath. They lay on the wood planks and swim around playing with one another. We were lucky enough to see quite a few of them.

As we were walking the pier Olivia decided that she would rather get out and walk than sit in her stroller. The pier was very busy and I was worried about her falling off so I insisted that she stay in her stroller. She was not pleased and decided that she was done with the pier. We all witnessed one of a couple of different tantrums she had during the trip. Olivia is on a different schedule than everyone else and she tires of activities much faster. This is the face that we usually see when she is no longer happy doing what everyone else is doing.

As we were leaving we noticed a bunch of sea lions resting on a dock off the side of the pier. As we got closer we saw that there were babies resting with their parents. There was a ton of them but my attention went towards the sweetness of this sea lion napping with her three little babies. How cute is this?

So that is the first half of our trip. There are still a few fun things I want to share, but I am going to save that for my next post. Before I wrap things up I want to share a few family pictures. Since we were always so busy we would forget to stop and take some shots of us with Olivia. Olivia is still at the age where she prefers not to pose for pictures, so we tried our best.

Olivia and her Daddy at the Aptos beach boardwalk

Olivia and her Nana on the Santa Cruz pier

Our attempt at a family picture on the Santa Cruz pier

Check back soon to see our trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, our day at the beach and Olivia, the pianist in action!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the simple things

Ahhhh...the simple joys of childhood. One of the best things about being a mother is being able to relive my childhood (in a way) through Olivia. Watching her experience things for the first time and take such joy in everything she does is so great! Over the summer, so far, we have tried to do as many fun things as possible, giving Olivia the opportunity to experience many different things. We have also been spending time with family and friends, which allows Olivia to get to know lots of other people. She really enjoys playing with other children. Over the fourth of July weekend we were very busy and she was able to play with lots of kids.

These are Olivia's friends Hayden and Simon. They are brother's and they are the sons of my very close friend Korrie. (The older boy, Hayden, is our godson). Olivia has always taken a liking to these boys. She calls them "Haydee and Simy". She thinks that everything they do is hilarious and she loves nothing more than chasing after them and watching them do boy stuff. She had the best time at the cookout and even ate her dinner at an actual kids table. Afterwards they all enjoyed popsicles on a hot summer evening. So cute!

That weekend we also made another trip to the zoo, this time with our friend Jason and his daughter Emily. The girls had fun running around the zoo together. Emily is about a year and a half older than Olivia, but they still enjoy playing together. Most of Olivia's little friends are boys so it is good to have a nice girlfriend to play with too. Emily and her parents recently moved back to Fort Wayne from Colorado and we are so happy they are back. We look forward to watching the girls grow up together.

It has been pretty hot lately so we have been spending lots of time at Uncle VJ's pool. Olivia recently got a new swim vest and we had to try it out. She is quite brave when wearing the vest and does not hesitate at all to just jump right in. I am always there to catch her of course, but she sure is confident in the water.

On the days when it is just too hot to be outside we enjoy some indoor time. Olivia loves watching Sesame Street and I caught her in the cutest position on the floor, enjoying her favorite show. Sometimes it is nice to take a break and have some quiet time. As you know it is a rare sight to see Olivia sitting still! Can you see her cute ponytail?

Well as I have mentioned before Olivia is growing at lightening speed. Not so much in weight and height but in so many other ways. She is putting many words together which makes it so easy to communicate. She also started jumping. She loves to try to march, jump and kick, but this week she started jumping with both feet coming off the ground at the same time. I know it is a strange milestone to report, but it is so darn cute when she does it. She has also started saying, "I love you". I will tell you there is nothing better than to hear those three wonderful words from your child. It just melts my heart!

It has been a fun, busy summer so far and there is still more fun to be had. I am enjoying this age so much and taking such joy in watching Olivia enjoy the simple things in life.

Monday, July 07, 2008

who's your daddy?

I have a cute little story I must share with you. Our Olivia is so sharp these days. She doesn't miss a beat. When she did this last week I could not help but laugh.

Todd and I have a basket in our family room where we keep discarded newspapers and magazines before we throw them into the recycling bin outside. Last week a copy of my Entertainment Weekly was lying on top of the pile. As Olivia was running into the family room she stopped dead in her tracks, pointed to the magazine cover and said, "Daddy!" This the magazine cover that caught her attention...

So yes, this is The Rock (AKA Dwayne Johnson)...not Todd, or "Daddy" as Olivia seemed to think. But I can totally understand why she would have thought this could be her daddy on the cover. He is of Hawaiian heritage, very similar to Todd, so I can see why Olivia may have thought this was her daddy. Hey, there are worse people to be compared to, I guess. He ain't bad lookin', that's for sure! It was a funny moment, that made me smile and realize what a smarty pants Miss Olivia can be. The Rock...Daddy...Olivia may not know the difference on paper, but she sure knows who her daddy is in real life!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

home sweet home

Check out Olivia's newest toy! She now has her very own play house. We have been wanting to get one for her for awhile...ever since we saw how much she enjoyed playing in one at a friend's house. Surprisingly, Todd and I have been putting off spending the $130 it would cost to buy a new one (can you blame us?). It seemed really hard to spend that kind of money on something that she may tire of very quickly (you never know with Olivia these days). Well a few weekends ago Todd was taking Olivia for a walk and they came across a wonderful, used play house at a neighborhood garage sale. It was quite dirty but was being sold for $25! After seeing Olivia's eyes light up we knew we had to get it. Not to mention, the $25 price tag was very appealing!

My Mom, Todd and I spent about two hours scrubbing this house with bleach from top to bottom. (I cannot explain how dirty it was!). After we were done it looked like new! We were thrilled with our used, bargain play house that would give Olivia just as much pleasure as a brand new, expensive play house. She doesn't know the difference...she's just happy to have one to play with.

She loves going inside and closing the door behind her saying, "bye-bye mommy!". She then peeks her head out of the windows and says, "hi, mommy!" We put a little chair inside for her and she enjoys pretending to wash her hands in the sink. Her attention span with the house usually lasts about 5 minutes so I am even more grateful that we did not end up having to spend a fortune on one. We recently landscaped a corner of our backyard and made it into a little playground for Olivia's toys. Her house fits in the area perfectly and there is even space left for her slide. I think she likes having her own little play area.

So our summer has still been packed with one activity after another. Olivia is handling the busy schedule very well but it sure is wearing her out. She welcomes bedtime with open arms. I am so lucky to have a child that enjoys sleep as much as she does. We are still amazed by her growing vocabulary. She is using so many little phrases and sentences lately. I knew she was going to be an early talker, but I never thought that I would be able to almost fully communicate with my daughter by the time she was 1 1/2 years old.

Her imagination has been growing as well. She likes to do things such as go shopping with her grocery cart, feed her stuffed animals pretend food and give them the chance to use the potty. Since she has been showing interest in using the potty lately we have been doing things to help her become more comfortable with whole idea. She has backed away from using the potty herself lately. She was really into it for a few weeks, but now she prefers to go in her diaper and tell me as soon as she has done the deed. So now instead of Olivia using the potty Elmo has been using the potty. She likes to sit him on the potty seat and do flashcards with him. That is what we do with her when she sits on the potty so I guess it is only fair that Elmo gets the same treatment. How cute is this?

So my Mom just returned from being gone for a full week. Needless to say she was dying to see Olivia and Olivia had missed her Nana terribly! My Mom went to Michigan to visit my Grandma Cleo...or "Keo" as Olivia calls her...and she brought her back to Fort Wayne to spend the holiday weekend with us. My Uncle will join us for the weekend and take grandma back to Michigan after the holiday. Grandma Cleo loves spending time with Olivia. She is just amazed by everything she does. She brought Olivia a gift...her first, very own baby doll. She loves it! I will post pictures after the weekend that show her with the doll. The way she takes care of it is just so sweet!

Hope everyone enjoys the 4th of July weekend!