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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

seven / fifty two

Hayes, 4 years: ...it's started. Big brother is too cool for little brother. Or, he's over him messing with his beloved Octonauts and Lego creations, at least! These signs (courtesy of his scribe, Grandma Nini) adorn his door, which remains closed. When Greyson gets into something of his, Hayes will exclaim, "Seriously Grey?!", which sadly I think he may have picked up from his mama ;-(

Greyson, 15 months: ...I took him to his very first music class this week at Toddle Tunes, where we used to take Hayes. Kid was a little apprehensive about what was going on and a little unsure about the tiny humans his age who were there for him to play with, but I think he'll warm up to it the more we go and it's nice to have something to do that's just for him. And he of course, loved the bubbles!

Chanel: ...turning another year older tomorrow (sigh) but am celebrating in style on Friday evening with a dinner date with my luv at chef Curtis Stone's new resto, Maude. Menu is prix fixe and the ingredient of the month is fennel. And to get ready for the evening, I'm indulging in a blow-out at my house (compliments of my older sister Jess) through a new app-based company called GLAMSQUAD. Can't wait!

Grant: ...has been in San Francisco all week for a big conference and we're looking forward to his return tomorrow. Somehow, his uber account is linked to my phone, so I've been watching him buzz about town, ending his evenings in the wee hours of the morning, hours after I've gone to sleep (in his defense, I got into bed last night at 8:45pm - it was glorious!). Let's just say, we're having very different weeks!

Monday, March 2, 2015


Came across this amazingly honest, funny and perfect article explaining how to raise your child:

So many of the writer's points ring true, but I especially like these ones:

For Greyson: "Let’s tell him that we had hoped he’d be a girl, and when we found out he was a boy, we were shocked at how it really doesn’t matter what he is, just that he’s ours. (Let’s tell him that it was silent in that room for a minute though, because god damn if we didn’t have a hell of a name for him if he was a her.)"

For them both: "Let’s tell him to be a gentleman when he meets girls and falls in love with all 4,302 of them that cross his path. To treat them well and to be as overly emotional as his father. Let’s tell him to be a gentleman to gentlemen if that’s what he prefers, too. Let’s tell him that whoever he loves, we love, because he’s our little man no matter what kind of man he becomes. He could like alligators for all we care, but those would be hard to have over for dinner. And they would eat him. Let’s at least warn him about that."

"Let’s teach him about forgiveness. That it’s hard to have, but without it we’re a hot mess of a people. So if that kid steals his basketball? Just be cool about it. That kid probably had his reasons we don’t get."

"Let’s tell him to hold the door open for every person, ever. To talk to the guy at the grocery store, because it’s fun. Let’s tell him to talk to strangers for the most part, because as long as they’re not in the back of a van? Strangers get a bad rap. They’re the joy of your life and you should talk to as many of them as possible. Don’t listen to Sarah from across the street’s mom. That woman is crazy. (This presumes we live across from a girl named Sarah, whose mom will inevitably be batshit.)"

For Mama: "Let’s play music for him everyday. Every last song we’ve ever liked. Let’s sing in the kitchen and the shower and the bath with him, and tell him that it’s something you should never forget to do."

For Daddy: "Let’s teach him that he only likes the Giants, 49ers and Warriors. Let’s tell him that the only people that like the Dodgers are people that smell like poop. Does he want to smell like poop? Yeah. Didn’t think so."

For us: "Let’s always listen when he talks, even when it annoys us. Let’s pretend that every little thing he says his magic, even if he’s just explaining a stick to us. Let’s always remember what a freaking gift that little man is. That you and I made him together. That he’s us."

And most importantly: "Let’s laugh when he farts. And cry when he cries sometimes. Let’s teach them that everything is okay, even when it’s not."


Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is Childhood: Four

My baby boy is four today. Where oh where has the time gone? I couldn't be prouder of the young man he is becoming and thank my lucky stars every day that he is in my life and that I get to play such an important role in his.

So to you Hayzey Badger, This is Childhood, 4:

You were one of the most thoughtful three year olds I'd ever met. You insisted on walking me to my car every morning when I would leave for work, calling out "Drive carefully!" as I pulled out of the driveway. When your dad and I went out at night, you'd do the same, coming around either side of the car and asking us to roll down the window so you could give us a kiss goodbye. You loved to do things with us, constantly wanting to be included in whatever was going on, even if it just meant watching a show in our bedroom when I got ready for work. You were enthusiastic about everything, asking lots of questions and forever curious about why things were the way they were. You never turned down a request for a smooch or a snuggle from your 'ole Mom and greeted and said goodbye to your little buddies with a big hug and kiss as well. You loved when your dad went away on business because it meant that you could have a sleepover with me, but understood (for the most part) that a bed was made for two people, not three, so would end up sleeping on our floor a couple nights a month when you'd wake up in the middle of the night. Your favorite color was still green. Your favorite food was breakfast for dinner - you loved scrambled eggs and pancakes and always insisted on a reload on the maple syrup. You always wished for Christmas trees. You would spend hours watching unboxing videos on youtube and would reenact them yourself at the kitchen table. You went through phases with your choice of shows throughout your third year, with the main pleasers being Doc McStuffins, Peppa Pig, Curious George and your latest obsession, the Octonauts. You would dance and sing to the intro of whatever you were watching and make me pause it while you ran to get your props (your tool kit, for instance, when you watched Handy Manny). You still wanted to be a doctor for babies and when someone hurt themselves, you'd run to your room and take out your doctor's kit to make it all better. Speaking of making it all better, when you hurt yourself, you immediately insisted on a bandaid (even when there was no visible mark) and a few minutes with an ice patch could cure any bump or bruise. An unpleasant experience with a splinter made you unreasonably fearful of tweezers. You called balloons "ba-moons" and said "I lub you" instead of I love you. You played nicely with your brother (for the most part), including him in what you were doing and trading toys with him if he insisted on playing with something you didn't want him to have. When he was around your friends, at soccer or at school, you'd stand next to him, protective and holding his hand, making sure everyone knew he was your brother. You loved school, always asking when you could stay for "more fun" (enrichment). Your best friend was Theo Brown, who you called "Feo". You guys loved nothing more than pretending to bake pies together. There was no one in life who you loved more than your Grandma Nini, who spoiled you absolutely rotten. You loved to go to Starbucks and order chocolate milk to go with your chocolate croissant. You weren't a huge fan of vegetables, but we could get you to eat a couple of bites - you loved to make a big spectacle about how the veggies were making you grow and would stand up tall on the kitchen table bench, saying, "look at me! I'm growing!". You loved to say, "Look what I'm up to! I'm up to sum-ping! {something}" when you knew you were doing something you shouldn't be. You were hard to say no to as I couldn't bear seeing you sad and wanted to give you everything your heart desired. At night, after talking about our favorite parts of the day, I'd sit in there and rub your back until you'd fall asleep, looking at your calm, still, perfect face and wondering how it was that you were already such a big guy and how lucky I was to get to be your mama.

Tonight, we'll go to our traditional birthday dinner at Factor's (or "Factorys" as Hayes likes to call it) and open up some pressies before I jet off to school for a parenting workshop, which they always seem to schedule on Hayes' birthday for whatever reason!

We had his birthday party last weekend at Joey's Gym, which was a huge success. Kids had a ball, parents got to socialize and although it cost us a small fortune, it was well worth it to not have to deal with having everyone at the house so it was money well spent. I tried to capture some photos, but those monkeys were all over the place so here's the best I've got!:

Favors: Curious George books with personalized thank you tags, displayed in a CG lunchbox...
Personalized thank you tags I got here...
Cups and plates to make yellow hats!
The kids being entertained - and Greyson holding his own!
So active, literally all of the shots I could get of the kids were blurry!
The original three amigos, Ollie, Gavin and Hayes...
Hayes and his new lady love, Payton...

Next time, I'll reconsider the noise-makers...
The best family picture we could get of the crazy day!
Happy birthday, buddy. Mama lubs you with all her heart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

six / fifty two

Hayes, age 3 years (for the last day!): ...when he's doing something he shouldn't be doing, he exclaims, "Look what I'm up to! I'm up to sum-ping {something}!". Literally asking to get caught!

Greyson, age 15 months: ...he loves to do things for you. Anything. If you ask him to throw something away in the garbage, no matter where you are in the house, he'll walk all the way to the kitchen and throw it in the garbage there. Yep, that can keep him busy for awhile!

Chanel: ...with the big 3-4 looming around the corner, I decided to incorporate toner into my beauty routine. I've been using Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner and am obsessed. Not only do I love the refreshing rose petal scent, I'm already noticing a difference in the quality of my skin. And it is an added, but affordable luxurious step of my nighttime routine (which let's be honest, I loathe. Nothing worse than falling asleep on the couch, only to have to peel yourself off of it to go get ready for bed for 15 minutes - us women have it rough!). This makes it a little more bearable ;-)

Grant: ...the tech guru of the family has been featured in USA Today's "Faces of Silicon Beach" and we couldn't be prouder! The series showcases the folks behind websites and apps being built in Los Angeles. He was also part of a #TalkingTech Roundtable podcast last week - check it out here!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

five / fifty two

Hayes, age 3 years, 11 months: ...He's discovered the joy of riding a bike and will take his tricycle on spins around the neighborhood, asking for "boosts" and pedaling as fast as his little legs can carry him. It makes me so happy seeing him so excited to ride his bike - some of my fondest childhood memories are of riding my bike around Rosedale; I'd spend hours on that thing. Thinking we need to upgrade soon to a two-wheeler with training wheels - luckily little man has a birthday coming up - any grandparents feel like splurging? ;-)

Greyson, age 15 months: ...continues to amaze us with his expanding vocabulary. He now has a handful of words, but the cutest one to me is when he says Hayes' name, which comes out quietly with a very pronounced s: 'Heee-s'. Also, this happened, which was hilarious:

Chanel: ...officially began the elementary school tours this morning, starting with Overland Elementary for Advanced Studies, which would be our neighborhood school if we end up building the new house (oh yeah, that's still miraculously alive and very well).  I was pleasantly surprised, not knowing exactly what to expect - but let's just say the other two I have scheduled have a lot to live up to.

Grant: ...has been practicing his latest Bucket-List-Challenge: becoming a balloon artist. He plans on making balloon animal monkeys at Hayes' Curious George themed birthday party this weekend, which should be interesting!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

1st Souffle Success!

Not to toot my own horn (well kind of - toot! toot!), but I tackled the souffle this weekend and sort of killed it ;-)

Hubs was making a lobster meal for our Valentine's feast so I decided I needed to step up the dessert game and make something impressive. Souffles are always a hit on dessert menus (the fact that you need to order them 30 minutes in advance creates an unrivaled anticipation and the presentation when a dramatically high souffle is delivered to the table is quite something) so I scoured the world wide webs for the perfect recipe and got to work.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to do a whole lot of prep immediately before the meal b/c of the kids and I knew I didn't want to be making the damn thing while I was supposed to be enjoying dinner with my luv, so the key was finding a recipe I felt confident I could make ahead of time, then popping it in the oven during dinner so it would be ready when we finished.

I stumbled upon this very informative article about making souffles and decided that this gal was the souffle expert so I decided to use her recipe and meticulously follow her detailed advice.

What I learned from the experience is this:
- souffles can be made ahead of time. Just mix the batter up the day before and put the whole thing in the fridge (inverted bowl on top) until a couple hours before you want to bake it, when you should remove and bring to room temperature.

Souffle batter with inverted bowl...
 - while you're planning ahead, put the buttered, sugared souffle dish(es) in the fridge. Right before you want to bake it, pour batter into chilled souffle dish and pop into oven.
- separate your eggs when they're still chilled, but use room temperature eggs when you're doing the mixing. And don't overmix your egg whites into the batter!

A nice, stiff egg white is key...
Folding in the egg white into the batter...
Better to leave some white streaks than overmix...
 - use an oven thermometer to ensure you're at the correct temperature. I followed AmberLee's advice and pre-heated to 400, then brought the temperature down to 375 when I put the souffle in (caveat here though, I actually increased the temp back up to 400 for the last 5 minutes of baking as it was taking a little longer than expected, so I baked mine at 375 for 34 minutes and 400 for 4 minutes for a total of 39 minutes. My advice? Start checking at 24 and add 5 minute increments of time until top is crusty and center still jiggles a bit).
The finished product! Add some creme fraiche and dig in!
 - move oven rack to lowest position and place souffle dish on there. I read a tip that bottom rack is what you want to use to achieve lift so for anything light and airy that needs to rise, bake from the bottom.
- tie a piece of parchment paper around the souffle dish so your souffle doesn't topple over when it's rising. Also, place the souffle dish on a baking sheet in case any batter spills over the side.

- be prepared to eat the souffle immediately when it's done. The whole thing can deflate quickly and while it'll still be delicious, isn't part of the point of souffles the presentation?!

After a full lobster feast, this is the best we could do. Souffles are probably better for a bigger crowd so I'll be saving this badboy to use for a dinner party down the road... 

Hope my souffle tips make the task a little less daunting for you! It was well worth the time and effort (especially since it was able to be made ahead of time) and as you can tell, I was quite proud of myself!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Love

I'm in love with Valentine's Day - not because I give or receive fancy presents (G and I implemented a no-gift V Day policy years ago when we decided to put the money we would spend on each other towards an annual weekend away in SF. That lasted a few years and then babies came along so now we just don't give each other anything...), but because I think it's nice to have a Hallmark holiday that reminds us of why we love those that are special in our lives and gives us an excuse to eat a bit more chocolate than usual ;-)

Valentine's is especially fun once you have kids who go to schools that have Valentines parties. An excuse to create something crafty!

And while Hayes is in the short-lived in-between not caring what he's giving his friends and insisting on cheap Spongebob Squarepants generic cards (I shudder at the thought!), I fully intend on capitalizing on my ability to make his Valentines for him.

I alluded to my plans in 'My Loves' last week, but here is the final product:

I 'mustache' you to be my Valentine!

Cute, eh?

I used free printables I found here.

Mounted them to red and pink construction paper with some good old fashioned school glue.

Then used these adorable Spritz felt mustache stickers I stumbled upon at Target ($1.50/pack - score!) to fill in the blanks.

No Valentines is complete without a little chocolate so I got out the old mustache molds from Hayes' 1st birthday party and created some chocolate 'stache pops to finish the sentiment.

Finally, Hayes signed them with his trademark 'H' and I filled in the rest of his name ;-)

The kids loved them and I was quite pleased with the final product.

Hope you all have a great Valentine's Day with your loved ones!


ps - I didn't mean to make our non-gift giving V Day ritual sound so sad. My favorite part of Valentines Day is probably the most romantic thing my hubby does for the whole year - he surprises me with a single rose, usually on my car or like this morning, in bed after letting me catch a few more zzzzzs, a tradition he's been holding up since we were 17 and celebrated our first Valentine's Day together in Surrey, UK ;-)

This year's Valentine's bonus was a lovely handmade card I received from the other two Valentines in my life:

 Did you know today was also Poop Day?!