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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?!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

four / fifty two

Hayes, age 3 years, 11 months: ...For his 4th birthday, we decided we'd start giving him a small allowance every week to teach him the value of money and encourage him to help out around the house a little more. Just some small stuff - cleaning up his toys, making his bed in the morning, moving his plate from the dinner table to the sink when he's finished with a meal. And by small allowance, I'm talking a couple bucks (although Daddy thought we should start with $5 - big spender!) - nothing crazy. I explained the concept of an allowance to Hayes briefly the other day and his eyes lit up when he realized having his own money would enable him to buy treats at Walgreens whenever he wanted (he would no longer be restricted to looking for "Han-kuh and Chwistmas pwesents" in February). So the other day, when he's helping me unload the dishwasher (score 1 for Mama!), he says to me "Look Mama, I'm making money!". Ha!

Greyson, age 15 months: His vocabulary is exploding, which is strange for us since Hayes didn't start really talking until he was almost two. This kid has phrases, people - AT 15 MONTHS! The latest in his cuteness overload is when he moves his fingers around and squeals "tick-a! tick-a! tick-a!", as he moves in on you for a tickle sesh. I.die.

Chanel: ...I'm in full planning mode for Hayzey's birthday party next weekend. We decided to make it easy on ourselves and not do it at the house so we're shelling out the big bucks and doing it at a local gym instead (the money is well worth being off the hook for the clean up!). Unfortunately, we still have to plan the food, etc... for 50 people - oy.

Grant: Just returned from a couple day business trip to NYC. Although I enjoyed my sleepovers with Hayes while he was gone, we're all happy to have Daddy back ;-) Since we're using our weekly babysitter (thanks Nini!) to go out tomorrow night for a good friend's birthday, we're staying in on Valentine's Day (how grown up of us!) and Grant's making a lobster feast. My contribution: taking a stab at these babies. Hope they turn out okay!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

three / fifty two

Hayes, age 3 years, 11 months: ...we recently gave him a new toddler clock, one that glows blue throughout the night and when morning arrives, it changes to a soft yellow light. The idea being that perhaps this would help him understand when morning comes during these winter months when the sun likes to sleep in a little, too. Unfortunately, he figured out how to change the clock from blue to yellow, which he does every morning when he wakes up before he comes into our room... including this morning, at 5:53am when our day started. Joy.

Greyson, age 14 months: ...when I pulled him away from washing his hands in the toilet the other night and scowled at him, he looked up at me and scowled right back, imitating the sound that had just come from my throat. Kid is a sponge, I tell you! (and a dirty one, at that!)

Chanel & Grant: ...we've spent the last 3 months trying to sell our house in order to move forward with a new build in a more desirable neighborhood. After two lucrative offers and lots of back and forth with the agents who were representing the sale of our current home and the purchase of the new home, we seem to have come to a dead end and I think we're officially moving on. We're both disappointed, to say the least; not only because we realize the amount of money we've lost from not selling our house, but also because of the amount of time and effort we put into trying to make this work (not to mention the excitement of potentially building a new house from the ground up). 

This morning, I pulled out a purse from the closet that I guess I haven't used in some time to take to work and when I was going through it, I came across our room key from our babymoon to Hawk's Cay in the Florida Keys. When we were on our babymoon, we were in the process of buying our current house (the first time) and had received some disheartening news which made us think it wasn't going to work out. And it did. So, while I'm not taking this as a sign that we are going to move forward with the plans we've been discussing for this house, I am taking it as a sign that all will work out, we'll find something better and we won't be living on top of each other in this house forever ;-)

And if moving to a bigger house in LA isn't in the cards anytime soon, consider yourselves lucky, dear readers, for you might just be visiting us at our vacation home in Lake Arrowhead sooner than you thought!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My loves...

It's been far too long since I shared some of 'My Loves' (just looked and the last one was in September 2013 - wowzas!) so I've rounded up some of my current favorites for your reading enjoyment...

Valentines Day is around the corner and Pinterest is abuzz with creative Valentine's for your littles... I've got something up my sleeve that I intend on bringing to life this weekend with Hayes for his school's Valentine's Day party next week...

I recently dipped my toes into the world of podcasts and my thirty minute commute was instantly changed. I looked forward to getting into my car and when the podcast was over, I found myself bored with the standard radio I'd been listening to. While I anxiously await the second installment of Serial, I decided to make better use of my time in the car and am now listening to books. First up is Unbroken and so far, I'm really enjoying it. I love how I can essentially be reading two books at the same time by listening to one and reading the other. Grant and I may even do a book club type thing and listen to the same books, taking turns choosing the novel (I'm determined to make him a reader one way or another!).

When we were in DC last month at my sister's, we had one of those meal deliveries for dinner one night. The pre-portioned spices and ease of throwing what would normally be a complicated recipe together intrigued me and I wanted to give it a try so when Gilt Group had a special on plated a few weeks ago, I purchased the deal. Now we just need to choose a week with yummy sounding recipes and give it a go! Will report back on what we thought when we're finished.

We've spent the last couple of months thinking we might be moving to a new house, so the design ideas have been flowing. Now it looks as though that probably won't be happening (more on that later), but I still long to change up some of the rooms in our house, including our guest bedroom and Hayzey's room (kid needs a bigger bed stat!). I've got my eye on some adorable marquee letter lights I found and would love to get an H and a G for the boys' rooms. (Of course, as luck would have it, they're currently sold out of those letters - le sigh!).

Stumbled upon this article the other day and it really hit home. With all the mommy wars about the best way to parent, it's something to remember - we're all in it for the same reason and at the end of the day, everyone just wants what's best for their child (but PLEASE vaccinate, you crazy lunatics!).
A very well written article that's worth the read...