Category Archives: Holiday

2014 a year in review

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2014 a year in review

My youngest baby turned one!

Monster boy!

Monster boy!

My oldest turned four!

Rainbow curtain and a huge Pinky Pie balloon

My Little Emery

We visited the beach

Cambria, Ca.

Cambria, Ca.

We drove to the mountains

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Sequoia National Park, Ca. [[Carlos’ first time]]

The kids were asked to be part of a possible ad campaign

We had a family photo shoot for a possible ad with JetKat Photography

JetKat Photography

 

We surprised Great Grandparents in San Jose

Great Grandma & Great Grandpa Zack & Cousin Daniel

Great Grandma & Great Grandpa Zack & Cousin Daniel

Mommy got to introduce us to some of her San Jose friends from high school finally

Jessica, Stephen & Marcus

Jessica, Stephen & Marcus

We visited The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles

Us inside a tar bubble

Us inside a tar bubble

Our first time at the Los Angeles Zoo!

We love zoo's

We love zoo’s

 

We visited Great Grandma Mami Chela in Los Angeles for her birthday

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We visited the Natural History Museum for the first time and we loved it!

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We went to Apple Hill to get one or two pumpkins

A few of the pumpkins we picked out.

Here’s just a few …

 

Took our yearly Family photo

Our 2014 Family photo

Our 2014 Family photo

 

Took the kids to the state capitol

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

 

Visited Great Grandma Mary . . .

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Grandpa Max …

 

Grandpa Max and the kids

Grandpa Max and the kids

And Grandma Andrea while we were in Sacramento!

Grandma Andrea

Grandma Andrea

 

Celebrated Halloween and mommy slaved over making Carlos’ Mad Hatter outfit and his hat

Mini costume Alice In Wonderland photo shoot at a local pumpkin patch

Alice In Wonderland photo shoot at a local pumpkin patch

 

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year

What were you thankful for this year?

What were you thankful for this year?

And celebrated Christmas at Great Grandma & Papa Joe’s house

Waiting for Santa

Waiting for Santa

It was a busy year with trips to our local zoo and park in between. This is Emery’s last year spending all day with us before school and we’re trying to make it extra fun for her.

2014 was a good year for us, we had our usual ups and downs that come with life but this mommy can’t complain! Everyone is healthy and our loved ones are with us. I’m happy to share my adventures of parenting these two little ones and document our travels around the Golden State of California. A big thank you to all of my readers out there! I wouldn’t be doing these if I didn’t have the support I do.

Hope everyone has a healthy, happy, joyful and blessed new year

Mommylaughs

2014 Christmas

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2014 Christmas

We welcomed December’s cold crisp air and cold nights with hot chocolate. Emery and Carlos decorated the Christmas tree this year while I stood back and watched. Carlos grabbed the ornaments and handed them off to his big sis. The clusters of ornaments together was a signature look that my babies were doing the tree all by themselves.

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Later that night when Carlos was a sleep, Emery helped me make a popcorn garland; I had never made one before and I was excited. We made fresh popped popcorn and I sat on the couch starting to thread. Emery handed me popcorn with puffy tops … and then slowly her hand ended up going from the bowl to her mouth. I didn’t mind, I know she enjoys popcorn and I was just happy to have her company. The garland didn’t take very long and soon we had our very first popcorn master piece, a tribute to my two popcorn monsters.

Emery capturing my hard work

Emery capturing my hard work

The next day we made our wish list for Santa. Emery needed help putting words together, we talked about what she wanted and then I helped her spell it out. Dad was near by on the computer and ordered a few more gifts that were on her list. For Carlos I put down things that he likes-  trains, cars, animals and Diego movies. When the kids were done with their list, I made copies for Santa (so I could keep the original list). We stamped the envelopes and mailed them off to the North Pole!

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I hope Snowie put in an extra good word for us!

I hope Snowie our North Pole elf put in an extra good word for us!

 

In December our special friend Snowie the elf comes back to visit us and watch the kids during the morning as Santa’s little spy. At night he gets into things and the kids wake up in a hurry to find what he got into or where in the house he is. Emery was especially excited to see him! His antics were a hit with the kids and when Carlos was cranky Emery would give him Snowie to sleep with and Carlos snuggled him safe. 

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A few of Snowie’s tricks at night were admiring Em’s drawing of him

 

I agree! Great job Emery!

I agree! Great job Emery!

Snowie made Emery and Carlos into little tree elves

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Snowie was leader of his own sleigh, thanks to the help of a few dinosaurs, animals and a My Little Pony.

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He got into the kids underwear and decorated the tree with them.

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And one night he bothered the kids while they were sleeping . . .

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Last minute I had the idea of making an ugly Christmas sweater for Carlos. I spent nights sowing little trinkets like small plastic ornaments, ball puffs, garland, gift bow and we topped it off with a Christmas light necklace.

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Every year for holidays I like to make something using the kids foot print or hand print as a size reminder of how much smaller the kids were the year before. The kids dipped their foot and hand in some flour and placed it on felt. I use flour to make a print of the hands and feet instead of tracing an outline. I find the kids are more willing to get dirty and stamp their hand on something rather than holding their hand down and trying to trace around it. The flour is also more accurate, to the actual size.

flour

flour

outlining the flour print

outlining the flour print

Emery's little reindeer hand

Emery’s little reindeer hand

Emery & Carlos' feet. Little penguins hand sown by mommy

Emery & Carlos’ feet. Little penguins hand sown by mommy

The week of Christmas we did a mini photo shoot in front of the Christmas tree and fireplace. Taking photos of the kids was kind of difficult, things don’t always go as planned but its even harder when I’m shooting at night with no flash, every little movement from me or the kids turned the photo into a blur. I tend to shoot fast and I often neglect the background whether its straight or crooked. I think even when I shoot slow I have that problem.

Looking for Santa

Looking for Santa

Drinking Santa's milk

Drinking Santa’s milk

Waiting for Santa

Waiting for Santa

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day at Great Grandma Mary’s and Papa Joe’s house. We had traditional tamales with pork and olives. Christmas day we went back to celebrate their Dad’s birthday and enjoy some homemade menudo amongst lots of delicious sweets.

Great Papa joe & Great Grandma Mary

Great Papa Joe & Great Grandma Mary

Papa giving a piggy back ride & getting a kiss from the great grandkids

Papa giving a piggy back ride & getting a kiss from the great grandkids

Carlos had a very “train-y” Christmas and made out with lots of Thomas the Train toys. And Emery got a karaoke machine and lots of songs and movies.

Carlos the conductor

Carlos the conductor

choo choo

choo choo

Disney karaoke!

Disney karaoke!

Opening gifts at Grandma & Papa's

Opening gifts at Grandma & Papa’s

 

I’m blessed and thankful it was another year with all of our family in our lives and the kids were able to share traditions that I grew up with and to have so much love in the house.

 

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2014 Thanksgiving – A reason to be thankful

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2014 Thanksgiving – A reason to be thankful

To be honest I wasn’t going to write anything about our Thanksgiving. Whats to be said, we cooked, we ate and we regretted it all. Then I thought about what the day actually meant. Not the literal historic image that my 11-year-old brother just learned about and made sure we all knew of the slaughter; but the day to really take it in and be thankful for something.
While Valerie was in town we watched many episodes of, “Rehab Addict”. We both had seen the episodes on Netflix a few times already but who really gets tired of watching the “Ha-Ha” house being restored to its original roots.

Val, Carlos and I took a trip to Home Depot to make a bulletin board. It wasn’t a major renovation but we felt pretty pumped walking into the building. We went into the aisles with ideas, we had the measuring tape, we had the frame and we had spirit!

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At the register an employee asked where baby Carlos was. I think all three of us looked at each other like, “is this really happening?” What are the coincidences of somebody saying that while a baby (man baby of one year) named Carlos was in front of them.

When we got back we quickly went to work, to be honest Valerie really helped a lot with everything. I had the idea but she really put it together. I wanted to spray paint the cork but I didn’t want to wait a day for it to dry, so we taped it in so I could take it out and paint it another day. The kids colored the back of the board and when all was done we hung it above the fireplace with pictures and letters of what the kids were thankful for.

 

Capturing the hard work and fun the kids were creating.

Capturing the hard work and fun the kids were creating.

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The end result of a Thanksgiving mantel and a DIY cork board. I added the turkey hands we made last year and some past and present pictures.

This is pretty accurate of my family. I (mom) lead the craziness, that are my wild children.

This is pretty accurate of my family. I (mom) lead the craziness, that are my wild children.

A few weeks later was Thanksgiving. My husband and I hosted this year, lots of planning and prepping went into the meal. In the 7 years of us being together it was his first time making a turkey. I admit, I thought he was in over his head when it was Sunday and the bird was still in the freezer. He knew what he was doing though, he brined it for 3 days and it was delicious.

With the help of my sister in law Vienna, we made pumpkin crayons. Last time I attempted this my house filled with smoke and I called my husband in a panic. Needless to say I haven’t tried making crayons in a few years! We bounced back a few ideas and Vienna thought of using the blow dryer instead of risking another melted plastic try and smoke alarm fiasco. It was a stroke of genius, and this is what we did:

1. Used a pumpkin ice tray ( I got this one for Halloween at The Dollar Store )

2. TIP cut the crayon pieces as small as you can, use a knife because your fingers will start to hurt once you start making the pieces really small. The smaller the better they melt. You can mix colors but I kept them the same.

Cut your pieces much smaller than these.

Cut your pieces much smaller than these.

4. Put down news paper. I didn’t do this and my tile has melted crayon on it and in the grout.

3. When using the blow dryer the highest heat works and for some reason the two newarest colors will melt faster than the actual color your dryer is hovering over. I got in real close, Be careful when moving the dryer around, the melted wax will splash.

4. When done I put the tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes, make sure the wax is hardened and repeat steps for more crayons.

 

The final product

The final product

 

 

I also made “turkey legs” with left over Halloween candy. Lord knows I don’t need all of that candy in my life, and before the week of Thanksgiving I had gotten back into working out.

Turkey legs! Everyone grab one!

Turkey legs! Everyone grab one!

I love Native American culture and last minute I decided to make some feather headbands. Its the perfect day to get my semi obsession out. I just used some left over foam board from my Halloween outfit this year. I hot glued the “feathers” to head bands. Super easy craft and it made it just a little extra fun.

foam board with gold sharpie outlined.

foam board with gold sharpie outlined.

And last but not lease we had a “Thankful” pumpkin. We asked everyone to write what they were thankful for. Some where funny, most said family and health and then there’s my father who wrote his name on other peoples messages.

What were you thankful for this year?

What were you thankful for this year?

As for me, I pray everyday what I am thankful for. I am blessed and thankful for my family and friends health and our wealth. The wealth may not be much but we have a warm house, clothes and we don’t go hungry. I am blessed to have my family and friends here on Earth with us still. Everyday is uncertain and every time I wake up I am blessed to have each one in my life. I am grateful for my children’s health and how much they grow everyday. Though my children drive me crazy and at the end of each night I am emotionally done I lay in bed so happy they are in my life. I also pray for everyone in the world that they had a great joyful day and if not they have a better one tomorrow. That is just a sample of my gratefulness.

Halloween 2014

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Halloween for us started in early September, the house was all decorated inside and ready for the season before the weather even changed. The outfit planning started a few months before that in summer. I guess you could say, Halloween is kinda a big deal here.
We went through several costume ideas before sticking with the final one. My heart was set on Carlos being Nacho Libre,  but as time went on more ideas came to mind. The tough thing about toddlers and Halloween, is that there’s so many great ideas and it makes it hard to choose! The kids have been in themed costumes that past few years, so want to keep the tradition going while they’re still little and don’t want to be two completely different things.
Since Emery is older I was willing to work around what she wanted. It changed a few times, first she wanted to be Olaf with blood on the side of her mouth (her idea not mine). Then she wanted to be The Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. Of course no where in the known universe of 1 million costume shops did I find a pre made outfit, that began my frantic pinning. If Emery was going to be the Mad Hatter Carlos would be The March Hare. It looked like I would be making two costume outfits.
Luckily Emery decided to be Alice and that moved Carlos up to The Mad Hatter. I only had to make one outfit! I don’t like doing things last-minute so I started everything in September, besides I needed the costume done and bought before our Apple Hill trip in early October.

Before I even got started I was nervous of the task ahead of me. This would be my first time making an outfit. I’ve made a doll outfit before, a few pillows but that was the extent of it. Now I was taking on pants, a vest and a jacket! I figured if it didn’t pan out and worst came to worst Carlos would be in the dark and it was only for one day.

As crazy as that was, my sewing machine wasn’t even working! A month before I tried fixing it with my grandma while watching YouTube videos to no success. My husband (Mr. Fix it via YouTube) tried it and it worked! I had my machine, my cloth, my ideas, now time to try to figure it all out.

 

Those are the hands of man who can google & figure out anything on the web.

Those are the hands of man who can Google & figure out anything on the web.

This is the only photo I have of me making the outfit. I dont know why I didnt take any to blog. Also you may notice I'm bald. I shaved my head and donated it to Locks Of Love. You can check out that video on YouTube @ Valsays [[Antiques & Bald chicks]]

This is the only photo I have of me making the outfit. Unfortunately I didn’t record the process for the blog. Also you may notice I’m bald. I shaved my head and donated it to Locks Of Love. You can check out that video on YouTube @ Valsays [[Antiques & Bald chicks]]

I also had to make the tights the colors I needed  for The Mad Hatter outfit. With this I bought white cotton tights and several Kool-Aid packets.

I used 3 Kool-Aid purples with one different packet

I used 3 Kool-Aid purples with one different packet

& three green apple packets. This was the only green I could find. I dont know why anyone would want to drink this flavor but to each their own.

& three green apple packets. This was the only green I could find. I don’t know why anyone would want to drink this flavor but to each their own.

STEP 1. I put three of the purple packets in a steady boil.

STEP 2. Since I needed each leg a different color I held the other white leg in my hand so that it wouldn’t stain. TIP: turn the tights inside out because in step 4 your tights will lose that color you loved.

STEP 3. Constantly move the tight around so all the color can be even.

STEP 4. When you reach the desired color take out and rinse in cool water and wring it lightly. You don’t want to get all the color out so be careful, it doesn’t have to be in the water that long, maybe 30 seconds at max.

STEP 5. Because we are doing different color legs repeat the from step 1. TIP: I had to get another pot because the color really stuck, so be prepared or save yourself the hassle and just use another pot.

First leg

First leg

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STEP 6. Have a hanger ready to hang your end result. Leave it inside out until it is fully dry. I had mine dry over night and I think they were still a tad damp in the morning.

 

Now lets fast forward about a week of staying up at 3 a.m. every night (because my children are crazy and go to bed at 11) to get the clothes ready and here are the end results.

I'm still in awe that I made this outfit

I’m still in awe that I made this outfit

Mini costume Alice In Wonderland photo shoot at a local pumpkin patch

Mini costume Alice In Wonderland photo shoot at a local pumpkin patch

In these picture you can’t really see the colors on Carlos’ tights, that because I didn’t realize they were so much brighter on the inside until I took them off.
I also made Carlos’ Mad Hatter hat with the help of my husband. I researched on Pinterest how to make the hat and which I would like best. No pictures were taken of that either. If you decide to take on the task of making your own hat, make sure you have plenty of hot glue, some help and plenty of fabric to cover your hat! A staple gun might work better and be faster. Carlos never actually wore his hat, the hat is way too heavy for him and by the time we put all the cardboard in the rim it didn’t fit his head. It’s really nice so we are keeping it for a possible Alice In Wonderland party or a Halloween decoration for next year.

Here are the tights inside out and the hat! As you can see it's pretty big.

Here are the tights inside out and the hat! As you can see it’s pretty big.

 

Emery is really into YouTube tutorials on costume make up, the day before Halloween I was watching one with her and got inspired to be the white rabbit. I didn’t really want to dress up because I didn’t feel like making myself anything but I actually had everything I needed to become the white rabbit, all I needed was white eye liner, to make the ears, foam board and a chain that were at Michael’s (my favorite store ever).

Mom as the White Rabbit

Mom as the White Rabbit

The whole Alice In Wonderland clan!

The whole Alice In Wonderland clan!

Just when we were done taking pictures in the front yard a black car pulled up. Emery thought trick – or – treaters were here. I said, “no trick – or – treaters don’t come in cars”. A few seconds later Nina Valerie came out! I have bad eyesight so I didn’t even know who it was! Not to mention she had just got a new car so I didn’t put two and two together! Val and Vic had planned the surprise a day before and I was totally clueless. I guess I got both tricked and a treat!

My trick & treat!

My trick & treat!

 

 

 

 

Apple Hill 2014

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We waited months for our family vacation, our yearly trip to Apple Hill Ca. This was Carlos’ first time and I was so excited to get all the pumpkins my little hands could grab. The months leading up to the trip, Emery would freak out in the car about her back itching. A 5 minute car ride to Target was a struggle. She would squirm around, freak out, complain, wail and the cherry on top – she would kick the seat behind me. I probably looked like I was having a demon fighting within me, going forward and back violently in the car with an angry face. So many warnings were given about her being good because Grandpa’s house is much farther than Target.
I packed all of the “best of’s” to avoid any problems. I had 3 hours to keep her occupied and one, one year old. Carlos fell asleep right on schedule but woke up pretty early and did good the rest of the way. Emery surprisingly did amazing (shout out time). She had her tablet, a few snacks and she was an angel. I don’t get to say that much often anymore so I’ll say it again, Emery was an angel.

and here we go ...

and here we go …

DAY 1. Thursday –
We stayed at Carlos’ Nina’s parents house in Elk Grove. I hadn’t been to the area in two years, being able to relax for half a day was great and reconnect.

Ozzy and the kids playing in the back yard dirt.

Ozzy and the kids playing in the back yard dirt.

DAY 2. Friday –
Val (Carlos’ Nina) took us out to eat breakfast, on the way Emery got sick. It was a 10 minute drive (with out traffic) and from that little time she got a fever. How this happened I don’t know, but luckily Super Mom packed meds, a thermometer and a first aid kit just in case (toot toot, that’s me tooting my horn).
We hit up a local hipster coffee spot in midtown and then off to my Dad’s house.
Carlos met his great Grandma Mary for the first time and really embraced everyone instead of being shy and off standing.
At night Victor, Valerie and I went out to Capitol Tap Room to have some brews and celebrate our 7 years of being together. It was our first time being away from the kids, doing something more than a nice fast dinner. Luckily, my family was able and willing to watch the kids. I felt like, “ah, this is what adult time feels like”.

Happy 7 year anniversary  xxXooOX

Happy 7 year anniversary
xxXooOX

DAY 3. Saturday –

Apple Hill!! Valerie came with us, it was her first time and we enjoyed her company. She was our official photographer for our yearly family photo.
Emery found her own pumpkin this year and she was really proud of herself.
Carlos fell every opportunity he could in the patch. The red dirt was all over his chest and back. It was pretty funny because he would fall on the floor and dust himself off not caring at all.
I planned to grab a ton of pumpkins while we were there and I think we succeeded, we walked away with 13 awesome and different ones.

After a long day of walking around and trying different ciders we headed back to my dad’s, where my step mom made a pre-thanksgiving dinner. Perfect for a hunger crew!

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I love this picture of Emery & her special pumpkin

I love this picture of Emery & her special pumpkin

A few of the pumpkins we picked out.

A few of the pumpkins we picked out.

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Our 2014 Family photo

Our 2014 Family photo

My Seesta, my friend, my compa.

My Seesta, my friend, my compa.

 

DAY 4. Sunday –

We took the kids to The State Capitol to check it out because, when in Rome. Emery was learning her state capitals a few months ago so she knew Sacramento was the state’s capital, now she was able to see it up close. We went inside, something Victor and I hadn’t done before. Val was our tour guide leading the way to all the rooms available for visitors. We got to see the assembly room, where all the decisions are made. We found a gift shop and picked up two new California children’s books and a magnet for our trip!

At the end of this day I think Victor and I both looked at each other and decided we needed one more day in the city.

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

walking into the lobby inside the Capitol

walking into the lobby inside the Capitol

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looking up at the dome with daddy

looking up at the dome with daddy

Inside the assembly room

Inside the assembly room

When we got home we did some homework on California

When we got home we did some homework on California

 

DAY 5. Monday –
BONUS DAY!!! Also uuber sad day because this was the day we had to leave. We sad goodbye to great grandma Mary and snuck in a few photos. We had lunch with Nina Val one last time. And let me say this, one of my favorite things about the trip was the last meal at The Sandwich Spot. OHMYGAWD so good. so good.

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Carlos would not take a picture with his grandma. She got the great idea of just standing next to him and smiling. It worked.

Carlos would not take a picture with his grandma. She got the great idea of just standing next to him and smiling. It worked.

Grandpa Max and the kids

Grandpa Max and the kids

Grandma Andrea

Grandma Andrea

We said our goodbyes and I stressed all over about the 3 hour road trip home. Emery had to pee 40 minutes into it (how I don’t know because she went before we left), Carlos woke up right away and I was dreading the hours of crying. Luckily everything went smooth and we plan to be back again sooner than later.

Valerie, has a YouTube channel – Valsays and vlogged our trip. So forget everything you just read and watch mini clips of it below.

Surf to Turf, the California experince

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It’s been awhile since I wrote about things, not because I forgot to,  but because I didn’t think there was much to expand on. Then I started thinking about all the little things that have been going on. This is that update.
On a whim we took a day trip to the beach. In the hot valley heat with two toddlers in the house, things can get crazy and very mundane everyday. On a saturday afternoon we decided to pack up what we could and leave the house! Carlos fell asleep in the car and Emery watched some cartoons on her tablet. By the time baby woke up we were at Moon Stone beach in Cambria! It’s our favorite spot that we found when we went on our baby moon a few years back. Now Carlos was here to join us and that was pretty cool to me. It was Carlos’ second time being at the beach, and at first the Pacific water freaked him out. It was a mixture of the rush to his feet and the draw back that had him sinking into the sand. After awhile he enjoyed it and didn’t mind the cold kissing his feet. We were lucky to find so many starfish washed up on the beach. Is that a lucky thing? Kind of for us, and not really I guess for the starfish. We picked them up and put them back into the water. During this time my phone was going hay-wire and would turn off all the time. Sadly, no pictures of the starfish were taken and trust me, I tried angrily a few times. I counted about 17 starfish that had washed up all along the beach. It was the most I have ever found in my life!!
The night was starting to creep up on us we headed home from the cool coast back to the hot heat of the night.

 

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I’m in a picture! I’m never in any of the pictures

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There’s my arm! That’s two for two!

 


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Just the opposite way of the beach, we are blessed with The Sequoia National Park. It was Carlos’ first time going to the Sequoias and I was pleasantly surprised on our spur of the moment road trip. I thought we were making a Costco trip until we kept on going straight on the freeway.

We drove about 2 hours to get to The Giant Forest. By this time Carlos had enough of sitting in the car; he had napped, woke up gotten out of the car for a photo-op and was in the car for 40 minutes more. I’m not sure about anyone else, but with my kids a long car ride and getting out for a second and getting back in doesn’t ever end up well. He cried the whole rest of the way and I sat in the front seat wishing I was at Costco trying some free samples and googling over the chocolate muffins I always talk myself out of.

We took a picture with a giant redwood known as  Sentinel and checked out The Giant Forest Museum. We picked up our Sequoia National Park magnet with a bonus 50 years of celebration on it (score!). We partially walked up, Bear Trail … yes, partially because 2 little kids going 4 miles on a trail is pushing it. Since the moment we got out of our car we heard many people say they had seen bears, even on the trail we went on. I wanted to see something! I kept telling Emery to keep her eyes peeled for anything!
We crossed over to another trail that looped around a meadow. Of course a mother is telling her husband as we passed, how she and the kids saw bears right in the middle of the meadow. Really? We missed it again! We started the walk and we were nearly back at the beginning of the trail when all of a sudden, in a blaze of glory and sun glare there it was! Without even realizing the words I was saying I screamed, “BEAR!!!”. Victor and the kids stopped and we watched him walk off up the ridge. Other hikers didn’t even see the bear above them, which was pretty scary. We continued our walk and we headed to the parking lot to head back home, when lo and behold, bear was there eating some berries right under the path we had to cross. We all scooted back and bear (yeah, I named him Bear) crossed the street and took a path right behind the Museum where we started. Eventually other hikers saw him and we were pretty satisfied with out nature encounter and headed home.

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Carlos’ first time here

Twilight was falling and we started home, the kids finally calmed down and I zoned out looking out the window dreaming of dinner. All of a sudden Vic yells out, “TARANTULA!!” (there was a lot of spontaneous yelling on this trip) and the car veered to the right into a parking lot and some pictures were taken.  Apparently mating season was two weeks before. Back in the car, just out of the park, now in the dark we saw a deer crossing the road. This trip was a success!

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Inside the Giant Forest Museum

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When trees fall the park leaves it there and cuts a whole for park guest to continue the path. I think its pretty awesome.

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So beautiful and quite

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The tree is this wide!

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Bear

TARANTULA {{{ewwww}}}

TARANTULA
{{{ewwww}}}

Our L.A. Weekend

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A few weekends ago our family made a trip to Los Angeles California to visit our family. It was Victor’s Grandmother’s  77th birthday, and everyone came together to make it extra special for her.
Whenever we take a long trip down south or up north to visit our family I always dread the drive. Not for myself but for the little kids, 3 + hours is always a delicate battle between a good nap and just wanting to get out of the carseat .
We got into town Thursday night around midnight. I was hoping  since we left late the kids would all fall asleep in the car and we would have a smooth quite ride. It didn’t exactly work out to plan (as these things never do) but it was still quite and pleasant. Carlos fell asleep right after he ate, all of the kids did which is weird because Emery likes to stay up real late. Right before we headed through the  Grapevine Carlos did the unthinkable and woke up! He slept for about an hour and then decided to give his Mother and Father a mini panic attack and wake up. I think Victor and I made things worse by being stressed out immediately. We decided this was our last stop before heading through the pass and we needed coffee to ease our nerves. When Emery went on her first trip to L.A. she was only 6 months and cried THE WHOLE TIME. Yes folks, that’s 3 hours of a screaming baby in the back seat. She fell asleep 5 minutes or less before we arrived at his Grandmothers house. That scared me and I will forever be scared to death to go on road trips with any of my kids let alone a baby.
Our first full day we took the children to the Los Angeles Zoo. I have never been before either, so I was just as excited to go. They had a carousel, a whole Cambodian Elephant exhibit, a really big Aviary that was a few sections high, I didn’t see a ramp for strollers so I carried Carlos up and down the steps. The Zoo also had a little park and misters. I really like that there was a playground for parents that wanted a break or for the kids to run around and have fun. Anytime we are somewhere new we get a magnet for the fridge and a pressed penny from the novelty machine. Its a little tradition we started with Emery, and somewhere she has a whole bunch.

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At the Zoo! Victor, Emery, Carlos, Victor & Uncle David. Featuring that one kid that always needs to make a face…

 

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Did I mention the kids got to dress up as Doctor’s and help heal a stuffed California Condor? Very cool stuff!

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Saturday was Mami Chela’s Birthday party. We got to visit with all of the Cousins, Aunts and Uncles. Emery has girl Cousins her age, she was very happy to play with them. It was Carlos’ first time meeting his L.A family and while he was still very attached to me he did really well around everyone else. I was scared to put him down because I didn’t want him falling or hurting himself like he does just about every day. The party was fun, lots of good memories and it’s always nice when family can all get together and celebrate with each other. Mami Chela looked beautiful and happy and she’s such a sweet, loving person Emery and Carlos had no problem warming up to her.

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Mami Chela & the kids

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Emery & Uncle David

The Grandkids & Great Grandkids. The one time the kids are suppose to be making a crazy face and only a few of them do it. I don't understand it!

The Grandkids & Great Grandkids. The one time the kids are suppose to be making a crazy face and only a few of them do it. I don’t understand it!



Sunday we went back to the house to say our good bye’s but we had one more trip up our sleeve. We took the children to The Page Museum at The La Brea Tar Pits. Before you go into the Museum the tar pit is outside and I think that was one of the coolest things ever. It’s still bubbling from the natural gas surfacing. Through out the area and at the Museum parking are little closed off spots of tar. Inside was filled with things Scientist have found inside the tar pits such as seeds, bones of prehistoric and extinct animals, bones and maybe some new finds! Inside they have a glass room with Archaeologist sifting through fragments and putting together pieces of bones. New things are being discovered daily.
And of course we couldn’t leave without our pressed penny!

 

 

La Brea Tar pits - Us inside a tar bubble

La Brea Tar pits –
Us inside a tar bubble

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Finally it was time for our drive home, all the kids fell asleep and it was a pretty peaceful 3 hours back over the Mountains.

2013 Recap

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2013 was a year to remember. It brought happiness, joy, love, and many memories. Overall, I think it was an amazing year and it will be very hard to top it next year. To start off, our baby boy Carlos Martin was born just 17 days after the year began! What a way to kick-start a new year! He grew so fast we couldn’t believe it! Every few months he had a new wardrobe to fit into, was making us laugh, and keeping us on our toes. Our chubby little boy grew right in front of us, and in some ways I haven’t realized his major changes until I look back on photos from just a few months back.

Meeting Carlos for the first time

Meeting Carlos for the first time

My husband and I celebrated our fourth year of being married.

Another year bites the dust

Another year bites the dust

Emery Ava turned 3 years old in addition to being a big sis. She was given a birthday to remember with pony rides, rabbits, goats, chickens, and a mini horse all in the front yard. She learned how to write her name and spell it out. She has excelled in her home school studies with me and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

3rd birthday!

3rd birthday!

We took our annual beach trip! Carlos did amazing! I was worried that a three-hour car ride would be too much for a little baby but he proved me wrong. Emery loved making sand castles and Victor found a sea-snail that we all held. On this trip Emery also got her first bee sting. Luckily she is not allergic (what a way to find out if she was) and she handled it like a troop! In no time she was back out there enjoying herself.

Beach bum baby

Beach bum baby

Sea snail anyone?

Sea snail anyone?

Victor turned double digits and is nearly in his pre teens (God help us all).

In October our dear friends Valerie and Bryan became Carlos’ Godparents and will forever be apart of our lives.

Nino Luda & Nina Val

Nino Luda & Nina Val

For Thanksgiving Carlos was old enough and had plenty of teeth to dig in to some celebratory turkey.

In December the two little kids and I took a surprise trip to Disneyland! Carlos turned 11 months on our trip.

Photo op!

Photo op!

A few days later Christmas came and more than anything I have the most fun watching the kids open up their presents.
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This year seemed to go by so fast! Every month brought new and wonderful things.
And while I don’t personally put pressure on my self to inevitably fail committing to a new years resolution I did feel the urge to do something different with myself this year, and for the first time I ordered out of my comfort zone and tried all new things I normally wouldn’t have. Instead of my regular and safe choice of a burger, I tried fish tacos for the first time. Apparently I had eel (still a sick idea to me), I’ve tried a few things I didn’t like, Boba drinks are not for me but over all it was a success!
I expect 2014 will be just as amazing with my family by my side. I only pray for continued health for all my friends and family (everyone really) and wealth (enough) to get us by and a few things for what we wish. I want to have more patience, because all of my patience this year has been used up with learning how to deal with three kids. I want to get back on track with learning and reading and continue to make my children’s life fun.
May everyone’s year be fruitful for them in more ways than they can fathom, be safe out there always and read on into this new year!

Baby’s first Christmas

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The last Holiday of the 2013 year has arrived. While it wasn’t a white Christmas for us like my three year wished it to be it was still a memorable one for this mama. Carlos had just turned 11 months a few days ago, he’s in his last true days of being a baby before turning the big one. This Christmas he’s too little to enjoy all of the fun and lights like his big sister and brother but I tried to make it as special for him as possible.
His father came home with a big Christmas tree and we placed his “First Christmas” ornament on it. The two older children put ornaments on the tree, it’s easy to tell where Emery has placed her ornaments as they are all bunched together.
A few days before the Christmas, Carlos had a mild fever and all the goodies that go along with a sick baby. Luckily for Christmas his fever was gone and I had a happy baby ready to enjoy the day.
Christmas Eve is spent at his Great Grandma Mary’s & Great Grandpa “Papa” Joe’s house. Their house is one of the first to be decorated every year and its done up head to toe inside and out. The house is full of life, with the whole family laughing, playing games and eating tamales made from Grandma and sweets baked the day before. At nine o’clock the presents start to get opened as everyone gets ready to leave or is too tired to wait any longer. Surprisingly Carlos dove right into the idea of ripping up the paper and grabbed hand fulls at a time. When we got home we hurried to make Santa’s cookies before the kids went to bed. They only took 10 minutes but it was getting late and the kids were tired so before the timer was up the children were in bed. I took a picture and gladly ate the chocolate chip cookies and took one for the team and had a large glass of milk (I’m not a milk fan).
Christmas Day is usually reserved for my Husband and his family as it’s his birthday. We spent the day at his sister’s house and ate delicious ham, green bean casserole, home-made drop biscuits, chocolate chip cookies and brownies for a birthday dessert.

Carlos' first Christmas  (little blurry but its one of my favorites)

Carlos’ first Christmas
(little blurry but its one of my favorites)

Christmas Eve opening gifts

Christmas Eve opening gifts

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11 months old

11 months old

Disneyland 2013

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Something wonderful came up in a sort of Christmas miracle. Last week I got a phone call from my Dad, who lives about four hours away in the heart of California. At first he tells me he received our Christmas card and how he loves it, and then he tells me he has an extra adult ticket for Disneyland and he’s leaving in three days! I was literally jumping up and down at first and wanted to scream my little head off, except I was holding the baby and wasn’t 100% sure if they answer was yes. The dilemma was, me leaving behind my husband and ten-year old son who hadn’t been yet. Earlier this year my husband and I planned a to go with my father but as life happens, many things came up and we had to pull out pretty early on our trip. Now this opportunity fell into my lap and I really wanted to take the little ones. It took a whole day of really thinking about it but finally I decided I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity! I packed up and a few days later we were off! My Dad, his fiance Andrea, my two little brothers Braden (10 yrs old), Parker (4 yrs old) and my little troop – Emery, Carlos and myself.
Day 1. First stop – Lizette’s house!
Lizette and I have been friends since the good ol’ days of Myspace. For about 9 years now we have chatted over the internet and watch each other go through some pretty crazy life experiences. Boyfriends, marriage, kids; we’ve seen it all! Just this year we finally met for the first time!
Saturday I needed a place to stay while my Dad and his Fiance stayed with her cousin in the L.a. area. The kids and I stayed with Liz and I was finally able to meet her little boy Aiden who is 6 months older than Emery. Those two kids were so cute together! I wish they lived closer so the children could spend more time together. Right away they started playing and became friends. Liz and I caught up on things going on in our lives and before we knew it, it was bed time. The first night was the roughest. Emery had never been away from home, let alone her father. The only other time we haven’t all been together is when he was deployed for 8 months but she was Carlos age, and too small to really remember. That whole night she cried for him and begged to go home. I kept telling her about the fun she would have and promised in a few days we would see him again. As soon as she would fall asleep she would wake up crying for him again. That started nearly a week-long of no sleep for this mama.

Emery & Aiden 2014

Emery & Aiden
2014

Day 2. Rest day – In the morning my family came to pick us up and we headed out to breakfast. After that we went on a mini tour around the Disneyland park in the car and walking around in Downtown Disney. We were all very ready to start our vacation at the park!
We rested up in the Hotel room and waited for my Uncle and his family to show up. He knocked on the door waiting for my Dad’s finance to open, when she didn’t he peeked in and saw me. Immediately he said, “oh sorry” and was closing the door thinking he had the wrong room, then he saw Andrea and said, “Krystal?”, in which I replied, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!”. Its a long-standing joke of ours, it seems we only see each other during Christmas so when ever we see each other even when it isn’t Christmas we still say, “Merry Christmas!”. Emery was asleep on the bed, she crashed out playing on her tablet, but when she woke up she was so happy to see her cousins, Allison (10 yrs old but looks around 13) and Mia (6 yrs old). and it was our first time meeting Isabella (2 yrs old) and Amelia (4 months) his two youngest daughters. Emery is usually the only girl around with a bunch or uncles and boy cousins, so being surrounded with four other girls was awesome.

Sunday, a day of rest before three days of Disneyland

Sunday, a day of rest before three days of Disneyland

Day 3. California Adventures – At 8 o’clock in the morning we stood in line waiting for the gates to open, I hadn’t been to the Disney Parks in 8 years and was very excited to be there with my kids. We were equipped with walkie-talkies so we could break up in groups and communicate and we had charged cameras and phones for many photos! We stopped to get our Fast Passes (a MUST at Disneyland for any long ride, you’ll jump to the front instead of waiting an hour or more in line). The first ride we went on was a Car’s ride in the kids section with Mater driving around all crazy. Emery went on with my Dad (which is totally cute because she use to be shy with him) and I went on with my four-year old brother. It was a total blast! Emery went on again while I rocked the baby to sleep.
We stopped by A Bug’s Life but missed out on the Toy Story area. We tried to go on as many rides as we could and when I couldn’t go on a ride with her my Dad or her Grandma Andrea stepped in and took her while I waited with the baby. They were the biggest help ever! Especially since I went alone with out their Dad.

Emery & Grandpa First ride!

Emery & Grandpa
First ride!

Em didn't really want to take the picture but I convinced her to bare with it ... this is that result ...

Em didn’t really want to take the picture but I convinced her to bare with it … this is that result …

Day 4. Disneyland – Emery borrowed her best friends Belle dress from Beauty And The Beast for our trip. We had breakfast at Disneyland with the Characters, and bought an autograph book for her to get the Princess’ signatures and everyone else we might see at the breakfast and around the park. The breakfast itself was pretty awesome. First we got our photo taken and then sat down and ate buffet style. As we ate characters would come around the tables, sign our autograph books we bought and took pictures. Emery was excited to see them and have each character sign her book but for the first 5 she didn’t want to take a picture with them. It wasn’t until they were around for a long time and she saw how they interacted that she let her guard down. We were all in shock when she got off her chair to take a group photo with Winnie The Pooh. Carlos, was unsure of them but was brave, took photos, didn’t cry and even touched them to see how they felt. He’s in that phase where he doesn’t like strangers or anything besides me really, so for him to go out of his way to feel comfortable and touch this new big fuzzy thing standing right next to us was surprising. I’m planning to write a letter to a Disney character and get the Princess autographs that we missed! I pinned it, just in case we ever went on a Disney trip.  That night we watched the fireworks, they do every night (weather permitting) and afterward Disneyland had areas of the park that were “snowing”.

Breakfast with the characters

Breakfast with the characters

 

The Magic Kingdom!! 2014

The Magic Kingdom!!
2014

 
Day 5. California Adventure/Disneyland – On the third day of being in the Disney park we usually hop around from park to park. We started off the day at California adventure, where I rode The Tower of Terror and some what concurred my fear of falling elevators. I went on with Andrea and grabbed her arm to hold on to when the ride when the ride fell from the top. When all was said and done I had tears at the corner of my eyes and I was most definitely screaming at the top of my lungs. After wards My Dad took the kids back to, A Bugs Life, where Emery and the younger ones rode around one last time before we headed back to Disneyland for the rest of the night. By this time Carlos was cranky. For being in a stroller and in my arms for more of the 5 days he did a pretty good job. I’m sure he was missing crawling around his sis’s room and being able to stretch out at will.

Tower of Terror {that's right I'm holding on for dear life, screaming at the top of my lungs}

Tower of Terror
{that’s right I’m holding on for dear life, screaming at the top of my lungs}

Our last night at Disneyland was spent in Fantasy Land (where all the fairy tale stories are) and trying to get on last-minute rides. We weren’t able to ride Peter Pan because it was breaking down and Frozen was closed but just being in the park as late as we could stand it before heading home the next day was good enough for us.
Day 5. Goodbye – The morning we headed out was supposed to be our sleep in day. We had woke up at 6 am for the past few days to get to the Park as early as possible. Like clock work Carlos woke up a little before 8 and soon everyone was up. After being in the wonder Southern California warm weather we were leaving Anaheim with rain. Winter in California (depending where you are at) is usually warm or not the winter wonderland as depicted in the movies (which Emery doesn’t understand why is doesn’t snow for Christmas here). Where we live (the Valley, Hanford CA) is was cold jacket weather. In Anaheim we didn’t think (and we should know better) it was a hot 80 degrees up until the day we left. Perfect timing for us.
We all had breakfast together and talked about the fun we had and the long travel ahead of all of us. I filmed the cousins one last time (and regrettably did not take any photo like I planed).
We all did pretty good on our rainy drive home. The half way point for me, is going over the Grapevine, and then I know not too much longer until me and the kids would be home. Emery was the one to get fussy on the way back, she just wanted to be home and Carlos was surprisingly good. Minimal fussing and would stop when I started playing Peek-A-Boo with him.
When we finally turned the corner to my house I saw Victor’s car in the drive way. I was completely surprised (very rare and hard thing to do to me) because it was 3 p.m. on a Thursday and he was supposed to be at work. He came home to welcome the kids and I home! It was so sweet, I guess he really did miss us all!
As we said stretched our legs and said goodbye and thank you to my Dad and family as they headed home for another 3/4 hour drive we were all ready to be with each other. Even though it was a little less than a week away from home, I sure was happy to be back and to be with my husband again! 

{{ As always, follow us on Instagram! Gypsywidow to see more of our adventures }}