Fall in Southern California

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We have color!!  Such a happy, happy surprise!  The trees behind and in front of our apartment changed color in late September, and have only recently started loosing their leaves.   One of my sweet sisters-in-law sent us a box of “fall” from the East coast, which included the pumpkin window stickers.  Peter likes to smooch/lick them while he watches the cars go by.  And that last picture- I was on a walk with Peter the other day, and that palm tree just cracked me up.  Dude!  Your buddies are changing color!  Get with the program!

IMG_2246 IMG_2289One of the first things we did when we moved here was purchase a membership to Descanso Gardens, which is a lovely spot just a two minute drive (up-hill… that’s why we drive… don’t judge) from our apartment.  It is just GLORIOUS with trees and plants from all over the country.  We looove walking around there and go at least once a week.  A couple of weekends ago we visited for a fall festival with live music and pumpkins galore.IMG_0282 IMG_0283I must say, it is really nice to not have to bundle Peter up every time we go outside.  The two photos above were taken at a park on my birthday in late October.  My kid is in shorts.  Awesome.
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But!  We also have days when it is necessary to wear a sweatshirt!  And light a pumpkin-spice scented candle!  And wrap yourself in a blanket!  Peter loves to climb up on the couch and be surrounded by his books and a “cozy blanket.”  Some of his favorite books right now are “Baby Dear” and “Biscuit,” but he will also sit through an entire Francis book, which makes me happy.
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Peter loves to color, too.  He usually just wants us to color for him, though, and draw the moon.  He usually picks the orange crayon, so I guess he has a favorite color?
IMG_2387 IMG_2390 IMG_2406 IMG_2407 IMG_2418 IMG_2419More at Descanso, more fall leaves.  Peter’s running around a lot more, but he could stay forever staring at the fish in the koi pond in the Japanese garden.  Or at the bird observatory, gazing at turtles, ducks, and occasionally, the bachelor goose.  “Hi, goose,” Peter always says.  The goose is the only one Peter will greet directly.

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A couple of months ago, we joined a CSA.  So, every Saturday morning we pick up box full of Peter’s weight in fruits and veggies that are grown in Southern California.  We never know what we’re going to get, and it’s like Christmas every Monday when I get the e-mail that tells us what what’s coming on Saturday.  Patrick and I usually g-chat eachother: “Honey!!!!  Cauliflower!!!!  And PICKLING CUCUMBERS!!!!”  We’re weird, whatever.  We have each other.  But, the best thing of all?  PERSIMMONS.  How did I live almost 28 years of my life without partaking of this sweet goodness that tastes like it came straight from the Garden of Eden????  Holy moley, these things are delicious.  I was chattering obnoxiously to someone from church about my love of persimmons the other day, and her 6-year-old daughter piped up “You should ask for persimmons for Christmas.”  I should.

There’s a small glimpse of our life this season- sorry for taking so long to post!   Tomorrow, we fly to Massachusetts for my brother’s wedding, which we are ecstatic about.  But we are flying with a walking kiddo for the first time… if you have any last minute advice, please share!!!  We have a borrowed DVD player, lots of snacks, books, crayons… anything else?

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Graham Crackers

My little buddy likes to eat.  He’s very good at it, too.  Patrick and I are fully aware that this could change beyond our control at some point in his childhood, but for now, he eats what we eat, which is  just about everything.  And we’re really glad about that.  Peter does have favorites, though.  Cheese, for example.  If there is cheese in front of him with a whole bunch of other things, he will eat the cheese first.  And strawberries (“ba-bre-yays”).  And now that he hangs around with his little buddies at the playground, he has discovered another favorite: graham crackers.  He is really just like a duck begging for food at the park, toddling up to moms saying “kack-kack?” (an efficient word: both for “cracker” and “noise that a duck makes”) as if I never feed him.  Here’s Peter with a “borrowed” graham cracker:IMG_1670

And now, here’s Peter with an empty fist, with a look that means he will perish if that fist is without a cracker for another second:IMG_1671More than once in the past several weeks, I have been in a situation where I did not bring a snack for my child, and he has begged other people (sometimes strangers!) for snacks on the playground.  It is embarrassing.  And if I did bring something for him to eat, it was sooo not as delicious as graham crackers.  Alright, Bud!  I’ll give you graham crackers!  In fact, I’ll MAKE you graham crackers!

IMG_2053IMG_2055These are actually really easy to make, using ingredients you probably already have on hand.  I found the recipe on weelicious.com and made them earlier in the summer for s’mores, cutting the dough into not-so-perfect squares with a pizza cutter.  They were a big hit!  Even without 4 perfect sides, they did the trick.  Yummy and homemade.  I adapted the weelicious recipe just a tiny bit this time:  I had exactly half a cup of all-purpose flour, so I ended up using 2 cups of whole wheat flour.  Because of this, I think, I needed more water for the dough to stick together, so after putting in the called-for 1/4 cup of water, I added one tablespoon more at a time until the dough stopped sticking to the sides and formed a ball.  More whole wheat can’t be bad, right?IMG_2065

I used a cookie cutter for this batch because it was just easier.  I only have Christmas cookie cutters and hearts for Valentine’s Day, so hearts it was!  It’s a perfect size for Peter’s little mitts.  He loooves them, and so do his little friends.  Now I’m that mom with the homemade graham crackers, which makes me chuckle.  But for reals, these are easy.  Here’s the recipe again.  Enjoy!

Sister Visit!

IMG_0238My very lovely little sister came to visit us this past weekend.  She left eaaaarly Monday morning and I am sad.  But when Beth left the car, nobody boo-hooed harder than poor Peter.  We had such a sweet time together!  It was a nice mix of doing tourist-y things and just enjoying her company.  Patrick and Peter even let us get away so Bethie and I could go wedding dress shopping- she is newly engaged!  She left her fiance to see us!  She’s the best!   And she will be a gorgeous bride.  Here’s what we did:

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Laguna Beach!  We went to Crystal Cove at Laguna on Friday morning.  We had fun exploring the tide pools and hiking along the shore, but the waves were a little rough, so we had to keep a close eye on the babe.  And, well.  You already know my feelings about the baby and the beach.  Luckily, Auntie helped deal with the sandy toddler this time!  Peter just loooooves the beach.  As we were leaving, we saw dolphins leaping about just 20 feet from shore!  So cool.  Annnd we stopped at Chick-fil-a for lunch on the way home. Successful lunch=successful day.  That’s my philosophy.

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IMG_1933 IMG_1939 IMG_1950 IMG_1968IMG_0026 IMG_0027 IMG_0241We went to the Getty Museum on Saturday, which is FREE.  Every day!  You do have to pay for parking, but it is so worth it.  It’s huge and beautiful and has amazing views of LA.  Honestly, we mostly chased after Peter outside and in the gardens and enjoyed the views, but we did manage to go through one art exhibit and it was wonderful.  I think we could go back again and again and see something new each time.  Loved it.  And we got to ride a tram!  Peter just seemed a little stunned, but I think one day he’ll enjoy that part.

After the museum ride, we got lunch at In-N-Out Burger.  Now, we had been saving this lunch for a special occasion, such as a sister visiting.  People had been telling us during our whole journey to California that we HAD to go to In-N-Out.  Ok!  The verdict?  It was good, for a fast food burger.  Sorry?!  That’s all I can say about it.  I DID appreciate that they have me extra pickles, and that it was stuffed with fresh lettuce and tomato.  And I also appreciated that it comes with a nice little half sleeve, so you don’t get your hands all greasy.  But still?  It was a fast food burger.  Poor Peter had a banana and a few fries that we threw at him like a seagull.  He seemed pretty happy about it.

Peter almost immediately fell asleep after lunch, so we took the opportunity to drive around and witness Beverly Hills from the safety of our car.  Oh.  My.  Word.  The people who live in Beverly Hills?  And shop in really expensive stores?  And have plastic surgery on their faces?  Why, they actually exist!  Like, the stereotypical people that one might see on TV.  They’re real.  Bethany and Patrick just laughed at me as I stared gawking out the window saying: “These people…. are real?!?!”  It was a very educational experience.

IMG_1993 IMG_2008 IMG_2028 IMG_2032 IMG_1875And we went to the park, ate frozen yogurt and baked treats in our little downtown area, and read a lot of books.  It was a full and happy weekend.  Sisters are the best.  And so are Aunties!  Peter is lucky to have 5 pretty awesome ones.  We miss you, Beth!  Thank you for visiting us.

Colorado!

Gorgeous Colorado:

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Even though we had a shorter distance to drive today, it felt like the longest.  We got up a bit later than usual, but otherwise, the first half of our day sped by.  It started with breathtaking views of the mountains and a hour or so stop in Vail.  I LOVE VAIL.  There seemed to be something for everyone: food, views, art, recreation, music, kiddo parks and fountains.  I wish we could’ve stayed all day!  There is not a cell in my body that wants to ski, but I totally want to go back to Vail to stay and explore in the summer.

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There are stunning hanging baskets and boxes just bursting with flowers all over the place!

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Pirate Park for Peter!

 

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IMG_1501That stream was COLD! But Peter kept wanting to put his toes in… IMG_1502 IMG_1503

As the towns became fewer and far between, I started to get a little restless.  So did Patrick, I think.  The scenery was ever-changing and interesting, but I’m a city gal, and I like to know there are people around.  We did stop at Grand Junction at a Chick-fil-a for a late lunch…

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Peter’s first kid’s meal! He’s a kid!

…but then it was a bit desolate-looking again.

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Our attempt at a family picture

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2nd attempt. Peter thinks it is hilarious to put his finger in his nostril.

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It’s hard to believe that we will reach our destination tomorrow.  Not just our destination, but our new home.  Please pray that we will find housing quickly in a place that we feel comfortable and safe in.  And that we can afford!  We are so grateful for the Lord’s protection on our journey and for this opportunity in California.  I imagine that the next several days will be exhausting and a bit stressful, but we are trusting in God’s provision & timing (though we hope it will be soon!).  I will certainly update here when I am able.

Final stop: California!

A Haiku for Nebraska

A Haiku for Nebraska:

Open Nebraska
All land, sky, and fields of corn…
corn and corn and corn

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Well, Nebraska wasn’t the most interesting drive ever.  But we did enjoy our stay in Lincoln.  Especially Peter!  This was his first time in a “big pool,” and he loved it.  These are photos from the phone… sorry about the quality!

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We stopped at Ted’s Montana Grill in Denver (so yummy!) for dinner before a beautiful, hour-long drive to Silverthorne, where we are spending the night.  The mountains are gorgeous!

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We’re looking forward to another scenic drive tomorrow when we head to Utah.  It will be a shorter drive- only six hours- so we are hoping to have some nice long stops along the way.  A dinosaur park, perhaps??