The Broad Experience

Is this thing still on?
Going in to this summer I didn't come up with a bucket list for the kids and me. This is likely the first time since Marcus was born that I've just kind of decided to do summer with a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of approach.

To be fully honest, I love it.

That damn bucket list always left me feeling like we had to be out doing a million things, and if something didn't get crossed off by summer's end I'd somehow failed our... fun? Failed our summer? I don't know, but the list was always looming and left me feeling so much (self-induced) pressure.

This summer we're still doing so many things, but at a pace that's conducive with a 5-year old and almost 2-year old. We've kept busy with a capital B. Most of the stuff we've been up to is stuff we do often (Disney, tide pools, parks, science centers). Stuff I've blogged a hundred times over. *yawn*

But. (You knew that was coming, right?) This week we did something that's been on my personal Los Angeles Must-Do List for some time now.

Back in April I snagged tickets to The Broad Museum in Downtown L.A. The exterior of the building alone begs to be photographed. Which, naturally happened.  And, somehow, I convinced Liz (who lives much farther from the museum than me) and Mason to brave horrendous week-day commuter traffic, and join us for some fun.
Ticket entry was at 11:30. I'd done some research on the museum, and an exhibit I was dying to check out was the Infinity Mirrored Room. We got in line immediately to put our names on that list. Only a 137 minute wait. Woah.

We used that time to check out the museum...
Liz and I have both agreed we need to do the museum just once without kids. So, you know, we can take our time looking at each piece, reading up on the artists, the works. The stuff you can't quite do with kids in tow. Because, while everything was amazing to view, I couldn't tell you a single thing about any thing. 
For some reason, the artwork pictured below really drew Marcus in. He went to this room a couple of different times. At one point he walked up to this frame and just stood there looking at me. I finally asked, "Do you want me to take a picture of you with this?" And he got this shy little grin on his face and nodded his head. He didn't have to ask me twice!
I think it's safe to say our favorite piece while walking around the museum was this massive figure of a balloon dog.
Marcus' expression perfectly sums up how we were all feeling about the no-touch policy. Everything was hands off. Which was next to impossible to explain to Julia. So, strapped in the stroller she stayed (and not without a valiant fight on her end).

After a proper look-through of all the great items within The Broad we headed out for a quick lunch and a little time for the kids to stretch their legs and run around.

Then it was our time to head to the Infinity Mirror Room.
The room itself is only 12x12, but the platform to stand on allows only two to three people. With it being such a high demand exhibit we were only allowed 45 seconds. How does one know when their time is up? Someone stands at the door, with a stopwatch, and times your time!
That said, the 137 minute wait was beyond worth that quick 45 seconds.
It was cool, quiet, and absolutely magical. Both kids were on their best behavior. All of us in awe. The hundreds of lights, the  mirrors, the water on the floor to reflect everything. It was completely surreal to experience that with the kids. Next to saying, "Isn't this SO cool?!" The only other thing I could think to do in there was sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to my babes.

I have to say, we've made a lot memories, but this one may be my favorite so far.

After our time at the museum I had a spot in mind that I knew would be a hit with kids and moms alike.

Enter Little Damage.
Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles (and I mean smack dab downtown), this ultra hip ice cream shop was what all of my sweet tooth dreams are made of.

The ingredients are all pulled from local sources, and all organic. Not to mention, the ice cream flavors had names like Unicorn Tears (pictured in the boys black cones), Salted Covfefe (the one Julia's going to town on), Dark Cinns (I want to try that), and Avocado Dreams.

It was the cherry on top of our already fantastically epic outing (minus the traffic, but we'll over look that minor detail).


The Year of Color {Purple} Edition

It's June! Can you believe we're already this far into the month? Madness. June is also the official start of summer. Can I get an amen. Another June notable is that the month has three birthstones, one of them being alexandrite, which happens to have a beautiful purple hue. And, purple just so happens to be this month's color prompt!

Over the course of this past week the kids and I have been busy with all things purple.
Smiles from everyone! Now, could someone tell me how to get Julia's hair out of her face without needing, oh, you know, a comb, a clip, or a hair tie?
Purple also just so happens to be the colors of Scott's Alma matter, Kansas State University, which means there is no shortage of purple attire to be found in the kids closets.

I was thrilled when I found quite a few books that were based on the color purple. We selected a few and couldn't wait to crack them open.
Purplicious - a sweet book that tackles the issues of bullying. I'd highly recommend this read to young boys and girls alike.
Purple, Green, and Yellow - Main character Brigid loves to color, but gets into some serious trouble when she uses markers to color herself. Marcus was really intrigued by the sequence of events with this one.
Mr. Pine's Purple House - Mr. Pine lived on a street with fifty white houses. He couldn't tell which house was his. So he solved his problem in a very unique way. I think this was the favorite from all of us. Bonus points for being a classic!
Since the temps have been quite warm around here many of our afternoons have been spent at the pool. Our reading time has been the perfect way to relax after all that sun and splashing. Usually, this is a time dedicated for Marcus and me, as we cozy up while Julia takes her afternoon nap. However, after I snapped a few pics and started in on Mr. Pine's Purple House, Julia woke and joined us for our story hour. I wasn't sure how Julia would do with books that didn't have things to touch, or flaps to flip, but she sat through each book. And, I loved that peaceful, book-filled time together.

Due to the summer heat I've been trying to avoid turning on the stove or oven at all costs. So our "baking" was more just making. And each treat was ridiculously easy to create.

The healthy one: purple grape and cheese skewers. We had these after a morning spent at the tide pools, and it was the perfect snack.
The not-at-all-healthy one: Purple Flurp - a delicious concoction of grape soda and ice cream blended together to make the prettiest purple shake.
We don't really let the kids drink soda, and the few times they've taken sips they always express a huge dislike (not a bad thing in my book!), so I was a little leery with how this would go over. However, the ice cream blended with the grape soda really took the carbonated kick out of the drink and left us with a creamy, smooth, delicious treat. This isn't something we'll have often, but it was fun to have a special little snack.

Yet another experiment involving baking soda and vinegar. I mean, what kid doesn't love to see things fizz and "explode?" 
This Fizzing Cloud Dough was super simple to make, and it was such a great sensory activity. 

We started off the experiment while Julia was napping. This gave Marcus some time to play around with the cloud dough, which reminded me a lot of Kenitic Sand.
Just before we pulled out the vinegar Julia woke from her nap to join in the real experiment fun. Making the cloud dough fizz!
We played around with how much we made the cloud dough fizz. We first used a pipette to see just a little bit of fizzing. 

Then, the grand finale. We poured so. much. vinegar. on the mass of cloud dough, and we had a pool of cloud dough fizz on our counter. Each time the fizz would taper out the kids would both excitedly shout, "MORE!" 
All throughout I encouraged the kids to feel each part of the experiment. Both Marcus and Julia were a bit hesitant to put their hands in the pool of fizz, but once they tested the waters they both found the texture and feeling of the fizz on their hands fascinating. 

After all our purple fun I needed a craft that was super simple and took less than five minutes to knock out. Insert purple hand print art for the win. 
Each time we do hand print art I always chuckle at how differently the kids react to the paint on their hands. Marcus wants to wash the paint of immediately. He becomes pretty upset if we don't wash right away. Julia, on the other hand cannot wait to get paint on her hands, and would leave it on all day if I let her. Girl friend could care less if her hands were a wet painted mess.

Grandmas and Grandpas may or may not be receiving these butterflies in the mail in the very near future.

Whew!! That wraps up anther fun color prompt. 
If you've added some purple to your June be sure to link up below!


Julia || 22 Months

This month I thought I'd have my act together and keep things documented in a timely manner. Turns out, not so much. Just a week late in getting the little lady's update done #secondchildproblems, but, as the saying goes, it's better late than never.
Height:: Totally guessing, but maybe 34 inches?
Weight:: Another shot in the dark, but 26/7ish pounds?
Clothes:: Pretty comfy in 2T bottoms, but 3T tops are becoming more standard.
Teeth:: 17, that I can see. A 2-year molar popped through, which could explain some rough nights we've had this month.
Marcus, usually.
Her stuffed animals and babies. Her preference of each rotates daily.
Her blanket.
Shoes off. BUT! She's started taking an interest in wearing some of her shoes occasionally (see photos).
Being outside.
Getting absolutely filthy.
Playing with the big kids.
Snacks. All. the. snacks.
Cheese. Most fruits. Asparagus tips.
Water. She blows through so many ounces each day.
Swimming. Bath time.
Dancing. Singing.
Gymboree. Yet, she doesn't love dancing or singing at Gymboree, just climbing all over the equipment.
Marcus, sometimes.
The garbage truck. But, if she's in my arms while we're outside when the truck collects trash she insists on watching it empty the bins.
Having her hair brushed or styled. I've yet to get a pony tail in her mess of curls.
Most veggies and meat.
The shower.
Julia's vocabulary is expanding by the day. She will try and repeat most things she hears us say. There are several 2- and 3-word sentences happening.
She loves to "sing," which is really just kind of a mumble of the harmony.
Julia also loves to try and recite the ABCs and counting 1-10 on her own. She's doing surprisingly well with both. With the alphabet she get get to about E or F before things trail off. And, counting, she can usually get to 4 before she skips right to 8, 9, 10.
Colors. Most things are still blue or black. But occasionally pink will be tossed in the mix.
Notable Moments
Cabo with Julia was a lot of fun and a little nerve-wrecking. She absolutely loved spending everyday at the pool, and going down the water slide. She even went down the water slide, totally solo, and handful of times. The girl can be so fearless.
Scott has been logging some serious work hours, so there were several nights where I was flying solo. Many nights Julia woke inconsolable (I'm guessing this was the molar to blame?). Rather than try to get her to go back to sleep in her bed I'd bring her to bed with me. This went on for a solid month, and the habit was totally my doing. As much as I loved waking to a snugly toddler, I really wanted my bed back. So, the past few nights we've been sleep training to get Julia sleeping soundly in her crib all night long. 
Julia, when she wants to wear shoes, will more often than not put her shoes on by herself, and on the correct feet. 
When we leave the house Julia has an artillery of things she often thinks we need to bring with us (aside from the snacks and water). Often our list includes, but is not limited to shoes she may or may not wear, a purse, a stuffed animal, and other assorted toys. As if the diaper bag wasn't full enough already. 
Julia is totally unaware, but her birthday party plans are in full swing. I'm working around the idea of all things ice cream, and we're slowly picking up little things here and there for the party. I'm pretty excited with the plans I have, and I'm hoping they'll come to fruition even better than I'm imagining.
With Julia there is a who lot of stubborn, a heap of non-stop motion, a healthy dose of sweet, a dash of fierce, and an immeasurable amount of love. 
On to month 23!


For Scott {A Thoughtful Father's Day Gift ft. JORD}

With Father's Day fast approaching I found it only fitting to take a moment here to gush a bit about Scott. He deserves it more than anyone I know. It's not often enough I focus on the workhorse, the constant, the humble, steadfast center of our family.

Scott is honest, loyal to a fault, the best friend a person could ever hope for, spiritually strong, the best motivator and encourager, and so tender-hearted. Above all else, he is deeply family focused and genuinely the best dad I know. Marcus and Julia haven't a clue just how incredibly blessed they are to have such a phenomenal, strong male-figure in their lives.

When Scott comes home from work the kids light up. Scott could be gone a few minutes, or all day, it doesn't matter. The kids are thrilled when Daddy is home. And, once he's home it's full attention on the kiddos.
To Julia, Scott has hung the moon and stars. He adores that little girl unlike any other, and can make her smile and giggle unlike anyone else. I am so thankful Julia will have the best example of a good, honest, respectful man.

The way Marcus adores his dad and wants to be just like him melts me into a puddle of mush.
If Marcus is half the man Scott is (and I have no doubt Marcus will be) the world will be all the better for it. 
Scott loves those babies something fierce, and that love is easily the most appealing of all his tremendous traits.

So, for Father's Day what do I get a man who asks for little, says he needs nothing, yet deserves the riches of a king?

I didn't want some gift that would inevitably sit on a shelf and collect dust. I couldn't even fathom getting him a tie (he doesn't wear those). I've exhausted all monthly club memberships, beer glasses, and other things deemed appropriate for dads.

I wanted something thoughtful, something lasting, something classic...

Then there was JORD.
When I saw the collection of timeless, beautiful, yet not over-the-top men's watches, I knew I'd found the perfect gift.
One day when important, valuable, sentimental items are passed to Marcus, I hope this unique JORD watch is included. I hope this watch will spark memories, bring smiles, and be treasured.

To Scott: though the past few months have been pretty crazy, and we've only seen each other in passing, know that we appreciate every. single. thing. you do for our family. A simple "thank you" just isn't adequate. We wish we could give you the world. But, we're pretty fond of this gorgeous JORD time-piece, and we hope you love it.

We cannot wait to celebrate Father's Day with you. We love you so very much.

Fieldcrest Zebrawood and Maple Watch
The JORD watches are fantastic quality gifts, and we want to give one lucky person $100 to JORD for his or her own luxury wooden watch. Please be sure to enter the easy giveaway below.

Luxury Wooden Watch


A Place to Put My Photos...

...Or more appropriately titled: More Detailed Than My Instagram and Facebook Posts.

A solid week into June and I'm just getting around to recapping May. May was busy, and fun, and action packed with stuff. And it was exhausting. So much so I think I eeked out like five posts the whole month.

Let's get crackin', there's a lot of ground to cover in this post.

I won't do a full vacay recap (yawn). We go to Cabo every May, do the same things, eat at many of the same places, and basically just spend a week relaxing - spa day included - in the sun with a drink in hand.
(Top to bottom, left to right) 1. Dancing around the resort. 2. Waiting patiently for ice cream. 3. Put-put golf was a nightly highlight for both kids.

4. Marcus spent many mornings at the resort kids club where they fed the fish within the resort. 5. Julia snuck in some fish food, too. 6. Looking out to the Pacific from the resort's beach.
Left column, top to bottom: 1. Checking out the goods at the shops in the marina. 2. A morning run along the beach.

Middle column, top to bottom: 1. Uncle Tyler teaching Marcus inappropriate things. 2. A must-click for tourists. 3. Julia fell asleep at the dinner table one evening, the waiters made her a make-shift bed with chairs. 

Right column: 1. Art along the marina. 2. We probably broke some laws getting this snap, as the place wasn't open, and had yellow caution tape blocking most of the entrance off (oops). 3. Last evening having dinner on the marina.
1. Checking out all the activity in the marina.
2. A rare, and very much appreciated date night: a sunset sail around the Arch.

One of my favorite images: Grandpa and Marcus heading back to the resort.
The reason we're lucky enough to visit Cabo each May!
Can you spot Grandpa?
Welp. That turned into more of a recap than anticipated. Whoops. 

The Completion of Pre-K!
Almost immediately after returning home from Cabo we turned around and Marcus graduated Pre-K. It's sill hard to wrap my head around the fact that Marcus will be in Kindergarten this August.
I'm kicking myself for not taking the last day pics with my "good" camera. But, we were running late and rushing out the door when I realized I needed to snap a pic. So, quick cell phone moment it was.
Grandma was in town for the big event!
His round baby face is melting away, right before my very eyes, his little legs are getting so long and lanky, and that last bit of baby tummy is almost gone.

He may be ready for elementary school, but I'm not so sure I am.

To celebrate the Pre-K graduate we thought a trip to Disney was a good idea. I mean, is Disney ever a bad idea? The answer is no.
We rode more rides with Grandma, in one day, than we typically do in two or three Disney days combined. We also managed to eat two or three times more than what we normally do. Eh, when in Rome.
And that's a wrap on May.
Maybe I'll be more on top of things this month. But... seeing as I'm already behind on things like a monthly update for Julia, I'm not holding my breath. 


Memorial Day 2017

If I had to guess, this will be one of my least read posts. Memorial Day was four whole days ago. In the world of immediate and instant "news," this will probably seem untimely and ancient. And that's ok. However, I really felt I needed to get this written out. If only for myself and Marcus and Julia. But, if you're one of the anticipated few to read this, I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When we woke up on Memorial Day we had nary a care in the world and zero plans mapped out for our day. I was sure we'd spend a few hours in the pool, toss some food on the grill, and run around with the neighbor kids. We'd call it a good day and we'd say it was a solid way to wrap up the long "holiday" weekend.

I started scrolling my social media feeds; I saw the all these beautiful scenes - much like activities we were planning to do ourselves - with a very rare Memorial Day tribute sprinkled in amongst the parties and beaches and beer.

And then I saw this:
Courtesy Tyler Christiansen
There are men I knew personally who went away to fight for our freedoms (two of whom happen to be in that list above), yet never returned home. They were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, friends...

Memorial Day, the actual meaning and reason behind the day, seem to be all but lost among so many.
And, that lit a bit of a fire in me.

I couldn't just sit around with my kids and waste a day dedicated to men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can splash in the pool, grill up a burger, drink a beer, and run amuck with our favorite neighbors.

I put Marcus and Julia in their red, white and blue, tossed them into the car, and we traveled to the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Throughout our trip and visit I tried my best to explain to Marcus what we were doing, why we were doing it.

It was a tricky conversation to navigate, as death and dying are difficult and overwhelming to process as an adult, never mind a five-year old.

But, I did my very best to explain to Marcus that our freedoms don't come without cost. 

After walking around for a good bit, checking out different gravestones I pulled out some pennies I had brought just for this experience. I told Marcus to pick a few different stones to place the pennies on. 

A few summers back, while visiting Arlington National Cemetery, I learned there was significance to leaving certain items on the gravestones.

"Pennies are left on graves, most of all, in remembrance of the deceased. Leaving a penny from your pocket is a way to leave part of yourself at the burial site. The coin is a visual reminder that, even in death, the memory of the deceased lives on. It is also a sign of respect to the dead, as it shows that their memory has value to you and is something you want to commemorate.

This is a tradition held onto by members of the United States Military. The money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veteran cemeteries is left in place for a time, but it is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans."

Again, another tricky thing to try and explain to Marcus, but he enjoyed finding gravestones to leave our pennies on.

We spent almost an hour and a half at the cemetery, well beyond what I had expected. And both kids were on their absolute best behavior (never mind Julia wouldn't wear shoes)

I know much of what we discussed during our time at the National Cemetery will likely be lost on Marcus, at least for now. But, if Scott and I do our jobs right, and keep teaching both kids how imperative it is to pay our respects, not only on Memorial Day, but everyday, then perhaps by the time Marcus and Julia are adults the meaning of the long weekend won't be lost on them.