Tuesday, December 15, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 4 YEARS, 7 MONTHS OLD)

It’s been an interesting few months since my last posting. We had a fun Halloween, although Taylor was in the middle of a flu/cold that she couldn’t shake. Despite her malaise, she was really looking forward to Halloween and we couldn’t bear to keep her home. We opted to just go out to a handful of houses so that she could at least show off her costume. She was a cowgirl, with a pink and sparkly gold vest, hat, gauntlets and boots. We strapped her pink Rody horse onto a dolly so we could pull her around while she sat on top. She looked great! As I said, she only hit a few houses, but it’s mid-December now and she’s STILL working her way through the Halloween candy. She had a super fun time and she’s already thinking about what she wants to wear for NEXT Halloween!
Halloween cowgirl:

Pretty, pretty princess:
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One thing that is so wonderful to see is how much Taylor and her cousin, Nathan, adore each other. We have been fortunate to spend a lot of time with him and I’m pleasantly surprised on a daily basis how much they love each other and how much fun they have together. I hope that their relationship stays strong throughout their lives.

TJ and Nathan at play:
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Family hugs:
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TJ, Zuzu and Chiquita crashed out on the couch:
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The tortoise and the Taylor:
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We’re almost finished with the house and are hoping to move back in sometime in January. Taylor recently recorded a little video to describe how she wants her room to look and here it is:

Friday, September 18, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 4 YEARS, 4 MONTHS OLD)

We’re still busy, still under construction at the house, so I haven’t been posting much lately. We’ve managed to squeeze in some fun between all of the work. Here are some of the things we’ve been doing:

Sliding in Benicia:
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Having lunch with Zuzu and Nathan:
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Goofing off together:
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Starting pre-kindergarten:
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Sailing on the bay:
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Dirt sliding:
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Helping with the house:
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The construction zone is proving to be a wonderful playground. Taylor loves digging in the dirt, picking up nails and watching the various contractors (especially the concrete guys). There is a ginormous mound of dirt sitting in our front yard and Taylor has claimed it as her hill. She’s spent hours at a time playing on her hill. She recently got hooked on the show “Handy Manny”, so she’s very interested in tools and she really wants to help building the house. Ironically, TJ has also entered into a pretty girlie phase. She wants to wear dresses all the time now. I’m fine with it, but there are many days when we’ll stop by the house and Taylor will go play in the dirt pile with her lovely dress on. Her favorite activity is to pretend that it’s a roller coaster, so she climbs to the top and slides all the way down. By the time we leave, she usually comes out with several layers of dust caked all over her skin and clothes. We’ve had to pour dirt and gravel out of every pair of her shoes. Despite the mess, I think we’re really going to miss that dirt pile when it finally goes away.

TJ’s imagination is in overdrive these days and she tends to think very grand thoughts. The other day she asked me, “Mom, how did everything in the world become what it is if there was no one to build it?” Of course, I didn’t have an adequate answer to her question. As I began to stammer out a response, she interrupted me and said, “I know! We should just find a builder and ask them because they would know.” I could not have been more relieved. Taylor has all of the answers to the great unanswerable questions.

Monday, July 27, 2009 (TAYLOR IS STILL 4 YEARS, 2 MONTHS OLD) – Monterey Trip

This past week, Gene and Toby came to town to visit with us. The kids see each other every 6 months or so, so you would think that they might take some time to get back in the groove. In fact, they clicked again immediately and began playing together right away. Over the six days they were here, the kids played non-stop and didn’t fight the entire time! The biggest conflict we had was who got to press the buttons in the elevator. It was wonderful having a playmate here for Taylor and we all had a blast together. The first night, we brought the kids over to the house and they played in the big dirt pile in the front yard. The kids really enjoyed showing us how STRONG they were by breaking the rocks apart:
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The second day, we took the kids to Mt Diablo, which was awesome! They absolutely loved running around in Rock City and climbing into caves. We totally wore them out, then went home to sit in the pool and hot tub.

On Thursday, we headed down to Monterey. I’d heard a lot about the Dennis the Menace playground, so I wanted to check it out. What a cool park! There was an old train car that the kids could climb on, and maze for them to run through. Also, there were tons of really big slides, a swinging bridge and tons of fun play structures. The kids ran all over the place and explored. After a long drive, the park was the perfect antidote. Here we are playing at the Dennis the Menace playground:
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On Friday, we got up early and went to breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, First Awakenings. The kids got Mickey Mouse pancakes that were the size of their heads! After breakfast, we strolled to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and spent the morning there. I absolutely LOVE the aquarium. The design is so kid-friendly, while also being really cool for adults. The kids wore themselves out after a couple of hours and it was starting to get crowded, so we headed off to get some naps and lunch. In the afternoon, we went back to the aquarium and spent the last two hours there before they closed. It turned out that we picked really good times to go because we missed the bulk of the crowds.

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After such a fun day at the aquarium, I thought we could just chill out at the beach, so on Saturday we headed to Asilomar State Beach. I remember going tide pooling when I was a kid, so I thought it would be neat to take the kids. I wasn’t sure if they would be into it, but they loved climbing around on the rocks and looking at the crabs and anemones. We brought some sand toys for them to dig. They had so much fun, they didn’t want to leave. They both slept for the entire drive home. BLISS!

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We were so thrilled to have six days of play with Gene and Toby and it was amazingly peaceful and FUN! It’s so wonderful that TJ and Toby have such a close relationship. I hope that they can grow up being good friends.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 (Taylor is 4 years and 2 months old)

Wow, it’s been a really long time since I last posted! There’s been a lot of change in the air. We’re renovating the house and during the month of June, we were living in a bit of a construction zone while the decks and awnings were being ripped off of the house. It was noisy and so I took Taylor down to my parent’s house to get away from the chaos. Their house was empty because they went on a cross-country road trip for 3 weeks. They sent Chiquita off to a friends’ house to stay while they were gone. I thought Taylor might be a little sad that they were gone, but I didn’t anticipate how upset she would become. When she got to the house, she cried and cried because she missed grandma and grandpa and Chiquita so much. I tried to console her, but was positively despondent. She tends to exaggerate a bit these days, so she was sobbing and saying, “Now I’ll NEVER get to play with them again!” I finally was able to cheer her up by setting up her tent inside the house so that we could “camp” indoors. Taylor got to sleep inside her tent in Zuzu’s office and we managed to have some fun after all. Just before bed, though, Taylor asked for help getting a picture of Zuzu and Paul down from the desk and she set it outside her tent so she could see them from her bed. It was very touching and heartbreaking all at once. She was SO happy when everyone returned home.

I had a birthday last month and grandma C.R. was kind enough to come up and spend the day with Taylor while Zach and I had a day to ourselves. TJ and C.R. had a lot of fun together – doing crafty projects and baking a beautiful birthday cake for me! It was delicious, too! Only problem is that they got the age wrong on the cake. I’m actually only 21 😉

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Once the birthday fun was done, we moved into an apartment where we’ll be living temporarily during construction. We decided to move Taylor’s castle from the house into her new room and her bed is inside. We thought that would be a great way to bring something familiar to the new place and also get some more use out of the castle. Here’s TJ in her “castle bed”:

The best part of living in an apartment…there is a pool in the apartment complex! We’ve been going down and spending time in the pool most days. Taylor was very afraid of the water at first, but she’s really coming around. She took her time getting familiar with the pool, so for a time she would just play on the steps. After awhile, she got more comfortable and we got her some water wings and goggles. Now she’s happy to float around the pool and she’s getting more used to putting her face in the water. We’re looking for swim classes so she can learn to swim while we have access to a pool. Here’s Taylor in her full swim gear:
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There were a couple of rough months there for a bit with TJ – I think she was having some trouble with all of the change that was happening around her. Now that things are settling back into a normal routine, she is in such good spirits! It’s really fun to hang out with her. Her imagination is going all of the time – she still loves to play pretend. It seems that when we play there are rules for now. But don’t try to figure out the rules, because they change to suit her needs. It’s pretty funny sometimes. She’s also really into magic and jokes. Most of the time, the jokes and magic are pretty bad or they just don’t make any sense, but she cracks herself up anyway. Her favorite is:
Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Boo, who?
Aww…please don’t cry! (At some point, instead of saying, “Please don’t cry!”, TJ started saying, “You can’t come in…here’s a tissue!”. She’s got quite a sense of humor, that one!)
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Monday, May 25, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 4 YEARS OLD)

I’m a little late to post this month, partly because I wanted to wait until after Taylor’s birthday. For some reason, this birthday has me feeling extra sentimental so I keep finding myself looking through old photos instead of posting new ones. Taylor’s birthday was wonderful. We decided that we wanted to take her somewhere that she would really remember and spend time together as a family, so we surprised her with a trip to Disneyland. We flew down and back in one day (we started at 4:00am and didn’t end until 10:30pm). It was a little hectic, but we spent a good deal of time planning out all the of the details in advance, so it went surprisingly smoothly. It was amazing to me to see how many people share TJ’s birthday. It seemed like every other person at the park was having a birthday! Despite a few long lines, we were able to make it around the park several times and we hit a lot of rides. In the end, we were pretty worn out, but we all had a great day!

Taylor meeting Ariel:

If you’re wondering whether the Haunted Mansion is an appropriate ride for a four year old, the answer is probably “No”. We learned the hard way (here’s the terror before the tears):

The teacups make everything better:

Normally, Taylor really likes to have her picture taken. In fact, she often asks me to photograph her, but on her birthday she wanted nothing to do with the camera. Almost every time I tried to get a picture, she would turn away or make a face or just say, “NO!”. I don’t know why she decided that she didn’t want to participate, but I had to respect her wishes – especially since it was HER birthday – so I don’t have a lot of photos from that day. That defiance is just a flavor of what we’re getting these days. Taylor is definitely learning how to push buttons and our whole family is experiencing some growing pains trying to figure out how to adapt to this new phase we’ve entered. We have our ups and downs, but TJ is such a good kid most of the time that I can’t fault her too much for exploring her boundaries.

Her body language says it all:

Friday, April 3, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 11 MONTHS OLD)

Next month, Taylor is turning four (!?!) and I will probably silently weep at how quickly her childhood is racing by us. For now, though, we’re going to squeeze as much as we can out of the three’s.
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After a VERY rainy February, we were glad to see some sun in March and with the sun came bugs…LOTS of bugs. Taylor absolutely loves bugs and many hours are spent searching for bugs in the yard. I’m so glad that she’s not scared of them and she has a real curiosity about all the different types that she finds. There is one little problem, though. She catches about 1-2 bugs a day and then puts them in her little bug bungalow, but she becomes positively distraught when it’s time to let them go. I usually give her a warning when she catches them to tell her that she’ll have to release them before the day is over. When the time comes, she still cries and cries: “But I LOVE my buggy! Especially the baby one!!” She’s a good bug caretaker. Here’s Taylor with her bug bungalow:

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Awhile ago, we got a Wii and it has a WiiSports game that includes bowling, golf, baseball, boxing and tennis. We were playing it with Taylor in the comfort of our living room and she enjoyed it, so we thought we’d try out the REAL games. She already had a T-ball set, so she’s been playing T-ball for some time now. A few weeks ago, we took her out to a bowling alley to learn how to bowl and last month she played mini-golf. After that, Taylor kept saying she wanted to learn “mini-tennis”, so we took her down to the expert – Zuzu. My mom and Zach and I brought TJ to a tennis court and they taught her how to play. She was actually pretty good – she was hitting the balls fairly well and she spent about an hour out on the court. (Next year…Wimbledon!)
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Taylor on the carousel with Lesli:

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Next posting: Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 10 MONTHS OLD)

Happy March! It came in like a lion, so hopefully will go out like a lamb. We spent most of the month of February trying to find ways to stay dry during all the rains. I think Taylor was starting to feel a little cooped up, because she kept asking to go out and play. One morning, after it had been raining for days on end, she insisted on going outside to play in the rain. Finally, I relented and geared her up with two pairs of pants and rain boots and a jacket and sent her outside. I figured she’d last 5 minutes, tops, and then want to come back inside. Instead, she had a blast playing outside in the downpour. She jumped in puddles and looked at the plants and walked in the grass and explored. Here she is enjoying her wet wonderland:

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When you’re trapped inside a tiny house for long periods of time, you run out of things to do and so sometimes you get desperate. My mom and I painted Taylor’s face like a cat…
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…and then spent the rest of the afternoon telling her not to touch anything for fear that she’d get face paint on the furniture or carpet. She did look cute, though.

Another rainy day activity has been sending out e-mails. Taylor dictates e-mails to me and then I send them out to family and friends. That turned out to be a really fun, cute project. Here’s one that she wrote to Chiquita:

“Dear Chiquita,

I really love you so much. I like playing with your ball. I like that you sleep with me. Your fur is very soft. I think you really like my hat and you really like Nathan too. You tried to lick him and sit on his blanket. You are the best dog. I think you really like my Hello Kitty boots. I like that you lick me. I like your kisses very much. You love me and I love you.


A couple of weeks ago, I started taking care of my nephew, Nathan, during the weekdays. One of the reasons that I wanted to do it was because it would give Taylor a sense of having another kid around. I wasn’t sure how it would go, since she’s been the queen bee for the past 3+ years. I have to say that so far it’s been going great. Taylor LOVES her cousin and she tells everyone, “This is my first cousin!” When she sees him, she says, “I love you, cousin!”. She’s very doting and brings him toys and his pacifier when he’s crying. It is so sweet. She definitely has her moments of wanting my attention when he’s around, but I am so pleased with how she’s handled it. I hope that she and Nathan grow up to be very close. Here’s a shot of Taylor and Nathan together:


Zach and I wanted to take Taylor to do something really fun and Zach had the idea to go miniature golfing. We brought Taylor to a place in Livermore that has mini golf, arcade, go karts and bumper boats. Taylor liked the golfing, but she got distracted pretty quickly so we played a quick round and then we were looking for something else to do. It was too cold for bumper boats, but we thought we’d check out the cars and see if Taylor was big enough to go in one. She juuuuust reached the height limit, so Zach took Taylor out in a go kart. I wondered if she would be scared, but she absolutely loved it. Once they got out onto the track, she was grinning from ear to ear. It looked like they had a REALLY fun time together. It was such a fun day and I was really glad to see that she’s getting to a point where she can do more “big-kid” stuff. It just makes us realize how many more fun things are ahead of us!
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Taylor and Jaxon:
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Next posting date: Friday, April 2, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 9 MONTHS OLD)

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Well, we’re very happy to be healthy today! So far this year, we’ve already been through one cold and Taylor has had three colds since Thanksgiving. Ugh. I’m ready to wrap everyone in Saran Wrap to keep from passing germs back and forth. Thankfully, the sicknesses have been fairly mild, but it’s just awful to see Taylor sick. Her face gets so scarred up from wiping her nose.

Taylor has lately been really interested in learning words in Spanish. She’s picked up a few words here and there (probably mostly from Sesame Street). She’s always asking what words are in Spanish and if she hears a word that she doesn’t recognize, she assumes that we’re speaking in Spanish. One day, Taylor was in the car and asked me for her Magna Doodle and I passed it to her and said, “Here’s your doodle pad”. She said, “No, it’s my DRAWING pad” and I replied, “Yeah, doodle…drawing…same thing!” She said, “Oh, I KNOW. “Doodle” means “drawing” in Spanish! Heehee…kid logic.

Taylor climbing trees in the yard:

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Next posting: Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009 (TAYLOR IS 3 YEARS AND 8 MONTHS OLD)

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Happy New Year! Well, we made it through another year of fun and festivities and here we are in 2009. We had a really nice Christmas with lots of family and friends. Here are some pictures from the Christmas holidays:

Taylor meeting Elmo for the first time:
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Goofing around with Uncle Steve:

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With all of the Fresno contingent:
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