Sunday, July 28, 2013

Balloon Festival

Who knew there was a balloon festival in our "backyard" all these years and we never went!! I found out about it a few weeks ago and so we decided to check it out. Lovely Santa Paula is just about 40 minutes drive away. The canyon drive alone was exciting for the girls. Then we arrived at the parking area and got to take a SCHOOL BUS to the festival! Score!
 We went late in the afternoon to check out all the activities they had to offer and stay for the evening lighting up the balloons. When we arrived there were no balloons at all. We did see some cool sky diver and plane shows. We took a hay ride through a lemon and avocado ranch, and the girls did a free craft.
 By dusk we had settled in to watch the balloon action and eat some carnival food. You know, very little dinner followed by ice cream all around! This guy was very proud to show off his flames! You can't even see them in the photo because they were so bright. That is why he is sort of lit up looking though.
 As you can see someone was very impressed.
 Someone else, was unimpressed.
As it grew darker more and more balloons were inflated. It was really cool because you were out in a soccer field and they were inflating these huge balloons all around us.
 Then as they lit the flames to add hot air, the balloons began to glow!
 You could get right up near them and even talk to some of the pilots. Are they called pilots?
 This one had no fear. She was ready for a ride.
 This one was a bit distressed. She kept shouting I want to go home, the dragons are scawwwyy!
Little Ben was a trooper. Not sure he knew what the heck was going on but he enjoyed watching it all.
 There were maybe about 15-20 balloons in all.
 Then as darkness fell they did a countdown to light up the balloons. It was really cool to stand in darkness (with thousands of people) and watch the balloons all light the sky.
 Very impressive indeed. The balloons remained grounded but it was very cool.
 We all picked out favorite balloon and shouted along with the count downs.
 They also did twinkle lights and turned the flames on and off.
We had such a great time and even survived the crowds and shuttle ride back to our car. The girls happily displayed their tattoos today! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Independence Stay-cation

Happy Fourth of July from two tough sisters! Don't mess with the U.S.! We decided to play tourist in our own town over the long weekend instead of going away. We started the holiday off with a swim party at Goppy's pool. We managed to catch the fireworks from our backyard on the 3rd so we called it an early night on the 4th. Luckily we skipped the big show in Simi that ended in disaster. 
On the fifth we aimed to get some culture. Well, kiddie culture anyway. A local museum (at Forest Lawn Cemetery of all places) was hosting an artist exhibit that uses only legos! It was really cool.
Gives us something to aspire to when all we build is cafe's and pony stables.
We weren't supposed to take pictures but of course everyone was. I did a few on the sly so they are not the best.
After museum #1 we picked up sandwiches and headed to the park for a picnic. We then went to the kidspace museum for a couple of hours. We have a membership and the girls love coming every time.
It was pretty warm so we spent a good amount of time in water play.
Thank goodness we brought our swim suits!
Riding the tricycle with sister is always a big hit.
We managed to wear everyone out but still had the energy to head out on Saturday the 6th. We decided to head to a part of LA we haven't been to. We went downtown to Olvera street!
We explored the first ever house in LosAngeles.
It was pretty impressive and the girls really liked it. Lily even said it was the highlight of her day.
They have a miniature of the street so you can see where you are. The girls wanted to open the case and play!
Union station is right across the street and although we did not take the train we did go check it out. Maybe some other time. It is really expensive just to take the train to downtown. Even with gas and parking it was still way cheaper.
There is a lot to see on Olvera street and the girls were in shopping heaven.
These marionettes we high on the list. It was a mini guitar that really won them over but we managed to escape without one. Phew!
We really needed some nourishment after all that walking. The churro we all shared was not cutting it. We were tempted by the yummy mexican restaurants but we decided to try out Bottega Louie in Downtown. If this pastry case doesn't sell you I am not sure you are human.
Oh and check out the rainbow of macarons! We had a really nice lunch and then took a pastry home for dessert. Lily chose the lovely round chocolate cake in the case. It was pretty small but very decadent. Oh and it was called the princess cake. Sold!
We did some more walking after lunch to the Angel Flight train. It is a really old train that takes you to the top of a super steep hill. It is 50 cents a person. Better than walking if you ask me.
Gemma and her usual goofy faces.
We took in the view from the top and Lily decided she was scared!
After another long day we were pooped. We had just enough energy left for a trip to the beach on Sunday! Who doesn't have energy for the beach? Well, with kids it is pretty draining actually. Alex found this tiny bucket in the sand. Our girls LOVE anything tiny.
As you can see tiny hands swooped in for the steal!
We did a ton of swimming, some sun bathing, and of course digging.
Gemma invented a new way to get clean. Too bad you have to get out of the bucket into the sand.
We managed to make a pretty good castle village before Dr. Destructo came along.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend. We haven't slowed down though! Lily has been in VBS all week and loving it.
We "blinged" out her t-shirt today and that led to hours of bead play and jewelry making.
Gemma has sort of been enjoying her time alone with Mom. It is a taste of what is to come this Fall when Lily starts big girl school! Besides running a lot of errands, getting the oil changed etc., we went to the playground and played toys. Gemma is such a different girl than Lily. All this set up and she played for about 10 minutes.  I think she has played with every toy we own for 10 minutes in the last week.
We did make some important progress though. We perfected the Shaka!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

High Five

You know, each year just keeps getting better and better. Let's hope that lasts through the teen years! This year for Lily's birthday she wanted an Ariel, little mermaid theme. Let me clarify that the "theme" extends to the invitations and the cake. We did craft some jellyfish for decorations you can see hanging from the lights.  

This is what the table looked like the night before her birthday. We gave her a bed for her American girl doll. You can buy the unfinished wood bed from Ikea for $20. We let Lily pick out her favorite color paint at the store (she didn't even ask what the paint was for) and then I sewed bedding, pillows and even a matching pet bed. It was pretty easy and a huge hit! Gemma is already putting in her order for September. 

 Someone was very happy the next morning. Although, she did forget it was her birthday, walk right past the gifts and sit down on the couch with Gemma and I. Gemma said to Lily, "did you see your presents?" and only then did Lily remember it was her big day!
 She went right into opening gifts. It was so nice to have her bday on a Saturday so we could all be home and spend a lazy morning together. She got so many wonderful presents. We have listened to the princess CD from Charlotte dozens of times already!
 This was actually a card, from Auntie Boo, that had real water and sea creatures in it!
 She (and apparently Alex) were thrilled to open a tent for her American girl doll, Mary.
 Gemma was highly interested in all the gifts too. This was a VERY hard year to be the sister of the birthday girl. She really gets what birthdays and presents are and had a tough time seeing all the awesome toys and none were for her. Luckily Lily is very good at sharing and it is only a couple months until Gemma's turn.
 It is not a birthday without M&M pancakes for breakfast. We even did candles and sang since we were saving her party and cake for the next day.
 They spend all morning playing with toys and building her lego camper van with dad. The rest of Saturday was spent with our big extended family at Grandma Great's church. Uncle John and Aunt Sonja held a big gathering to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It was so fun to see so many cousins and Aunts & Uncles we don't get to visit with often. We even survived the 90+ heat!
 On Sunday morning we loaded up early and picked up Goppy to head to the Grove shopping center and the American girl store. Lily has been saving her money for months to get her doll Mary's ears pierced. Mary was a little nervous but survived the procedure. Lily also got to spend some birthday money and pick out some accessories for her doll. She now has several outfits to choose from and tons of tiny little things for Mary to lose. Ha!
 We had lunch at the Gordon Ramsey restaurant Fat Cow. It was pretty good and they served up a warm chocolate chip cookie and vanilla whipped cream to the birthday girl.
 After lunch we were hot and bothered with the heat wave and headed back to Goppy's for a quick dip in the pool.
 The evening we had a little party for Lily. We ordered pizza and made salad and of course there was the ever important birthday cake. Lily wanted chocolate cake with vanilla icing. The "sand" is crumbled graham crackers. The figurines are from the disney store and I made chocolate shells to go around the sides.
 Auntie Rach and Benji came for the party. Poor Ben didn't get any pizza! Uncle E had a hockey game so he missed out.
 Our other guests were G'pa Lee, Goppy, Aunt Carol, and Grandma Great.
 Ben is such a little love bug.
 Lily got a scooter for Mary from Auntie Rach and Uncle E and Ben. Mary always remembers to wear her helmet too!
 Even the heat couldn't keep the ladies off the trampoline.
 Aw, swoon!
 Then it was time for cake. Lily had not seen the cake yet so she was really pleasantly surprised.
 It took a couple of tries to get the candles out. I think this was one happy little mermaid.
Poor Gemma was so worn out from the weekend and no naps and heat. She didn't even want cake or ice cream. She asked to go to bed instead and then threw up. A cool bath and good night sleep helped out and we were all ready for a day at home playing with all the wonderful new toys. Thank you everyone for a wonderful and memorable high five!