Saturday, March 19, 2016

Nearly Easter

Easter is a bit early this year falling in March. The girl's spring break from school falls over Easter and we long ago booked a vacation for spring break not quite recognizing it was over Easter. When you book a vacation to Hawaii no one is going to complain. 
Since we won't be home to celebrate Easter with family we decided to hold Easter brunch a bit early. We had Granny and Grampy England in town for just a few more days so it was nice to have them with us. We made a big brunch spread with fruit, coffee cakes, eggs and bacon of course. Eric and Rach brought lots of Mimosa makings. I dare any fine restaurant to compare!
The kidlets all sat together. That lasted about 30 seconds but it sure was cute. There was plenty left behind for Winsty to lick up.
After we had plenty of food and beverages there was an easter basket hunt! Goppy brought all her kiddies a giant pail of goodies.
They all looked for their color bucket. Gwyn got a little help.
It was pretty exciting stuff for Ben.
Then the fancy wrapping had to be removed and all the candy inspected. The kids all had quite the stash. Chocolate bunny, and jelly beans of course.
I'm not sure why the candy won't come out of your sippy bottle Gwyn!!
Then it was up to Granny to entertain the kids while the Dads hid all the easter eggs outside. We got lucky it had rained the day before but the sun came out on our Easter and dried everything up.
Granny brought a hidden surprise egg. It was made of layer upon layer of tissue paper with little toy prizes in the middle. You had to unwrap for quite a while to get to the prize.
Then it was time to hunt. Gwyneth got a head start and it was so hard to wait inside and watch her. She was new to this whole experience and each egg needed to be inspected before placing in her pail.
The oldies knew exactly what to do. There were some pretty tricky eggs hidden. Bare feet doesn't help either.
Once the obvious ones were found it took a little more patience.
Gemma and her loot.
The girls wore their "Easteriest" dresses since we did not buy any new this year.
Someone even found an egg with her name on it. That was lucky.
After all the fun and sugar our guests all needed to hit the road for nap time. I never seem to remember to get pictures of everyone until the day is done. At least I managed to get us with the tripod and remote.
I did force my children to take their shoes off for the picture since one had on winter boots and the other had on kitty socks and sketchers with their dresses.
Our real Easter will be spent in Kauai but no complaints over celebrating twice!


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tea with the Queen

We might not be royalty but we do know how to get dressed up on a beautiful Spring day and head to the botanical gardens for a tea party! As Granny's Christmas present we promised her a trip to the Huntington Gardens and tea room. The ladies set off on a beautiful Sunday afternoon while the "boys" stayed home to do chores, install a new mail box.

We had our prettiest dresses on and our best manors (except for the part where they insisted on licking a sugar cube meant to be put in their tea).
The tea room was lovely, if not quite authentic as you served yourself from a buffet of finger foods. There was cheese and crackers, finger sandwiches of all varieties and fruit. Of course the sweet treats were delightful. It wouldn't be tea without a pot of English tea and some scones with clotted cream.
We had filled ourselves up to the brim and then spent several hours wandering the expansive gardens. You couldn't have asked for better weather.
The Japanese gardens have been expanded greatly since I was here many years ago.
We wandered down to the Koi pond and arch bridge. The girls were frustrated to discover you were not allowed to climb the bridge.
We did make a wish on a fish though.
Who is that peeking from behind the waterfall? It's a little Gemma of course.
The plants and flowers were all in full bloom. You could get lost in a forest of bamboo.
Both girls brought a camera and had such fun running around being photographers. Most of these pictures are courtesy of Lily and Gemma.

 All that walking in the sun deserved a break. The  gardens are broken up into regions. After we made it out of Japan we wandered through Australia to make it to the Desert.
 Surprisingly the desert gardens were quite possible our favorite. It was like stepping into another world. It reminded us of Dr Seuss and who-ville.
These were cactus snakes and really did look like snakes slithering up from the ground. I will certainly not be planting these in my yard.
 This odd tree had prickles all the way up the trunk.
 The gardens were having special events for Chinese New Year and these red lanterns were hanging all over the trees.
 We were pooped after hours of walking and didn't even enter the art galleries. I guess we will have to return again when the queen comes to visit!


Daisy Life

It is a busy time of year to be a girl scout. It's cookie sales time in California! This little Daisy was so excited to go door to door and sell her cookies. 
They had a cookie booth at our local grocery store for a few hours one Saturday.  Of course the girls thought this was just a giant play date.
After the cookie sales we headed to a girl scout event called thinking day. Each troop is assigned a different country. You decorate a table with facts about that country. Some troops put on a little dance or play about their country.
Then, after the acts are through, they troops go around to each table and collect a snack from that region and a pin for their lanyard. Our troop was assigned Brazil. They wore matching tropical dresses with fruit headbands.
They always have so much fun together.  The event was a bit long and crowded for these younger ones but they had a fun time for sure. Of course earning the patch doesn't hurt either!
Girls Scouts keep this one pretty busy. There are lots of optional weekend activities and this summer they will go to one week of girl scout day camp at the local middle school. Luckily her friend Amanda is going to MATES next year as well and her mom is one of the troop leaders so she will be able to continue Daisy's there next year.



Dr Seuss

I had no idea until I had kids what a big deal they make about Dr Seuss birthday. Gemma's class was honored with the task of reciting a poem at the city council meeting wearing their home made "cat in the hat" hats.
Gemma is hidden a bit in this picture she was standing with the Mayor of Thousand Oaks in the back and gave him a big high five after the picture.
Her whole class was so proud to be invited. It was in the evening at the city hall so parents got to come and watch.
They also recited their poem another evening at the school board meeting.
Lily's school always does an evening event to coordinate with Dr Seuss birthday and involves reading and learning about different parts of our country. Each classroom was assigned a different region. You went room to room to learn about different states and sample some food from that area. At the end you can collect a Dr Seuss pencil and eraser. Of course there was a who-ville room as well.
Gemma's class had a special Green Eggs and Ham party. They wore the hats they made.
She told me they gobbled up the delights.


Brady Bunch Fun

Some of our best friends, the Brady's, told us they were coming to Disneyland for Natalie's fifth birthday. We did what all good friends would do, we crashed the party and came along. It's not too hard for us to drive down and meet up for a couple of days. We made a weekend of it and stayed in a hotel which apparently is kind of a big deal to these five and seven year olds.
We still bring our Mickey ears from our first trip. I might have to get those things bronzed like they used to do with a babies first pair of shoes. We also busted out a new Frozen shirt for Gemma and Classic Mickey for Lily. She is getting a bit old for character clothes but liked the classic Mickey and Minnie look. GASP. Does that mean she is going to be too cool for Disneyland soon? No chance of that.
We met up with out bestie's in Fantasyland. Peter Pan happened to be there too so why not get a pic with him. Now if it had been Tinkerbell there might have been a riot. She is still our girls fave. Little Danny wasn't sure what to make of the crowd of ladies.
Lily and Kat have been BFF's since the day they were born. I think Kat was one of Lily's first words. We love getting to see them. Good thing we live near Disneyland!
It was a really fun trip since both girls were tall enough for almost all the rides! Our Gemma has been waiting to go on these rollers. She has no fear and loves them all. This was her first time on Madderhorn. She screamed through the whole thing. As soon as it was over she was thrilled and begged to go right back on.
The tea cups will always always be a favorite. The ladies tried to ride solo until the wicked witch, I mean "cast member" told us they needed an adult.
You just have to love Cinderella's castle. Some day I will have to put together a montage of all the castle photos we have taken over the years.
Thanks to a kind stranger I even got to be in a picture, in Lily's Mickey ears of course.
Space Mountain is all re-done for Star Wars. Pretty much they just added some lights and special effects but it's cool none the less. With fast passes and some stealthy planning we barely spent any time in line. The cool weather and threats of rain helped out.
I think big thunder railroad might be all our favorite coaster. It is a classic and so fun. We ride it over and over. Lily is not a huge fan of roller coasters but even she loves this one.
We sort of ran into Woody right outside the railroad. He is so funny. We have had so many chances to see the characters that we don't really stand in line to see them anymore but it is so fun when you just happen upon one. We thought Ben would like this guy.
As it started to sprinkle we ducked into the golden horseshoe stage for a break. Little did we know it was a corny western stage show that also happen to include audience participation. You guessed it. I was the "lucky" person picked to be in the show. I was cinderella of course. I was hoping for a free annual pass for my participation but that never came. 
On day two we all headed to California Adventure. In the rain. I mean real rain not just California drizzle. The good thing was we were all prepared having read the weather forecast. We packed raincoats for everyone and warm clothes.  The best perk was, NO LINES. I have never seen it so empty. We got on all the rides we wanted, most twice. We even managed to finish the whole park by 4pm so we headed home. The Brady bunch stayed and braved the weather a bit more. They had one more night before flying home. We all talk about braving a trip to Disney World! Maybe in a couple of years. We need to save up and brave up.