Thursday, July 31, 2014

Until next time ...

As I sit here and type, this house is starting to feel a little empty.  There are boxes piled in the corner of the bedroom, awaiting the movers that will be here in the morning.  Moving day is here ... it's just a little earlier than expected.  

Our time here in Oakland may have been short-lived and certainly a challenging season, but we made many friends during our stay.  Jim became close with his teammates and the wives were very welcoming to the "new girl."  With the recent turn of events, many family and friends have reached out with such kind words, encouragement, and words of advice.  

One friend in particular said this:
"God has your family in the palm of His hands and already had your path mapped out.  Rest in the reassurance that He is taking you into a new journey.  Let His will be done."

And my brother-in-law, Chris reminded me of this:
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors."  ~James 1:2

Such wise words ... words with so much truth.  Although we may not understand now why we face such challenges, I'm certain we will look back at this season and know exactly what God was doing.  Until then, we patiently wait and pray for our new journey.  As I pray, my faith strengthens.  I think Jim and I are both excited to see where the road takes us next ... and wherever that may be, it's the place where God wants to use our family.  And for whatever reason, that place wasn't meant to be here ... so here's to the next part of our baseball journey - may it be exciting, meaningful, successful, and most importantly, FUN!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Keepin' busy ...

With these two little monsters kids, we sure know how to keep busy and our days can fill up rather quickly.  Our weekend was nothing short of busy, but full of fun!

Friday night was "dive in" movie night at the gym pool, featurning none other than ... "Frozen."  The kids had been looking forward to this night for weeks ... and maybe Megan and me too.  Shhh.  We planned on getting there early, as we knew it would be PACKED ... and packed it was, even two and a half hours before showtime.  Thank goodness for the pool - we did a little swimming, had some dinner poolside, and settled in for the main attraction.  The kids loved it.  Levi snuggled in my lap and Abby ran around with some new friends reenacting every scene.  It was quite something!  

Saturday, we checked out the Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley.  It was similar to activity centers we've been to in the past and the kids loved it.  Especially the space station and rocketship.  They both spent the majority of their time dressed up like astronauts, operating the command center and rocketship.  It was super cute!

Megan noticed the opportunity for a family photo shoot and snapped away.  We've either found our Halloween costumes or our picture for this years Christmas card.  What do you think?!

In the museum there was also a "market" where Abby and Levi shopped, bought the groceries, and then did some cooking.  They painted on a giant paint wall and then used vegetables to paint their own masterpieces to take home.  There was also a water room, train tables, and a quiet reading area.  It's fun to sit back sometimes and watch their little imaginations at work!

Although it's exhausting sometimes (especially at the end of today), I love doing fun things for the kids.  The smiles on their faces say it all and I'm grateful that we are able to have these experiences together.  Cheers to keepin' busy and havin' fun!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Grandad!

When you're living on opposites sides of the country, sometimes you just have to improvise.  Yesterday was my Dad's 68th birthday and so we celebrated together, just not in the same state or even the same coast.  It's amazing how modern technology can still make birthday "parties" fun!!

A couple days ago, Abby and I baked cupcakes while Levi was taking a nap.  As Abby was mixing the batter, she asked "Mama, why are we making cupakes?"  Of course my natural response was "Well we don't really need a reason to bake cupcakes, right?!"  I mean, who doesn't love indulging in cupcakes for no particular reason?

Later that day I realized my Dad's birthday was coming up and immediately went back to Abby's question from earlier.  "Mama, why are we making cupcakes?"  Well, now I had an answer ... "Grandad's BIRTHDAY!"

Even though we were a few days early, we decided to start the celebration that day ... our "party."  We sang Happy Birthday, lit the candle on a cupcake and had Grandad "blow" it out - through the iPad.

There were smiles all around and the kids enjoyed the cupcakes - of course.  Since we teased Gramma and Grandad with the cupcakes, Abby and I will bake them some when we see them next month ... then we'll celebrate again!

It might have been a different way to have a party, but it was a lot of fun anyways!  Hope you had a great day Grandad, we love and miss you!


Monday, July 21, 2014

All Star Break VACATION

Summertime is meant for vacation, right?  Most people travel to a beach or the mountains for a summer getaway ... a break from the daily grind to spend some quality time with family.  For baseball families, this time only comes once a summer, and of course only if you don't end up at the All Star Game.  It's a three to four day break that we LIVE for ... it comes at just the right time too; a time where rest is needed, family time is a must, and baseball can be put on hold for just a little bit.

This All Star break we decided to head up to the lake ... Lake Tahoe that is (or as Levi likes to say ... Lake Taco).  It was about a three hour drive, although it felt much longer at times.  "Are we there yet?  When will we be there?  Can we watch a movie?  I don't want this movie, I want the other one!"

Despite the drive, it was easy to forget all the whiny voices once we arrived.  Our rental house was beautiful and the views were absolutely breathtaking.  We were ready to start our family vacation!

Having never been to Lake Tahoe before, it was fun exploring a new place and taking in the beauty of the nature that surrounded us.  We went to different beaches - some of which had no sand and only rocks, others that had a mix of both.  The first visit to the beach made me laugh, for I had prepped the kids before we went.  I told them, "we'll build sand castles" ... "bury our feet in the sand", you get the point.  Then we showed up and it was rocks.  Only rocks.  The kids then became rock collectors and skipping stone experts - and had tons of fun.

We went rafting down the Truckee River, which was beautiful and a bit nerve wracking for me at times.  The rapids weren't crazy like white water rafting or anything, but holding onto Levi and taking some rocks head on were a bit tricky.  The hubs handled the raft like a pro and we all stayed on the raft - no one overboard for us!  (can't say the same for the peeps behind us... "feet in the air!")

As if rafting wasn't enough adventure, the next day we went to Squaw Valley, a local ski resort that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.  We decided to take a gondola ride, about 6,000 ft up!  The kids thought the "ride" was fun and the mountain views were beautiful!

Over the course of our trip, we ate at several local restaurants and had some yummy meals.  We went to different beaches, playgrounds, shops, and indulged in ice-cream.

Lake Tahoe was such a beautiful place, but the time spent together as a family meant so much more.

Cheers to an awesome vacation - and to an even better second half of the season!  Go A's!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tilden Park Fun :)

When talking to people from this area, most mention Tilden Park as a place the kids would love.  So with a little research and some awful navigation directions (what's new?!), the kids and I visited a beautiful park and had the most perfect day!

The navigation took us on quite the scenic route ... up the mountain, around the mountain, up some more, finally catching some amazing views of the San Pablo Reservoir.  I'm not gonna lie, I was definitely white knuckled the whole way up!  Steep roads and water right on the side ... way, way, waaaaay down.  (Que the crazy face picture from the parking lot once we arrived!)

We first visitied Tilden Little Farm, once inside the park.  It had been suggested to bring our own celery and lettuce and so we were prepared!  Abby was nervous to feed the cows at first because they were quite eager to attack the celery with their massive tongues.  When she finally did it, she became an instant pro!

Levi's favorite were the goats.  He was laughing and smiling the whole time he fed them and even snuck in a few head rubs.  We also fed chickens, geese, and sheep.  The rabbits were a bit sleepy and couldn't be reached to pet in their cages, but were still cute!

After some playground fun and a picnic lunch, we hopped in the car and headed to the area with the steam train.  I knew Levi would love riding the train and was surprised at how much Abby enjoyed it.  We ended up in the train car right behind the conductor, so it was fun watching him operate the train and interact with the kids.

There was even more to Tilden Park that we didn't see.  A merry-go-round, several hiking trails, camping sites, etc...  Maybe we will get there again to check out some more!

Here are just a few pictures of the beautiful views coming back down the mountain.  Breathtaking!!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Birthday

In the middle of all the fun, we also celebrated Jim's 31st birthday!

You're the best friend, husband, and father.  

We love you!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More fun ... and random notes :)

When we haven't been busy exploring our new surroundings, we've been enjoying the weather at home.  The weather here has been amazing, all except for three or four days.  It's typically in the low 80's, with a beautiful breeze.  So with the cooler weather (much cooler than home), we've been soaking up the sunshine outside!

The kids love their new plasma cars and zoom all around the side of our driveway, onto the back patio space.  Megan made the kids stop, yield, and one way signs on the concrete and the kids love using them to "drive" around.  They even got tickets when they didn't follow the traffic signs.  Abby loved getting the tickets and getting surprised by a consequence.  (sing a song, give Mommy a kiss, do 10 push ups) That Megan is very creative and a lot of fun to play with! :)

The local parks around here are super nice and there are a bunch to choose from.  My kids love the swing, so a trip to a park is always a big hit.  Abby can do monkey bars now so that's also very exciting for her! 

A couple weeks ago, Megan and I took the kids to an outdoor shopping place.  It was really nice with a huge duck pond in the middle ... and my favorite store.  Do you really have to guess?  Anthropologie it is.  The kids got some duck feed from the local market and fed the ducks, played on the playground, and we shopped ... well, we tried to shop.  

And here we are exploring Mt. Diablo.  Our visit was kind of spontaneous ... the hubs told us we would picnic for lunch and have an adventure.  So that's what we did .... 

Abby and Levi both did really great with climbing, a little cautious at first, but by the end were making Jim and I very nervous.  We were able to take in some amazing views, climb into some cave like rocks, and just enjoy the adventure together...

... And we are all on this adventure ... together.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth of July ... baseball style.

If I were to close my eyes and paint a Fourth of July picture in my mind, it would look something like this.  A lot of red, white, and blue... a party with family and friends ... a parade that boasts local marching bands, classic cars, firetrucks, tractors, and horses.  There would be typical American style food, sparklers, and fireworks.  Lots of laughter and kids playing everywhere.  

Sounds about right.  Right?!

Enter baseball.  Then the Fourth of July changes just a little bit.  There may not be the big BBQ full of friends and family, or the local parade excitement, but there's still a chance to make some fun memories.  A couple of days prior to the holiday, the kids and I made some star wands for our own mini parade in our backyard.  We also did some baking to create some yummy treats! 

On July 4th we did what any baseball family would do.  We celebrated at the ballpark, cheering on our team, wearing red, white, and blue baseball shirts.  After all, it is America's favorite past time, so it does kind of make sense. :)

The night before the 4th was also extra special ... that's when we watched our fireworks.  After the game, we were able to watch the fireworks from the field with Jim.  Abby doted her headphones (of course), while Levi cupped his hands over his ears.  These two just don't like the loud sounds, but they seemed to really enjoy the artwork display in the sky.  What a special moment!

So even though holidays don't always feel like they should, it's fun to make memories in new, exciting ways.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July - and to all our family and friends, know that you were surely missed! 


California Summer.

After landing in California and meeting the hubs at the airport, I'm not sure who was the happiest of all.  The kids? Jim? Me?  It's up for debate, but I'm pretty sure we were all super happy to have our little family back together.  It was about time!

The kids and I have been in California for about three weeks now and so far, it's been a super fun adventure.  I'd be lying if I said it's all been super fun and exciting, for there have definitely been some frustrating moments.  The kids adapting to a new environment and schedule has proved to be a little difficult at times, but their temperament has gotten much better!  The rental house was having a few issues (ac broke, ant invasion, plumbing problems) but is actually a perfect house in a lovely, quiet neighborhood.  I've been lost more times than I can count but I've officially made it to the ballpark the last four days WITHOUT the use of navigation! WOO HOO!!

My sister (Jen) traveled out here with us and stayed for a little over a week.  It was great having someone from home join us - to make the transition across the country a little easier!  We spent a lot of time at the ballpark, but also made time for other fun excursions.

Megan, a family friend of Jim's, also traveled out with us for the summer.  She's been a big help with the kids and helps me keep my sanity; well, most of the time!  I guess she's technically a nanny, but really it's more like having a friend with me.  We've quickly formed a friendship and it's so nice having someone around when Jim's on the road.  I'm really loving it! ( sorry for the diversion there, but wanted to explain who is in the pics!)

We went into San Francisco one of the first days out here.  I was so excited to show them (especially the kids) the sea lions at Pier 39.  Last summer when I came out here with Jim, there were literally hundreds of them trying to sun bathe on the piers.  They were loud, funny, and were quite an entertaining scene.  Needless to say, my timing was off - turns out there were two sea lions on this particular day.  That's right... two.  We learned that the middle of the summer is mating season and the sea lions go elsewhere to mate, then return early August.  Ugh.

Thankfully, the Pier offers more than just the sea lions.  We watched the street performers, ate some yummy pizza, browsed a few shops, rode the famous carousel, and took in views of the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.  We also tried to find a park (that really didn't even exist) which led to a few unexpected hours of driving around the overcrowded city!  Lombard Street was exciting, but I'm sure Jen and Megan were disappointed that I wouldn't drive it.  Next time, I promise.

Then we found Fairy Land.  A cute, quaint amusement park of sorts.  It was like walking around inside of a storybook - full of rides, play areas, and puppet shows.  It was super cute and the kids really enjoyed it!

Next up, The Oakland Zoo!  And thanks to the A's, we were able to get some behind the scenes attention.  My favorite - feeding the giraffes!  We were up close and personal, feeding them by hand.  We also had the chance to meet with a zoologist, who showed us other small animals up close.  Snakes, turtles, lizards, hedgehogs ... all of which the kids were able to touch.  Last but not least, we went into the tortoise exhibit.  I couldn't believe how big this thing was ... and the kids, surprisingly were not bothered by it.  At. all.  

It was nice to share this experience with new friends too.  Miles and Cameron were new buddies almost instantly - Abby was so excited to find a girl her age!  Unfortunately, this crazy baseball life has already moved them to a different place - but we are so thankful to have met them.  Who knows, our paths might cross again!

Phew!  I guess you could say we've been busy so far.  And there's even more to come!