Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wrap-Up

Among our Christmas festivities this year was a train ride into the city (best activity EVER for the boys) and a walk over to Union Square. We watched the ice skaters, admired the decorations in the Macy's windows, and shared a hot dog on the side of the road. (Because we are classy like that!)

We told Trenton that one night, after he and Chase were all ready for bed, they would find a golden ticket in their beds, which would mean that we would get to go look at Christmas lights instead of going to sleep! (the ultimate dangling carrot!) On Thursday night I hid the golden tickets and put hot chocolate in their sippy cups while Ryan readied them for bed. T was ecstatic to find his "magic ticket," and walking this decked-out street in San Carlos became one of my favorite parts of our Christmas festivities this year. (Thanks, pinterest, for the new golden ticket tradition!)

On Christmas Eve we were at Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay at 9am, right when it opens so that we could feed the goats while they were still hungry. Two dollars for two cups of goat feed and two happy toddlers!

Another two dollars for a turn operating an excavator! We had the farm practically to ourselves and got out of there with only spending six bucks. Next we were off to the farmers' market up the street from our house, which was also amazingly quiet (but strangely still open) on Christmas Eve. We sat on the grass and shared some roasted chicken and potatoes from a food truck. Lovely all around.

We spent the afternoon making baked chimichangas (a Williams tradition) and candy cane cookies for Santa. The boys' nap never happened because when I peeked in their room, I found Trenton had hopped into the crib with Chase and they were happily playing together with a few toys. They played like that for about an hour. I don't mind the loss of a nap here and there when their friendship is developing instead!

Big smiles for Mom when they realized they'd been caught!

That night we had a short but sweet tree-side program before shooing the boys off to bed. Trenton woke up the next morning excited, wondering why Santa hadn't come into his room and said hi during the night. After opening presents (THANK YOU, FAMILY!), everyone played happily while I made rice pudding and hot chocolate. Check out the boys in these darling matching church outfits!

We greatly missed being with extended family this year but tried to appreciate our low-stress holiday, without the chaos of packing, traveling, and later unpacking. However, without my own parents or parents-in-law with us to make it special, I found myself solely providing Christmas—not at all being provided for. It's not the easiest transition to make! Now that I seem to be an official adult, it didn't FEEL like Christmases in the past, but I did enjoy seeing my boys get a dose of the magic. We owe a heartfelt thank you to both our sets of parents for selflessly providing Christmas for so many years!

We know our Christmas was more abundant than many people experience around the world, and we're very mindful of how blessed we are. We hope everyone had a merry Christmas! And thank you for reading our blog during 2011!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas to Us!

For some Christmas means presents; for other it means trash!

Managing a complex has its pros and cons (well, mostly cons, with one big pro—compensation!). December brings one of the cons—a TON of packaging. This doesn't even include the six additional bins.

Our resident garbage man is hot!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Who Needs Reindeer when You've Got a Helicopter!

Don't miss the other two new posts below this one!

We stumbled across a new favorite holiday tradition this year—Santa's Arrival by Helicopter!

My boys love nothing more than planes, trucks, and trains, so this was PERFECT for us. It was at one of my favorite places, the San Carlos airstrip / aviation museum. We ran into our great friends the Bartons, which was really helpful because Dan held both Colton and Chase while I lifted Trenton—that way everyone could see Santa fly by twice in that helicopter. Since Ryan was at work (An obligatory training on a Saturday in December?? In lieu of a holiday party?? Why does this not surprise me anymore?), one of my boys would not have seen anything had the Bartons not been there to help us out! Thanks, guys!

Afterward we waited in line to see Santa, which backfired when both my boys were terrified of the jolly old man. Good times! We will definitely be doing that again next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Last week I asked Ryan to describe his day to me, step by step. Ever since, I have been so GRATEFUL to stay home with the boys! I have looked at my job with new eyes. Sure, it is full to the brim of cleaning sessions and battles of will. It is physically exhausting, but when my eyes are open to it, emotionally fulfilling. For my own record, here are some recent highlights:

The boys' play has blossomed lately, for which I am thanking my lucky stars. I swear Chase has taught Trenton how to play with toys. (T has always preferred me over toys, whereas Chase tends to be more of an independent player.) They spend their days stacking canned food from our food storage closet, pushing the couches together so they can get "stuck" in between them until I attack them with tickles, running circles around the green sofa in the lobby... They are becoming more and more creative and imaginative, and I love it.

After dinner every night, I have started giving them the choice of getting in pajamas and watching a kids' show or playing in their room until they're ready for pajamas. Ever desperate to avoid jammies, Trenton usually happily opts to go in their room and play with the baby gate closed. I tidy up the house (or escape onto pinterest for a few minutes, haha) until he finally gets bored of playing and tells me he's ready for jammies. (Getting pajamas on is much less of a fight when he thinks it is his idea!) Being boys, them playing in their room usually involves a lot of jumping off the bed, cheerfully whooping, occasional complaints or cries from Chase, and random "projects" like throwing every toy we own into the crib (after which T tells me, "We were working hard!" And I tell him now he's going to work hard helping me clean it all up.)

The two old ladies who live up from us are moving out, so where it has usually been almost silent up there, we suddenly are hearing a lot of furniture moving and heavy footsteps. The novelty of these sounds scares Chase, which I secretly LOVE, because he runs to me and collapses in the my arms every time it happens. Today he ducked inside my arms, with his head against my chest, for a good ten minutes, while we sat beside Trenton, who was chattering away on the toilet. :) Every now and then, the most mundane moments are my favorites.

Today a FIRE TRUCK parked outside of the grocery store we live next to. We had just finished sharing some food on "our bench" outside the store when the fire truck pulled up. We walked beside it and sat on the sidewalk, staring up at it, for fifteen minutes. I answered (or made up answers t0) Trenton's million questions ("What are those headphones for?" "What do those letters say?" "Where is the horn?"), thinking all the while about how much I love having boys! They are so fun, straightforward, and honestly, hilarious. Finally, the firemen came back out from the store and gave the boys little plastic firemen hats and we scooter-ed happily on our way.

For a change of pace, I paused our gym membership, and the boys and I have been having several at-home workout sessions a week. I give them plastic peanut butter jars to use as weights, and blast some music. We dance around, do jumping jacks, high needs, air kicks, etc. We do squats and bicep curls and crunches. When I go down, Chase exclaims, "DOWN!" and they hit the floor too. The other day, they actually ran circles around a peanut butter jar on the floor for almost twenty straight minutes! These workouts have been such a fun—and surprisingly effective—way for us to bond. I can't say they won't lose interest eventually (they usually do!), but no matter what, I'll have some great memories from this time.

Thanks for reading (or even skimming!) my novel! I love being a mom!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Magic of Christmas

I can't imagine anything makes Christmas more magical than having small children in your home. (Although being a small child at Christmastime was pretty darn great too!)

T was too timid to sit on Santa's lap, but he did very clearly and politely tell him that he wants a train set. At least he wasn't hiding behind my legs while I held a yelling Chase, which is what happened at our previous attempt to sit on Santa's lap. :) Although in this picture, you can see Chase is still wary of the man in the red suit. Only this time he's staring him down rather than yelping in fear. Oh the fun these boys bring into our life!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ornament Shopping

Only the nonbreakable ornaments are out this year—I wonder why?!

This is Chase ornament shopping. Our tree is like a drive-up window. Stop your truck, grab some ornaments, stash them in your cab, and speed away!

He has a little compartment under the seat that he likes to "hide" them in. Soo sneaky, Chase! You're not at all conspicuous on that bright yellow truck!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Napa, California

Sometime during Ryan's six-week stay in Austin, he booked our family a night in Napa. I think he was feeling bad for me, home as usual with the sweethearts while he stayed at the nicest hotel in Austin. :) Anyway, our family get-away was refreshing, although Napa itself is kind of an interesting place to visit when (a) you have toddlers and (b) you don't drink wine. But that's okay! My favorite part was actually being in the hotel. The boys think a hotel room is a grand adventure, and we enjoyed a fun night playing in the jacuzzi and pool. The pools were outdoor and it was a bit chilly, but the boys didn't mind for a second and we had the pace to ourselves!

Bedtime was surprisingly fun! We wore them out at the pool, then all four of us lined up in age order on king-sized bed, and we watched TV until first Chase knocked off, and then Trenton. We moved Chase to the hotel's port-a-crib and Trenton to his little bed on the floor, and voila!

The next day we drove the 25 minutes between Napa and Calistoga, a quaint, tiny town in the middle of wine country. November is the perfect time of year to make that drive—the leaves were beautiful! It was so nice to see some real fall foliage! And the grape vines are yellow and burgundy right now—gorgeous.

We visited a big castle (technically a replica of a castle since it was built in the 90s!). This picture makes us laugh. The lengths a kid will go to to avoid having his photo taken... Nice bum shot, T!

Much better. We may have "incentivized" him this time around. :)

I wish I had gotten better photos of the grapevines, but getting the boys in the car was becoming enough of a struggle at this point (oh that dear, stubborn Chaser) that it was not worth making any extra stops!

Pretty much anytime two or more members of my family are looking at the camera and actually looking pleasant, I am compelled to post it.

Thanks for a fun get-away, babe!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sleeping Beauty Strikes Again

The combination of the time change, a fading cold, and a drive to and from preschool twice a week has created one drowsy Chase. I laughed when I uploaded some pictures today because I just happened to have several separate series of Chase looking exhausted on our couch. As cute as these pictures are, his drowsiness has actually complicated life for me, but oh well!

And one more thing: Chase, I hate to break it to you, but you are kind of a crier! Lately you lower and shake your head vigorously when I propose something you don't want to do (like a diaper change), and you squawk loudly whenever someone encroaches on something you perceive as yours. I suppose it's just karma, because I believe I was a crier baby myself. Sorry Mom! (And I still love you very much, Chaser!)

I really do love all these pictures, though, even if the exhaustion has thrown us a little off our game! Here's to a better week next week than last!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


"Guys. This daylight savings thing is no joke."

It's rare enough that whenever my boys fall asleep somewhere other than their beds (or in Chase's case, the carseat), I can't help but grab my camera. Today he was watching Sesame Street at 11:10am while I got us ready to go get T from preschool. I noticed his head bobbing while sitting up, so I plopped him over on his side and there he stayed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Question I Hear Frequently...

"What can you do for me, Mom?" A certain three-year-old asks me this multiple times a day lately. Sometimes every two minutes! (I turn it around and ask him, "What can you do for me, kid?")

It almost feels a little insulting, knowing how very much I do do for him. Goodness sakes, child, have you noticed who wipes your bum every day?

In his defense, I think what he's really trying to say is "What can you do with me," not necessarily "for" me. Big difference, sweetheart! I try I should be flattered that he wants my undivided attention so very much, even though it's a little hard to get anything done!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Marathon!

Introducing the fireman...

And the cowboy!

After more than a month of anticipation, our Halloween festivities began with a party at preschool.
Our little cowboy with his best bud, Colton the astronaut, and the handsome fire chief.

Aw. Colton's not sure what to think about the hand holding...

I love the preschool-age version of Halloween. Adorable costumes and nothing scary!

The next party in the lineup was our church social. We were happy it was on Saturday because it meant Ryan was in town!

And to wrap up all the partying, we arranged to go trick-or-treating within our building. Since we manage it, I know all 52 sets of neighbors, so I called all the old ladies and asked if they'd like trick-or-treaters. Additionally, a neighbor put a little pumpkin printout in the mailroom and encouraged people to post it on their door if they had candy to give out. It was so fun going around searching for those little signs! Pictured above is our sweet little friend Clara (her mom and I are great friends) with the boys.

As you can tell, the ladies in the building really went all out! They STUFFED the boys' bags! The two bags on the left were our original bags. The other two were given to us by a lady who bought them just for the boys and filled them to the brim with organic treats! So sweet!

Anyway, I think Halloween sufficiently lived up to Trenton's expectations. Now I just have to figure out how to get him to let me take down the Halloween decorations! (Maybe I'll just have to swap them out directly with Christmas!)

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Every great now and then I can convince Trenton that an official photo shoot would be fun. So today I pushed aside the couch, threw down the blanket, and snapped a dozen pictures before they were ready to move on. Happily, I got a couple of keepers!

I adore them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Preview!

Since September our home has been ringing with the singsong words, "I'm so excited for Halloween." Some days I hear it every ten minutes. And every neighbor will attest—this boy is excited. For weeks he has flagged down anyone walking near our condo and made them wait while he ran inside and brought out a Halloween item to show off. (Good thing we know all of our neighbors!)

As we began decorating, T latched on to every decoration I brought out—the glittery trees, the spooky haunted house, our "beware" sign, the spider with a candle inside...

The spidery fabric I bought to place the decorations on—he took it to preschool to show his teachers. :)

We regularly drive around neighborhoods in search of pumpkins, ghosts, witches, and spiderwebs.

The other day, Trenton and Chase took their trick-or-treating bags on a walk to the grocery store nearby. They were "just practicing."

Have I sufficiently convinced you that this child is excited?

In the past, I've never been hugely into Halloween. But experiencing it through Trenton's eyes has been by far and away better than experiencing it myself. Happy Halloween!

Carving a pumpkin! Family photo a la self-timer! Trenton smiling better for the auto function than when a real live person is behind the camera! Chase with pumpkin guts on his forehead!

Our piano, all spookified!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Let's Go Fly a Kite - Take 2

Don't be entirely fooled by the number of fun family outings I post. Exploring is just how we stay sane with two little boys! How they love a good adventure. Our weeks are full of long work hours for Ryan and many a diaper change for me, but getting out on the weekends helps us keep perspective!

The view I see so often of my little Chase. Always on the go! (And an imperfect hairline, as usual, compliments of myself.)

Still in love!

I pulled out the camera and said, "Say—" He cut me off with: "I LOVE CANDY!"

Another lovely Sunday afternoon spent flying kites, this time on the little beach just below Ghiradeli Square. The city was packed, by the way, now that summer has officially arrived in Northern California. (Our seasons are strange!)

Friday, October 14, 2011


After a rather intense two years, I have been deeply inhaling the changes that are coming our way as the boys grow. It's amazing how simultaneously terrifying and relieving a child's growth can be to a parent.

This morning the boys and I shared a simple picnic lunch on the steps of the nearby Pulgus Water Temple, pictured below. Neither of the boys got precariously close to diving into the reflection pool. No one started taking off shoes in an effort wade. They toddled around discovering pine cones and spider webs. They ran circles around the pillars and talked about how much exercise they were getting. (Well, the one who can really talk, that is.) It was pristine. Then we meandered back to the car and left each boy's long stick in the pebbled parking space next to ours. Within 20 minutes we were back home, with the boys tucked into bed for naps. (They've recently started going down at the same time, rather than staggered. It is a huge time saver for me!)

When Ryan came home from work at 4pm, we headed to the Stanford Shopping Mall just to wander the grounds, woof-woof-ing at dogs and playing a very basic version of tag. I love this brief moment of stillness:

And to top off a lovely evening, we enjoyed a rare sunset sighting while driving the 280 home. It seems that the hills that block the west often dampen of our sunsets, but not tonight!

You can see why I've been breathing deeply lately, right?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Let's Go Fly a Kite

Treasure Island is a strange little jewel. Incredible views of the city, claimed by dilapidated, former-military housing. That real estate would be so expensive if they redeveloped it! Whatever Treasure Island may be, it is an excellent place to fly a kite on a Sunday afternoon.

Trenton felt so special helping his dad set up their new stunt kite. This thing can really get whipping in the wind! It pulls so hard that I wouldn't dare hold it on my own, for fear of sending it crashing into a building or an innocent bystander or something.

Fantastic sky, huh?

Attempting to get both boys to smile, I made some insanely loud animal sounds (for which I only received weird looks, from the boys...and probably others) and then attempted a game of peekaboo. The only problem was that they wanted to play too! Cute nonetheless. And check out that city skyline in the background.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hello Teal

I took a bit of a risk and added teal as an accent color. I already had some teal around the house (piano knobs, Anthro vase, family photos above the sofa), and now I've sealed the deal. At least until I'm ready for another change... We also bought that table on craigslist. A 1920s table from a row house in SF for 60 bucks? Sold!

There's always more this closet designer would like to do (mauve carpets?! popcorn ceiling?! new sofa?! sure!), but I'm trying to bloom where I'm planted, be content to rent, etc. Life is good!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Why

I know I'm not the only woman who loved President Uchtdorf's message during this year's general Relief Society broadcast (a yearly broadcast just for women from our church leaders in Salt lake City). When he started talking about the "why," I felt like he had tapped me on the shoulder to make sure I was paying attention before proceeding to talk directly to me! Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the whys in my life and how much a difference focusing on our motives can make. I recently even registered the blogger address letwhylead (Let Why Lead) and have been toying with the idea of starting a blog along those lines. You can see why President Uchtdorf's words felt more than coincidental to me!

Of course, President Uchtdorf said it best:

...Seek out the majesty, the beauty, and the exhilarating joy of the "why" of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The “what” and “how” of obedience marks the way, yes, and it keeps us on the right path. But the “why” of obedience sanctifies our actions, transforming the mundane into the majestic. It magnifies our small acts of obedience into holy acts of consecration.

Follow this link and watch the first video clip (2 min) to hear exactly what I'm talking about! And I'll let you know if I end up following through with that new blog... :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trenton the Protector

"Walk carefully, Chase. Like I do."

Melt my heart!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chase Talking at 19 Months

A cute video showing off a few of Chase's words, along with Trenton's encouragement.

The Chaseter isn't a huge talker, but at 19 months, he's regularly saying key, Dada, Mama, hi, woof woof, quack, key (for blankie), thank you, go (including "go, go, go!" from the Cat in the Hat song on PBS) ball, and hot. "Hot" is one of his favorites. He uses it for anything that he perceives as dangerous, like when he stands at the top of several stairs or like the other day, when he went poo poo on the carpet after hopping out of the bath and just stayed really still after doing the deed, repeating "hot, hot" again and again. :) He also looooves trucks. He'll be all excited and continue repeating "cuh!" (truck) for up to 15 minutes after seeing the UPS truck drive by through our windows. The beginning stage of talking is so FUN!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Little Buddies

Tonight before bed the boys watched a few minutes of Bob the Builder together. (It happens to be the first show Chase has shown interest in. He sits there and says, "Cuh! Cuh! Cuh!" (truck!) over and over while they watch those animated tractors. Since Chase plopped himself down right next to Trenton, Trenton said, "Mom, look! We're sitting together! You take a picture?" I always happily comply to requests to take a picture.

I love seeing their friendship unfold. Tonight in the bath, I noticed Trenton lean down to Chase's level and say, "I love you, Chase." A moment like that—completely unprompted—makes me treasure my job.

Tangent: As Chase catches up to Trenton in size, more and more people are asking if they're twins. It still makes me laugh every time...

The Last Hurrah

This is what happens by 9:45am when you decide to get up at 5:30. Regardless, I love that face. At nineteen months, I'm calling this the last hurrah of babyhood. He's still my sweet baby, complete with squeezable baby cheeks, legs, and buns. I could just eat him up! He also still lays his head on my shoulder when bedtime is approaching and I scoop him up, blankie and all. But new words are coming out of his mouth every week; he climbs into his own booster seat when he's hungry; he sometimes won't eat until I give him a utensil, even for a bowl of goldfish. By the time he's two, he will look more like a boy... I'm almost surprised to say it, but I don't know if I'm ready for this boy to graduate babyhood.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

T Takes on Academia

Today was a big day in the Nielsen house—T's first day of preschool!

He's going to a little preschool at local Lutheran church. There are only ten students with four amazingly sweet teachers, and it only costs 100 bucks a semester—unheard of around here! (Although part of that is due to the fact that it is only four hours a week... :) The school only accepts children born in even years (which both my boys were born in), because the whole class of ten kids stays there for two years before moving on to kindergarten.

T was so excited and proud that he actually stood still and let me snap some pictures! And Chase seriously thought he was going to preschool too. He kept saying "cheeeeese" during our photo op at home, and then when we were at the school, he dead-legged me to get out of my arms and was perfectly happy wandering around exploring the classroom. Trenton, on the other hand, told me he was "a little afraid" all the sudden and chose to "roar" and hide behind me instead of talking to the teachers. Great social skills, right?? But that only lasted a minute—until they told him they were going to PAINT today. Then he got all chatty and excited and actually told me, "I'm kinda ready for you to leave." Ha! Oh how I love that boy. He spells everything out for me.

Notice Chase, the wanna-be preschooler :) He could not figure out why he was stuck leaving with me a little while later.

T and his best buddy, Colton. This is going to be a wonderful home-away-from-home for Trenton!