School pictures

One evening last week Malina pulled out an envelope from her backpack. It was her school pictures. My first thought was fear. Last year school pictures were a nightmare. I immediately became very nervous about looking at the pictures. Before flipping over the package the flashbacks began.

Last fall we spent over one month trying to get a decent pose for her 1st grade photo. At her old school they had used a new photographer and they were horrible! On her first picture her headband was on her head like a tennis player and she looked really bad. How could someone take a photo like that? We returned the photos and signed up for retakes. The retakes came out really bad! The studio lighting was so bright that she had tears in her eyes on her photo. Oh my goodness.

I could have given up, but that is not my style. Instead of requesting a refund I opted to go in person to the photo studio to have her photos taken for the third time. The drive was almost an hour in rush hour traffic, but we made it, and I picked her final shot. That photo did not make it to the yearbook (it was the second shot in the book) but on the third try her school photo turned out great. It sure helped that I picked it out myself.

So – here I was about to look at 2nd grade photos. I held my breath as I flipped over the envelope to reveal …… gorgeous photos! Yes, we would not have to go through multiple retakes again this year. I looked at the photo even closer and saw that it was done by a local professional studio that obviously took great pride in their work. I was so impressed with their work that I consider taking Matteo there for his 5 year old shots in January instead of the Sears Portrait Studio where I have gone for other photo sessions for more than the last 7 years!

I wonder what the next thirteen years of school photos will reveal! (oh my goodness- do I really have 13 years until my kids are both off to college?).

(day 325)


A Day in Photos- Eating at an Italian restaurant

bottled water

Malina and I went out for lunch at an Italian restaurant last week. It was great mother-daughter time. We ate at the counter which gave us great views of cooks putting together creations in the kitchen. Our meals were delicious. I had my favorite shrimp & beans and Malina ate chicken milanese with roasted potatoes and broccoli. All I can say is that it was a yummy meal and I look forward to another afternoon that we can do another mother–daughter lunch.


shrimp & beans

the pizza oven

raw stuff


eating broccoli

(day 323)

Beach Workout

beach workout

We spend some time just about every weekend at the beach. This past week I saw something different- really different – from across the way. It was not until Matteo and I approached the pier that I saw up close a bunch of tires and a group of people working out. There also was some hip hop music playing. We stayed a few minutes to check it out. I liked that kids were involved too, running after their parents across the sand and later participating in a tug-of-war. Would I ever do this type of workout? Probably not – but it looked like everyone was enjoying participating in the “Amen-zone-fitness workout”. For now I’ll stick with my walks along the beach and just hanging out when Malina has lessons at the beach.

workout van

(day 322)

They Might Be Giants

the stage

I had the pleasure of checking out two very cool musicians from Brooklyn, New York yesterday afternoon with Max and the kids on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. The two musicians, who by chance have the same first name of John, have a band named They Might Be Giants (TMBG).

I listened to their music quite frequently in the early 1990’s, especially when I was in college. I started listening them again a few years back when I discovered that they make children’s music! I am always looking for good music to listen to with my kids, and welcomed the chance to listen to a band that both the kids and I could enjoy.

A few weeks back I saw that They Might Be Giants would be playing a family concert at UCLA. I jumped at the opportunity to go since we had the afternoon free. My last concert with Max was Van Halen and this was the first time everyone in the family watched live music in a theatre together. The show was incredible. The venue was kid friendly and the music was great! I was surprised to hear their first song was one from my teenager days – ” Istanbul ( Not Constantinople)” and they later played another hit from the 1990’s that I knew quite well too – “Birdhouse in Your Soul”. As for the kids music that they played we knew many of those songs. At one point I was dancing in the aisle with the kids, and at another point Malilna and I were sitting in another aisle in front of the stage.

I forgot the battery for my camera at home – so all I had available was my cell phone for photos, but I took shots anyways. They Might Be Giants threw out all the rules from the beginning of the show encouraging you to dance in the aisles, sit wherever there was a spot, and crowd the stage. These guys put on a great family show. When the concert ended they gave away TMBG stickers and stayed on stage handing them out until everyone had a handful of stickers. It was truly enjoyable being able to go up to the stage after the show and tell John how much that my family enjoyed the show. I look forward to them returning to Los Angeles next year so we can go see them again – yes, yet another family tradition!

touching the guitar


sticker handout

Some of my favorite moments of the concert: Photo 1: John letting the kids play his guitar, Photo 2: the confetti going everywhere, Photo 3: sticker handout at the end of the show.

(day 321)

time to go home

The kids heading back to the car after a great concert!

The Tooth Fairy Strikes Again

missing teeth

It is so much fun when your kids are young. Over the past few weeks I have been the witness to Malina losing two teeth. I had fun watching her wiggle them wondering when they might fall out. Flossing became challenging and I often forgot that there was a loose tooth. She lost both teeth at school and was the hero of the 2nd grade each time one fell out.

With the first tooth I had little difficulty remembering to pick up the tooth and leave money. That was not the case with the second tooth. It was the morning after she lost the tooth and I was sitting at the computer working on my blog. I saw a photo of her with both teeth out and realized that I had not done the switcheroo the night before. I quickly jumped up and quietly headed to her room. I slipped $5 under her pillow and walked out.

She was up 30 minutes later jumping around because the tooth fairy had left her $5. In her other hand she held her tooth in the baggie. She casually mentioned that the tooth fairy had forgotten to take her tooth. Crap, I forgot that part! I quickly came up with an answer replying, “That was so nice of the tooth fairy to finally leave a tooth for mommy. She always takes them with her.” End of story- the explanation worked. Next time I will remember to search for the tooth too!

(day 320)

Now this is Halloween Decorating: Balboa Island

the cat

Celebrating Halloween in Newport Beach has to be fun. The city embraces the holiday and then some. Balboa Island in Newport Beach is amazing! Max and I visited here once while we were dating and I had photos in an album from the trip. From that trip I knew that many people decorate their homes, but returning with kids I saw that the decorations were incredible! We spent a few hours walking the island taking everything in. This is definitely a new family tradition for us to head to Orange County during the Halloween season. I had such a hard time limiting the photos of what we saw- here are my favorites! Enjoy.

scarecrow-weather vane

gray house

another amazing house

Extreme Decorating

extra large house-1

extra large house-2

extra large house-3

We met the owner of this house. She was great with the kids and quite nice. She told us that she puts up her decorations with help from just one friend and if she did hire a crew to help her it would take four – 8 hour shifts to put everything up! She also said that she would not finish decorating her yard by Halloween; yes, she has that much stuff! Interesting fact: her dinosaur (see first photo in this series) has a Facebook page named “Fred Raptor”.


two scarecrows

decorative bags

wood house

table decor


where's my head


Simple but excellent decorations


boat dock

Towards the Harbor

I have too many shots to share- but I believe you can sense what we saw and how into Halloween the people of Newport Beach are. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood- you won’t be disappointed!

(day 319)