Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween

I think this year was the best Halloween. Ever. There was a time where due to the socially accepted norm that Halloween gives one carte blanche to dress as slutty as you want without any sort of value judgment being made, this holiday meant my carefully choosing a costume that was a bit sluttier than I would ever want to appear in my normal everyday life only limited by the fact that I lived in Minnesota where there is the tendency for all out loss of power type blizzards on Halloween, i.e., it's cold. For the most part, those times have passed - although, every once in awhile I have a fond memory of dressing like a sexy devil, super hero, etc., and have a fleeting desire to relive it.

This year, however, was the first year that we took Little Miss J out trick or treating. There was a brief moment at about 4:15 p.m., where I didn't think Gus and I would be able to escape from work in time to enjoy the festivities - but we made a commitment to ourselves and our little pumpkin that we would leave work at a designated time even if that meant working a few hours after Little Miss J went to sleep.

Our neighbors, Peter and Julie host an annual Halloween dinner for their friends and family, and we were lucky enough to score an invite. We met some new families and enjoyed a delicious dinner with wine, of course. Then all the kids, there were at least 10 of them, hit the streets. Julie makes sure to exchange your glass wine glass with a plastic one and Peter loads up the wagon with the adult goods.

Little Miss J was a model trick or treater. She said trick or treat at every house and always remembered to politely say thank you. After two houses, she really started getting into it and at one point was heard running down the sidewalk yelling, "Juliet LIKE!" If there was a house with its lights on and kids just leaving, she would say, "Juliet WANT," to indicate that this was the house she wanted to extort candy from next.
Little Miss J and our neighbor Karly
We made it down one side of our street, before we decided to call it a night and left the group. Little Miss J's candy bag was filled to the brim and she refused to let me empty it into a new bag, so we decided it was time to head home to count the booty.

This is what a happy trick or treater looks like
when she's told she can have one piece of candy.

This is what that same trick or treater looks like
when she realizes that one piece truly means only ONE.

Minus the last picture above, seeing Little Miss J really get into the trick or treating truly made this the best Halloween EVER. Hope everyone else had a fun and safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

my juliet pumpkin

I knew that I wanted to decorate pumpkins, but with the very independent Little Miss J I didn't think carving was really going to be the correct option. We opted to go the Mr. Potato Head route. It was relatively non-messy and non-dangerous, which were two key elements. I had had visions of Little Miss J grabbing sharp carving implement, yelling "my Juliet do it" followed by crying and perhaps bleeding. With the help of Appah, Little Miss J directed which eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, etc. to use on her pumpkin.

Little Miss J seems really put out by the fact that our pumpkins are outside on the front patio. Every night she goes through the exercise of asserting possession over "my pumpkin" and carrying it inside. After she loses interest in "my pumpkin," I manage to sneak it back outside only to repeat the exercise the following day. As they say, possession is 9/10 of the law. The person that coined that phrase must have had toddlers in mind.

On a sidenote - as a promise to myself and to Little Miss J, I am leaving work at a reasonable hour tomorrow so we can have dinner with our neighbors and make the trick or treating rounds with the neighborhood kids.

Monday, October 29, 2012

know what i mean jellybean?

We went to the Jelly Belly factory when my family was in town. Lilly was particularly excited because she "LOOOOOVES Jelly Bellys." The tour is free and they give you free samples throughout. Plus there is a sample bar where you can try all the flavors - including new flavors like Tabasco (yuck). After the tour, we spent a good hour browsing around the shop and Lilly got about 5 lbs of jellybeans to take home. I think this little sidetrip was the highlight of Lilly's vacation.

"My Juliet jellybean!"

Friday, October 26, 2012

chunglunds unedited

I'm a horrible photographer and I'm not particularly photogenic, but am often a little bit jealous of people's fantastic photos. What am I talking about? I'm not just a little bit jealous, I'm pretty much really jealous of the perfect shots people capture. It just never seems to happen for our family. The morning of Little Miss J's baptism was no different. It did make me realize, however, that the images we do capture are truly a reflection of how our family works. We're always a bit out of focus, desperately trying to look pulled together when we really are missing shoes, there's a dog running around, and Little Miss J NEEDS to be holding 800 bracelets so that she will actually sit for a picture. We don't always smile on cue, we don't sit still, and heck we may not even be looking at you (or the camera). This is truly just us, uncut and unedited, and I wouldn't trade it for all the perfectly posed shots in the world!

oh happy day!

We intended to have Little Miss J baptized earlier. Fleeing Minnesota in the middle of her first winter, we landed in the Arizona desert where we never felt quite at home. It could have been the apartment or it could have been the neighborhood (or lack thereof) - I'm not quite sure. Whatever it was, we never found a church and I spent a year and a half feeling less than 3/4 settled. The feeling quickly subsided when we moved to California. I get the feeling we'll be staying here for awhile, and I'm really OK with that.

Luckily, my good friend, Rachael, invited us to her church. Since she and I grew up together and were confirmed together and she probably spent all her Friday and Saturday nights reading her Bible, while everyone else was partying out in the woods (right, Rach?), I figured her church was probably right up our alley. Pastor Todd is straight out of Minnesota and I was basically expecting to have coffee 'an in the church basement after the service.

So last Sunday, we baptized our Little Miss J. Dad and Amy and David and Lilly all made a trip to California to be with us. My brother, David, and my good friend, Rachael, both agreed to be godparents. Highlights included Little Miss J desperately trying to blow out her baptism candle before it was time to do so and a fellow churchgoer approaching me afterward asking if my child was 3 or 4 years old, and inquiring as to why I hadn't yet put her into Sunday school yet. Happy Baptism Day, Little Miss J!

me holding the giant baby
the godparents

Grandma and Papa "Woger"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

green acres

We went to Apple Hill last weekend for some autumn fun. Apple Hill is a growers association with over 50 farms and ranches, including produce, Christmas trees, wineries and vineyards. Some of the ranches have you pick apples, pumpkins, or other produce and there are several that have fun things for kids like hayrides, animal feeding, etc. Knowing that getting Little Miss J in and out of the car can be challenging, we tried to identify which farms we wanted to go to based on the best kids activities.

The first one was kind of a bust and we didn't even get out of the car because it didn't look that fantastic. Gus got suckered in by all the pretty flowers and made us get out at Bill's Apples, which turned out only had pretty flowers to offer. There was a general store with some junk crafts and trinkets and stuff, but other than that it was just a pretty place to look at. Admittedly, it was beautiful, but it was not worth the crying when we had to strap Little Miss J back in the carseat. Of course, third time was the charm.

We finally arrived at Apple Ridge! Petting zoo and you pick pumpkin patch. Little Miss J loves animals so the first thing we did was go to the petting zoo, where there actually wasn't a whole lot of petting going on since all the animals were behind fences. But for 50 cents you could get a cup of food to feed the goats. Despite trying to show Little Miss J how to hold her palm open so the goats could eat, she insisted on feeding the goat one pellet at a time. Painstaking, for both me and the goat apparently. The goat would eventually get bored because the rate of food was so slow that he'd wander off - leaving a little girl with her hand stuck through the fence yelling, "goat goat! HERE GOAT!"

Then it was time for pumpkin picking. To my embarrassment, Little Miss J was picking up pumpkins and throwing them like she was competing for the world's strongest toddler title.

After pumpkins, Little Miss J made a break for the goats again so we repeated the painstaking process of feeding a goat one pellet at a time.

We didn't actually get any apples at Apple Hill, but we did get three pumpkins, probably some gross germs from feeding/petting goats, and shared a delicious Apple Ridge sundae, which was warm apple cider doughnut, ice cream, whipped cream, and really yummy caramel sauce.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

there is no one alive that is youer than you

Happy Happy Birthday, Little Miss J! You are one of a kind. There is no one in this world like you. I cannot believe you are 2 years old today. We've come a long way, you and me. I think our love-hate relationship over the first six months (or more) of your life has finally evened out. Over the past year, I have become one of those moms who is basking in the glow of motherhood. We have arrived. I can definitively say that I feel like a competent parent. FINALLY.

One of my favorite things about this past year, which has only happened in probably the last 4 months or so, is that I am now able to recognize what song you are singing. You know all the words to Twinkle Twinkle and to ABC.

Your favorites include:

Favorite Food: Pretty much anything. It makes me a proud mama that you try everything that is put in front of you. Your favorite treats are those Annie's Bunny Gummy snacks and Pocky.

Favorite Toys: You received several new toys for your birthday that are quickly becoming your favorites, including Legos and a Lego table. Play dos (aka Play Doh) and balloom (aka ballons) are also big at our house.

Favorite Songs: Lollipop, Slippery Fish, Wheels on the Bus, Baby Bumblebee

Favorite Book: Little Monkey and the Potty book. In fact, I read them to you so often I actually think you have them memorized.

Favorite Show: Your favorite show to watch on the iPad is Max and Ruby. Your dad hates this show. Truth be told. I kind of do too. Ruby is kind of selfish, and Max is way smarter than Ruby - but I guess kids like it.

Favorite iPad App: Best Kids Songs. You love to dance along to the singing.

When we get home from daycare, the first thing you want to do is "OUTSIDE." You love playing with chalk, blowing bubbles, driving your car, and splashing in your water table.

I used to think it was weird when parents said their greatest accomplishment was their kids, but I've finally become one of those moms that LOVES being a mom, so I guess it makes sense that I'm one of those people whose child is their pride and joy. But literally, I MADE YOU and so far you are turning out to be a pretty awesome human being. That's something to be proud of. Go me (and Gus too).

Umma and Appah love you so very much. To the moon and back again.

Today you are you that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you! -Dr. Suess

between now and then, until i see you again

Dear Mom,
I miss you everyday, but especially today. It's Juliet's birthday and also the anniversary of your passing. Juliet is 2 and is pretty much the best thing in the whole world. She's smart, funny, affectionate, sweet - everything and anything you could ask for. I know you are watching over her and she's lucky to have her own guardian angel.

I know it was probably hard for you to see how much I struggled after you were gone. Over the past 5 years things have gotten much much better. I have a beautiful little family. Gus and I love each other very much and Juliet is literally our pride and joy. Our careers are going well and overall we are blessed with so many good things.

Since moving to California, I've reconnected with Nancy and Karen. I've enjoyed being back in touch with them so much. I remember them visiting our house on Ely Lake and sunbathing on the dock with them. I was just a little kid, but loved hanging out with the older girls. Both Nancy and Karen remember you so fondly as their favorite aunt. They have shared such nice stories about you - stories that make me so proud to be your daughter. Grandma Berglund passed away this spring. Many of the Berglunds came together in Phoenix for her memorial service and I was able to spend some time with cousin Tom. He too shared such nice memories of you.

Being reconnected with family members and hearing their memories of you reminds me of how Pastor Wane had us all sit together before your service and share our favorite stories about you. We all went around the room each giving a favorite Jean/Mom related memory. Right then I felt like I never wanted that moment to end. Even though you were gone, it felt so good to have everyone celebrating you and remembering you. It was as if I felt like people would forget you, if we didn't keep talking about you.

As I have moved on, you are always in my heart and I think of you often. But I don't always take the time to remember all my favorite things about you - partly because it makes me sad. Thinking about you and knowing that you aren't physically here to share in all our joy still makes me sad. I wish you could give Juliet all the hugs and kisses that I know you would give her. I tell her how much you would have loved knowing her because I know you would have.

I always knew how much you loved me, but having a daughter of my own has given me a whole new perspective on the endless depth and breadth of the love a mother has for her child. Even when you aren't here, you continue to be my role model.


PS it has taken me most of the day to write this because I keep choking up. I miss you so much Mommy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

sunny days sweeping the clouds away

What almost 2 year old had a fantastic birthday party?

Saturday was a beautiful day for a birthday party and our little family was blessed to have so many people come to our house to fete our favorite little girl! Friday night we stayed up until 1:00 a.m. putting the finishing touches on the decorations with Gus muttering the whole time about how "umma went overboard." At one point he asked me if I thought I was going to win an award - to which I replied, "yes, I'm going to post this on Pinterest and people are going to repin the sh*t out of it."

she blew out her candle all on her own

the sign that a good time was had by at least one
Little Miss J seemed to have a good time and I'm hoping that she felt as celebrated and loved as she truly is. Carl also had a fantastic time even though he had to share his birthday with Little Miss J's party. He is still owed a dog birthday cake, but he enjoyed all the company we had. Lots of people to scratch behind his ears, throw his ball, and/or drop food on the ground. A shout out also goes to Gus who made delicious bahn mi and ordered all the Korean food, which everyone seemed to love. We weren't even forced to break out the emergency hot dogs that we had purchased just in case we needed kid food.

Happy Happy Birthday (party) Little Miss J!

Friday, October 5, 2012

you say it's (almost) your birthday

About two months ago, when it was on sale of course, I bought a play kitchen for Little Miss J for her birthday gift from mom and dad. It was sitting in the garage in the box for several weeks. Her birthday party is this coming Saturday, and I wanted to have it all set up for her on Saturday morning when she woke up. Since we are so busy during the week, Gus took advantage of last weekend to put it together and it's been behind closed doors in our spare bedroom since Sunday with all the other birthday related paraphernalia. Similar to drug paraphernalia in that I have to hide it otherwise Gus gets on my case about going overboard for the munchkin's birthday - which of course I am, but everything is so cute. Anyway ...

Yesterday the cleaning lady came (which is AWESOME by the way) and she had the door to said hiding place propped open. Last night as I was in the kitchen icing sugar cookies for the party, I hear Gus say, "no no no" followed by screaming, followed by Gus yelling, "NINA." As Gus tells it, Little Miss J wandered into the room, saw the kitchen, and just like a deer in headlights froze with a look on her face that said, "how did I not know this was here and why have I not been playing with it all this time." After being told "no," she comes crying and running down the hallway to me. At which point I decided that it was probably fine for her to have her birthday present a bit early. Both Gus and I are notoriously bad at keeping presents secret. As soon as we get it we want to give it to the other person immediately, even if it is several days before the event for which the present is being given.

We had the big reveal in the living room and there was one happy little girl in the Chunglund house last night.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

the curious case of the missing button

This morning Little Miss J was pulling up her shirt to show me her "button" aka belly button. Then she says, "where's umma's button," and proceeds to pull up my shirt. I, however, was wearing a camisole underneath my shirt, which was then also tucked into my skirt. Poor kid. She couldn't figure out where my button went. She proceeded to go around behind me to pull up my shirt to see if it perhaps was hiding on my back. She cracks me up.