Dear 2 Year Old Jack

We’ve been moving so life’s been a mess but we finally got around to posting this letter to Jack from his Mommy as well as a compilation of video clips we have from his second year. It’s long, but Jack particularly loves it, which is great for those moments when you need him to relax for just a few minutes.

Dear Jack,

You are two! What a year it’s been. We had a routine this past year, and I think we both liked it. But before the school year routine started, you went to some fun places last summer, right after you turned one. You did Mount Hermon for the first time and Sonoma for Bret and Sara’s wedding. We also took you on part of our trip to San Luis Obispo with the Wammacks and Hoppers (Mimi and Grandpa had you one night—and you did well—thank God).

You started walking right around 13 months when the school year started, and once the school year started you went back to seeing JoJo and Mimi once a week while I worked at Fusion on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You even got to see your second cousins, Keegan and Quinn at Aunt Robbie’s when JoJo watched you. You love spending the day with Mimi and JoJo. I’m so lucky they have watched you these first two years of your life. I think it’s helped you have a special bond with both of them. I know you have enjoyed all of the extra ice cream out of this arrangement as well.

This past year, on Mondays, Killian usually came over to play. You guys had the same due date and were born three days apart. After 1 ½ -2 hours Rebecca would come back from supervision and I would go out for 1-2 hours to get some work done. Sometimes I was working on Greenhouse administrative stuff, sometimes studying for my MFT licensing test (Thank goodness that is over!), a handful of times running, and sometimes reading for fun! It also helped you to be left with someone other than Mimi and JoJo. Sometimes it was VERY hard for you to share your toys and hopefully you learned a lot from this experience! You Killian had fun taking turns hitting the baseball, jumping on the bed, eating snacks, playing with cars, and dancing to music together.

On Wednesdays we went to our Pasadena City College class together. It was a class for kids that would be 13-17 months starting on August 31, 2016. You just made th cut! The class was like preschool, but I got to be there with you. We started out with an hour of free time where there was usually some kind of an optional art project. Then there was rug time where everyone sat in a circle and sang songs, then snack time, followed by a talk about a certain parenting subject by the teacher, and then parachute. During the second part of the year, Jane (the teacher) also started reading a story to you all. Some of my favorite days were celebrating the holidays. You got to dress as Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes and come to class, and you also got to hand out Valentines on Valentines Day!

On Fridays we usually walked to Garfield Park in the morning and then walked over to the South Pasadena Library for their story time. It has been so nice to live close to everything in South Pasadena in our current condo. We will miss it when we move.

All of these activities were sprinkled with trips to Descanso Gardnes in La Canada, a few trips to Huntington Gardnes in Pasadena, Kidspace in Pasadena, and swim lessons at the end of the school year at Waterworks Aquatics in Pasadena. And there were of course many trips up to Santa Barbara where we went to the zoo and Fabulous Fridays at the library.


Charlottesville Header (1 of 1)

We headed down to Charlottesville for the second part of our trip where we visited the Hyres and Peterson families. We had the best time!

The Hyres hosted us for three nights, so Jack got to hang out with Elodie a lot. He fell in love with most of Elodie’s toys–you’re next Elodie! He also kept all of us on our toes with frequent outbursts of Old McGogle (AKA Old MacDonald)—I don’t know what about Virginia brings that song out… well maybe it was all of the beautiful open green spaces we kept seeing.

Kristy and Alex were, of course, amazing hosts. On the first day, they gave us a tour of UVA; we went to an awesome water park, where I might have had more fun than the kids; and we ate out at Brazos Tacos, which has a great outdoor area for kids. Later that night, we toured the downtown part of Charlottesville and leisurely walked around, ending the night with gelato.

On our second day, we went to a school park in the morning, and then headed to a winery for lunch and, of course, some wine. The amount of greenery everywhere and low rolling hills in the background made for a beautiful spot to drink wine, eat sandwiches and watch (or chase) Jack and Elodie. We had a great dinner in that night and walked to get ice cream nearby. Jack stole my cone, after I’d had not much more than a bite, and held it with a death grip. Needless to say, I did not get it back.

One of the best parts of the trip was getting to hang out for an extended period with the Hyres family. It’s been years since we were all able to be together for a few days straight. It was so fun to sit and talk into the later hours of the evening as well, and it reminded me of old times. Thanks again Hyres family! We miss you.

As I mentioned, our stay in Charlottesville involved not only visiting the Hyres family but also the Peterson family. This included my cousin Jonathan, his wife, Liz, and two of their three kids, Erik and Sam.

The first night we arrived in Charlottesville, the Petersons took us to a brewery with a beautiful backdrop: think green rolling hills again, and lots of space to hang out with Jack. We chatted, drank beer, and had a nice late dinner. Later in the week we were able to go over to the Peterson’s house, hang out for a bit, and meet their dogs and one of their cats. Brandon also got to ride around the block in Jonathan’s Ford Mustang. We left their house with some delicious banana bread in hand. Thanks Liz!

On our drive back up to D.C., we were able to stop and tour Jonathan’s warehouse (his company sells packing materials). Jack could have run around in there all day; I had no idea that it was so big. Jonathan gave us an excellent recommendation for a BBQ place nearby and we had lunch there. It was amazing. Hopefully we can go back someday.

On our last night, we stayed at a hotel by the airport in D.C. and walked a mile to dinner (Brandon held Jack the entire way because we had given back our stroller). At the restaurant Jack spilled his large glass of milk all over our table—just keeping it real. It was actually the perfect way to end this trip sans Brandon’s tired arms and the spilled milk. And I’m still missing the beautiful landscape and the people we visited. Until next time…


We took a trip!

DC (6 of 23)

After almost a year of trying to figure out the best time to visit the surprising amount of friends and family we have in Virginia (taking into account various schedules and Jack’s ability to sit on an airplane for 5 hours), we set the date for early June. We didn’t plan too much sightseeing ahead of time, and tried to keep our expectations in check, realizing that having toddler with us was definitely going to change the travel dynamic. I am happy to report that the worst part of the actual travel to and from VA had to do with unexpectedly waiting for a car seat to be delivered to our rental car, in a hot garage, after our long flight. While I won’t say that the flight was easy, new toys, Bob the Builder, and surprisingly an orange juice helped the flight to feel manageable both ways. The seat we bought for Jack on the plane is also something we did not regret!


Our first stop was Alexandria, where we stayed with my Aunt Judi and Uncle David. Jack’s internal west coast clock helped all of us wake up at 7:30 ET (4:30 PT) to start our first full day. We walked to the metro station from my aunt and uncle’s house and took it into D.C. The weather was hot but not unbearable that day, and we were able to see the National Monument, White House, Supreme Court, and National Archives. We also took a tour of the Capitol Building. Brandon was also able to see his work’s D.C. office and meet a coworker for lunch. Luckily Jack napped in the stroller for part of this time. I do want to give Brandon a shout-out for carrying Jack for MUCH of our trip in the humid weather. It was a real workout!


That night we headed to Cooper, Meghann, Lucy, and Judd Green’s house for dinner. We had delicious Korean tacos for dinner and were able to sip our drinks and talk late-ish into the night as our kids played—in this case, thank you Pacific Time zone for making a night out late more manageable with Jack. We took Uber home that night. Note: I usually do not like to give my business to Uber because of the recent developments revealed about the company but Uber has cars with car seats in D.C. and that was a lifesaver when traveling with a toddler.


The next day we met the Greens at a giant kids’ wadding pool right by the Nationals Park. We drank Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffees and watched the kids play. Then we headed to the Nationals game, where Brandon fulfilled his goal of visiting another baseball stadium. Jack managed to score a free popcorn, and there were hot dogs and beer (adults only, of course) to go around. We were so glad we got to see the Greens before they head to Kazakhstan in July.


That night my aunt and uncle graciously took us out to dinner to get southern food. At Hen Quarter, we split a giant family-sized meal that included fried green tomatoes (just the appetizer), fried chicken crackling, collared greens, baked chicken, fried chicken, salad, biscuits, and a roasted Twinkies and a s’more special for dessert. Jack went a little crazy that night and because our table was completely covered with our food dishes, he didn’t have much room to move his arms or legs. But all and all, it was a great night and we loved getting to visit more with my aunt and uncle whom we continued to socialize with late into the night after Jack was asleep at home.

The next day, our last morning in D.C., we drove in and saw the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, WWII Memorial, and drove past Arlington Cemetery. Brandon really got a workout carrying Jack this day—there’s just something about a stroller that is unappealing when mom and dad want you in it most–and it was much hotter than our first day exploring the city, but it was so worth it to see those extra sites. We packed up and got on the road to Charlottesville that afternoon. Stay tuned!



Fike’s Farewell

Butterfly (8 of 24)

Santa Barbara. It really speaks for itself. Every time we drive up I always exclaim, “Even the air is different up here!” Brandon has heard me say this countless times and kind of rolls his eyes at me now, but it is so true! We definitely appreciate our visits there.

And this past March, we were able to host friends at my parents’ house while my parents were in Seattle for the weekend. The Fike family stayed with us for one night. It was great to spend time with them before they moved to Austin.

We spent the afternoon at the beach, where Jack learned to play makeshift T-ball with an empty Blenders cup and stick. Uncle Ned joined the fun, too. And Drew provided games and entertainment; he never lets anyone go too long without being active. And the girls—Addie included—got to hang out and talk.

After a full afternoon, we headed back to my parents’ house for showers, baths, and dinner. I definitely charred our burgers, but they turned out edible. Yay! After dinner, with two baby monitors set up in the dining room, we noted how nice it was to be able to hang out with friends for an extended time after dinner with no where to go.

The next morning we headed out early (don’t you love other parents with young kids?) for breakfast at Daily Grind and a walk to the park. It wasn’t quite our final goodbye, but it felt like a fitting way to say goodbye to great friends. We miss you, Fikes!


Shaver Lake


Last minute, we decided to go to Shaver Lake and stay at my aunt and uncles’s cabin over Christmas break. It was a great first visit, sore throats and all. Uncle Pete and Aunt Laurie were amazing hosts! Jack wasn’t always sure what to think of the snow and colder weather (he is such a Southern California boy already), but he LOVED being with family, and Aunt Laurie had a special knack for knowing what might cheer Jack up. Everyone took a turn sledding–even Jack.  And we (well not me, but the rest of my family) built a very impressive snowman. When in Shaver Lake, right?! Here are some photos, if you would like to see…



Last year, Jack spent the majority of Thanksgiving dinner sleeping in his carrier. This year, Jack spent the majority of Thanksgiving dinner running every which way around the Ross family’s beautiful backyard, making sure not to lose sight of Grammie. There was less straight up relaxing but a lot more entertainment and infectious energy–Jack even enjoyed the short hike we all went on. (Thanks for holding him most of the way Grammie!) We took some photos before we left for the Ross house to document this moment in time, too. Hope you enjoy.




This was Jack’s second Halloween, and it was the first year I attempted to do anything in the realm of crafty for his costume. Let’s just pause so I can mention that in Jack’s life, 50 percent of time I get craftsy with his costume–good record, right! We will see how long it lasts.

You may be wondering what part of Jack’s costume involves any type of craftiness. I’ll give you all a moment… Not sure. Give up? It’s his shirt! Red-and-black striped shirts are hard to find, apparently. I painted on those black stripes, and I feel much more accomplished than I should. See, I’ve never been known for my craftiness, so most completed projects are a success in my book. The only thing missing? Hobbes (Jack was Clavin, if this has been unclear). We ordered Hobbes on Etsy over a week ago. The problem?  This is not Amazon prime, and we unknowingly ordered him from Moldova in Eastern Europe. He arrived today and is pretty great, but to complete Jack’s costume for Halloween, we had to settle for a miniature tiger from the bottom of Jack’s toy bin.

Brandon told me to dress up so it wouldn’t look like we were taking a kid with no costume trick-or-treating; I admit, it is hard to tell what Jack is without a proper Hobbes. Anyway, I don’t know how Brandon got away with no costume, but I pulled together one of my favorites: 80s girl. It’s the easiest costume I know.

The best part of the night was stopping by Marxie and Dara’s house to say hi. We happened to show up at the same time as Brandon’s cousin Gavin, his wife Lori, and their two daughters. Halloween is so fun when you are a kid at your great-grandparents!

We headed home and got to take Jack trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. I love that we live in a place with a small-town feel that is big-city accessible. And our little town did not disappoint for Halloween. Trick-or-treating felt movie-esque. Jack didn’t know what was happening, but he did learn to take the candy and drop it in the bag we brought–Brandon and I have been enjoying the fruits of his labor (still are today). We did offer him a lollipop on Halloween.  He loved it. Who knew? SUGAR.

After trick-or-treating we went out for pizza and beer in our neighborhood. Did I mention I love the walkability of this place? Jack was content with his lollipop as our successful Halloween night came to a close.