Saturday, July 18, 2015

And Babies Don't Keep...

The last weekend in June was a pretty big weekend for us: My first born graduated from preschool and my baby girl turned 2, both events not-so-subtly reminding me how fast they are growing up (you know, because seeing it happen before my eyes on a daily basis isn't enough).
On Friday the 26th, JJ had his graduation. It was absolutely adorable, if not painfully long. Seriously, it was an hour and a half. The kids weren't the only ones losing their concentration.  But really, it was super cute. They sang songs and danced. JJ even recited a poem.

It seems like every day he just gets more and more grown up. I cannot fathom that he will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall. Not even the Fall, you guys; August 24. I still remember when he was my little baby and now we can have conversations. Like, real conversations that make sense. He's funny and logical and loves to help. He can make himself dinner (with help, of course). I know it won't be long before he's off in his own world, listening to music in his room, not wanting to hang out with mom. He's such a good kid with the best personality. He can make friends at the drop of a hat. I often envy his personality, to be honest. I know things will change the farther into school he gets, that's just natural, but I hope he can hold onto his light as much as possible. He likes to remind me that he's a kid and doesn't really like it when I tell him he'll always be my baby, but he will always be my baby. Someday he'll understand.
The day after JJ's graduation, Kathryn turned 2. TWO!! I feel like I just brought her home from the hospital! She is a little spitfire, let me tell you. She's funny and sassy and quite stubborn and defiant. She's still a snuggler and she melts my heart whenever she speaks. She copies her big brother in everything (for better or worse). The more she talks, the more grown up she seems. She has the whole world in front of her and I have a feeling she's going to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wax on, wax off

A couple weeks ago the chamber of commerce held the Culver City Expo. Local businesses and such all had tables set up and you could talk to people to get more info. We went to sign JJ up for the next soccer season. 
Well, next to the soccer table was a table for a place called Marina Martial Arts. I've passed it on my way to Costco probably a thousand times, but never really gave it much thought. Gary has mentioned on and off about getting JJ into karate. I've never really had an opinion about it one way or the other. My experience with karate is Daniel-son and Mr. Myagi in the Karate Kid movies. That's it. All I know, is I do not want my little boy getting kicked in the face!
Anyway, on the table was a wheel you could spin to win classes. JJ, of course, wanted to spin the wheel. He didn't particularly care what the wheel was for, he just wanted to do it. He ended up winning 4 free classes! I took a deep breath and booked his first class. Gary was very excited. I was still on the fence.
We had his class last Friday and I have to admit, it was fantastic! The class is called Lil Dragons and it was perfect for his age. They do a bit of an obstacle course, they do exercises, and learn about fitness and nutrition. They also learn about listening and obeying and being respectful. After each lesson, they have a "homework" assignment where they have to implement the lessons they learned in class at home. He gets badges and everything. 

The instructors also happen to live down the street from my mother-in-law and it turns out that they have actually known JJ since he was a baby and would go for walks with his grandma around the neighborhood! The world is small sometimes.  The instructors also assured me that his still a ways off from sparring, so no need to worry about black eyes or broken noses yet.
I think this will be really good for him. He's a bit ADD sometimes, so think this will help him control his energy and listen. If nothing else, he looks really cute in his uniform :0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Abracadabra: My trip to the Magic Castle

So I'm kind of obsessed with magic.  I don't do it myself, but I love watching other people do it. I find it mind-boggling. I don't have any idea how it's done, and I don't want to know. If someone says "Well, I saw him...." after a show, I plug my ears and "la, la, la, la..." away. I seriously don't want to know. Don't ruin it.
I remember as a kid, we had one of those Klutz books of magic tricks and they were pretty cool. When I was in high school, though, I went to winter camp with my church group and one night, during some free time, someone showed me a card trick that blew my mind. Ever since then, I've been so impressed with good magicians. And true magicians too, not the David Blaine "I'm going to sit in a box for a week and call myself a magician" more David Blaine "Street Magic."
Every year there are some crazy good magicians on America's Got Talent (another small obsession of mine). But this year, for my birthday, I was given the chance to go to The Magic Castle. If you don't know, the Magic Castle is an exclusive club for magicians. We are talking world-class magic here, you guys. You have to either be a member or know someone who's a member (or in my case, know someone who knows someone who is a member). They have an up-close magic room (which was my absolute favorite), and a few bigger magic rooms. Throughout the Castle (which is really a mansion), there are bars and tables set up and lots of impromptu magic shows going on. This place has been on my bucket list ever since I first knew it even existed, and it was everything I wanted it to be. 

We went to the close-up room twice with two different magicians. The room is so small--it only holds about 20 people--so it is definitely close-up. The two guys we saw were so good! I was so impressed and amazed and baffled. How do they do it?!?!?!?  No. Don't tell me! I could have spent hours in there watching them.
The other show we saw was with a magician named Liberty Larsen. She was really good, but what I found most fascinating was her history. She said she was a fourth generation magician, dating back to her great-grandfather who performed magic in Los Angeles in the 1940's, when it was literally illegal to do so. She didn't say so, but putting two-and-two together, I believe her grandfather is Bill Larsen, Jr., the co-founder of The Magic Castle. She only touched on her story briefly, but I'm sure it's worth hearing. Maybe she'll write a book someday. 
It was a great night and the perfect birthday celebration.  If you ever get the opportunity to go, DO IT! Or let me know so I can go for you.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

So I finally watched Star Wars...

I've been putting off this post for a long time. I don't know why. Maybe because I'm afraid of the possible backlash I'm about to receive? Maybe because I'm about to weigh in on something that has, quite possibly, the most rabid fan base ever? Well, here it goes...
Star Wars first hit theaters in 1977, followed by two more installments in 1980 and 1983.  I was born in 1984, so you could see why this wasn't necessarily on my radar. By the time I was old enough to understand, Star Wars was so ingrained in pop culture, I never really felt the need to see it. People would look at me like I had three heads whenever I mentioned that I'd never seen a single Star Wars movie. "You should just watch it." They'd tell me. "It's something you should see at least once."
Fine, people. You win. 
I finally watched it a few months ago.  All of them. For the record, I watched them in the following order: 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3 because apparently that is the "right" way to watch them. And here's my take-away:
I don't get it. I suppose they are fine movies, but I don't really understand the level of CRAZY fans have over these movies. Maybe if I had seen them when they were first out? I'm sure the special effects were super advanced at the time, but watching it now? Eh... and the acting isn't great, the dialogue isn't great.  I made a list of thoughts I had while watching the movies (in no order):
* I get how prequels work, but it really bothers me that the first 3 start with "episode 4". Why number them at all? It doesn't seem necessary when they all have different titles anyway 

* Why does Yoda sound EXACTLY like Fozzie Bear?  Yes, I understand Frank Oz does the voice for both, but couldn't he have changed it up a bit? I kept waiting for Yoda to say "Wocka-Wocka"

* Aside from that, Yoda is a bad-ass

* Darth Vader never says "Luke, I am your father" I spent 30 years of my life hearing this misquote and I have to say it was a bit of a downer when all he says is "No, I am your father." Also, I could see how this would be a big reveal if you saw it when it first came out. Knowing ahead of time who Darth Vader was sort of took the wind out of the sails of the scene.

* Mark Hamill is a pretty terrible actor

* It really grossed me out when Leia, after finding out she was Luke's sister, said "Somehow I always knew" Um yuck! If you even had an inkling you might be related to him, why were all flirty and kissy? That's gross. 

* I love the bromance between Han Solo & Chewy, but not as much as R2D2 & C3PO

* I feel like all 6 movies could easily be condensed into 1 or 2 movies 

* John Williams' score is brilliant

* WTF is going on in the Jabba the Hutt scene?!?! 

* The scene transitions look like they were done in Power Point

* Um, Storm Troopers are not robots??

* Why do the Clones in Episode 2 look exactly like Storm Troopers? Confusing
* I really like Ewan MacGregor.

* Hayden Christensen has a rapey face. Has he always looked so creepy? Was he that creepy in "Shattered Glass" or.... um, any other movie he's been in. (Guess I haven't seen too many Hayden Christensen movies)  Why was Amadala so into him? He was super creepy and, like, 10 years younger than her. And she was a queen. You could have done much better, Natalie Portman.

* Plot holes big enough to fly a Death Star through at warp speed.  I think this is possibly why George Lucas made the prequels, to fill in some of the plot holes. It didn't work. Plot holes all over the place.
I have a feeling this movie falls into a category I've created called "The Matrix Problem."  I didn't see The Matrix when it first came out, so by the time I got around to seeing it last Fall, I was very unimpressed. The special effects had been done in many other movies since then, either in seriousness or in parody, that I couldn't take it seriously. I really didn't like the movie at all. Maybe if I had seen it when it first came out, I would have viewed it differently.   I love old classic movies (Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, those types), but for some reason, these resonate with me more. Maybe it's because they are more actor driven then special effects driven? And the special effects weren't that special by the time I watched it? I don't know. I do like all kinds of movies, even those with heavy special effects (The new Planet of the Apes series, anyone? It's brilliant). It's not something I have time to ponder. We all like what we like. 
So that's that. I can now say I saw Star Wars and I will probably see the new one coming out in December, but for the most part, I'm good. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

The One When the Webers Take a Grown up Vacation

It had been since our honeymoon that Gary and I had taken a vacation. Seven years, you guys. SEVEN! Sure, we've had a few little weekend getaways since then: Santa Barbara, Vegas, a couple trips to San Diego with the kiddos. But a real take-your-time, enjoy-the-scenery vacation? Seven years. 
We had started planning one and after some back-and-forth about where to go, we decided on Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and another couple friends of ours came too. 
I didn't really know what to expect, but this place exceeding any expectations I didn't know I had (if that makes sense!). The country was so beautiful and everyone was so nice. Our resort was stunning. Seriously, I could live there. We did have a little mix-up with our rooms when we got there, but it was quickly resolved. It's really hard to stress out about anything at this place. We had upgraded to the Elegance Club so we were able to take advantage of the many benefits that provides. It wasn't very much extra, so I would do it again in a heartbeat.

This was my first experience with an all-inclusive resort, so it took a couple days to get used to not paying for food or drinks, which was all delicious. We were also able to do various activities for free. We went kayaking one afternoon which I loved. Another day, Gary and I went out on a big innertube-type contraption and that was so much fun! 

Everyone who worked there spoke English very well, but the native language is Spanish with a lot of French speakers as well from those who came over from Haiti. I was surprised at how much of my high school Spanish came back to me. Everyone was so nice and tried to help you out if you were trying to speak Spanish to them. It made me want to take some refresher courses so I could be better next time! (Gracias a la señora DeMaster, señora Schrock, señora Medina, y Profé Logterman por ensenandome español muy bien por lo que recuerdo después 13 años). (<-- I hope that was right!)
They have a big open-air theater where they have shows every night. One night they were doing a music quiz, so we thought, "This could be fun." They would play part of a song and if you knew it, you had to run up to the stage and give the song title and singer. Thinking it was harmless to give it a shot, I went up and guessed "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. They gave the winners a small prize and had us sit on the stage. After all the songs were guessed, they threw us a curveball. The second part of the game, for a chance at a free massage at the spa, we all had to SING THE SONG WE GUESSED!!! I was freaking out! I've been singing in choirs and such my whole life practically, but solos? No way. And taking on a Whitney song? HELL NO! I did the best I could, but I was shaking so hard. Gary so lovingly got the performance on video. I suppose it wasn't as bad as I thought while I was up there, but it wasn't good either. It was a fun experience though! 

We initially weren't planning on taking any excursions outside the resort, but we got caught up by someone at the airport. According to this guy, all we had to do was go visit a new resort and we could pick an excursion at a discount. The discount was so good, we felt it was worth the 90 minutes he said it would take. Plus, we got breakfast too!  Well, breakfast was fine, but 90 minutes somehow turned into 3 hours. Our guide was a douchebag and the hotel was nice, I guess, but we all liked ours a lot better. And at the beginning, we were told this isn't a sales pitch. Well, the sales pitch we got at the end of the tour would beg to differ. By the end of it, we were all so annoyed. Fast forward to a week later when we got home and looked more into this company? We dodged a HUGE bullet. They are a big scam. Terrible reviews from pretty much everyone. Awful experiences. I don't know how they are still in business.
The plus side is our excursion was still discounted and we had a great time! We got to ride buggies into the Dominican countryside. We were introduced to a woman named Francesca and were taught a little bit about the culture of this little off-the-grid mining village. Then we got to go into a cave, which was very cool. The people who ran the excursion had turned the upper part of the cave into a little Flinstone's tribute. It was kitschy and cheesy, but it was also undeniable cute and fun. I think Gary liked the ride back the best because since we weren't making any stops, he got to drive very fast over bumpy roads. It was a blast!

I loved the country and the resort. I know with certainty we will be back! It was pretty family friendly, so maybe we'll take the kids next time! And get a swim up suite! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

An Open Letter to New Parents

Dear New Parents, or Veteran Parents, or Parents-to-Be,
It is with much certainty that I can say you either have already heard, or will hear in the nearest of futures, the phrase "Enjoy every moment, they grow up so fast." It is a lovely sentiment and I know the people who say it mean well and are saying it with love, but please let this serve as your permission to ignore it. You do not have to enjoy every moment, because let's be honest, not every moment is enjoyable. We are talking about children here, and even though they are yours and you love them with every fiber of your being and you would die for them, they are children and they can be the worst at times.
You don't have to enjoy the meltdowns in the "terrible twos" or the temper tantrums thrown by your "threenager." Or when your 5-year-old suddenly starts lying about everything and talking back to you when all you asked him to do was finish his chicken nuggets or put on his pajama pants a little bit faster than frozen molasses.
Speaking of chicken nuggets, you don't have to fondly look upon dinner time when you struggled to get your kid to eat anything other than chicken nuggets or when you other kid would eat just about anything but if you wanted her to eat more than two bites, you had to feed her yourself, lest she just play with her fork.
You don't have to soak up the moments when your kids are "playing together" and all you here are "No!" "Stop it!" "That's mine!" and all other instances of yelling and crying and doors slamming.
Or potty training (enjoy it when you can trade in the -ing for -ed). Or teething. You don't have to enjoy those moments when your baby is crying and there isn't anything you can do about it except pray that the damn tooth will just break through already.
I read an article once that said this: "There are plenty of moments in motherhood that quite honestly, I could do without...the ridiculous and nonsensical meltdowns of toddlers, siblings bickering at each other over every little thing, losing my mind and showing my ugly side to my children... We've created a myth that if we're not loving every single moment, we're doing something completely wrong. " (Sorry, I really don't mean to steal this, but I honestly don't remember where I found the article or who wrote it.)
There are going to be a multitude of wonderful moments with your children that you will hold onto, moments you will cherish for all time. Those are the moments you will look back fondly on. Those are the moments that make the not-great ones worth it. Enjoy those moments, and if you have bad ones, even phases of bad ones that seem to never end (spoiler alert: they will), don't be hard on yourself. Put the kids to bed, pour yourself a glass of wine, and look forward to tomorrow.

Grown-up Shopping

So, the older I get, the more I realize how much I really don't like shopping. I remember when I was a teenager, I used to love going shopping. Now, the though of trying on clothes makes me cringe.  So many times I've gone shopping and walked out with nothing and felt like it was just a waste of time. More often than not, I'll end up just buying clothes for my kids while I still wear the same stuff; after all, they need clothes since they are still growing.
My other issue with shopping is that it seems like clothes these days are for the young. I have a hard time finding clothes that I feel like I can wear. I'm not old--only 30--but I am a mom. I don't want to dress too young-- I'm grown up, my wardrobe should be too. But I don't want to dress too old either. I'm not fashion-challenged, but I do depend on mannequins at the store that show how you should wear certain things. And maybe I'm being hypercritical, but my waist is naturally pretty high (I have long legs), so I feel that many things that may technically fit me, don't look good on me.
All that being said, I'm really working on it. I'm working on shopping more for my body type and wearing what makes me feel good. My husband and I went shopping at the Camarillo Outlets this past weekend and it was a goal from the beginning that this was a shopping trip for us. No kids stuff (even though we did get JJ a couple pairs of jeans. He really needed them and they were only $7.99 at the Carter's outlet store, so I would be dumb to not get them!). We gave ourselves a budget and just went for it.
We started off at Tommy Hilfiger. First of all, this store takes me back because I remember wearing a lot of Tommy stuff when I was in high school. They even had Tommy Girl perfume out and that is what I used to wear. These days I'm a pretty tried-and-true Old Navy girl, and I do have Old Navy jeans, but I have to be honest: they are pretty terrible. They don't fit right. They lose their shape after about 10 minutes of wearing them and they are just not figure flattering at all. I don't mind the fit of their skinny jeans or Rock Star jeans, but the regular ones aren't doing anyone any favors. My mom gave me a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans a few months ago and I fell in love with them.  Gary also had a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans, but they got a big hole in the knee, so that left him with one pair of jeans. Total. He was in dire straits. We both ended up getting a few pairs of jeans (bonus! mine were 40% off because of a Mother's Day sale they were having!).
Next we went to the Levi store. Gary got a couple more pairs of jeans. I tried on a super cute dress, but once I got it on, it looked horrible, so back on the hanger it went. Here is also where I learned that apparently overalls for those over the age of 5 are back in. I have to admit that while I wouldn't wear them now, overalls were a huge staple of my wardrobe in high school. Everyone wore them and then all of a sudden, they were gone. Apparently, they've found their way back.
Last time we went to the outlets was the day before I was due with Kathryn, so I couldn't get anything because I was roughly the size of a house, but I remember seeing a lot of stuff I liked at Banana Republic, so that was our next stop. I have to say, I was loving it! They were also having a 50% off all women's clothes sale for Mother's Day, so score! I started pulling things off the shelves and racks like crazy. I don't know if it was the Old Navy connection that I was drawn to since they are owned by the same company, but this was what I was looking for. Cute styles, not too old, not too young. And the quality is great.  There were a couple misses in the dressing room, but most stuff was exactly what I was looking for.  Gary got a few t-shirts (which is what he needed), but they didn't really have anything else he needed right now.
We went to a few more stores and thanks to some unexpected HUGE Mother's Day sales, we ended up only spending half of our budget.
This is probably one of the most successful shopping trips I've had in years. We ended up going out to dinner and a movie afterwards and it was a great day. Even for my husband who dreads shopping! It is more encouraging when you have a different outlook on clothes. Maybe it's a bummer when something that's cute on the rack isn't so cute on you, but it isn't the end of the world. Not everything looks good on everyone, but everyone can find something that looks good on them.
Can't wait to wear my new clothes!

Post shopping cocktail. Another perk to grown-up shopping.

*End note: None of the above applies to bathing suit shopping. Terrifying.