Friday, November 6, 2015

Big News: A Big Move!

We've got big news around here...


We are saying goodbye to Northern California and hello to North Carolina!

I'm so excited anxious nervous stressed happy hopeful grateful.

OK, I'm a mess. But I am pulling it together along with James, who, as you might imagine, is not a mess, and we are hiring movers and making phone calls and doing paperwork and getting ready to pack our worldly possessions into boxes in a moving truck! Whew! It's a lot, and it's happening fast. We will be saying our California goodbyes before Thanksgiving. 

James and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007 just weeks after our wedding. 

2007, just after we arrived in CA

Over the past 8 years, we've enjoyed California's beautiful mountains, beaches, and redwood forests. We've been spoiled by San Francisco's amazing restaurants, museums, and festivals. We've toasted many celebrations with California wines and brews (wine tasting in Napa might just be my favorite thing to do in NorCal!). We've been here to cheer on our San Francisco Giants to three World Series wins. We have made friendships that we hope will last a lifetime. We have loved being close to our west coast cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course, our Lola Coring. We arrived as newlyweds, and we will leave as a family of four. California will always be a special place for us, and an important part of our family's story.

Though there will be a lot of things that we'll miss about our home here by the bay, we are looking forward to new adventures awaiting us in North Carolina. 

James is excited about his new position at Duke University - back to the field of biomechanics and orthopedics which was the focus of his doctorate research at Stanford. North Carolina is beautiful and the Raleigh-Durham area where we'll be is really charming. We are looking forward to being closer to our parents and the rest of our east coast family, and we even have a few friends in Raleigh and Durham. 

We have been wanting to re-locate to the east coast for the past year or so, and we are thrilled and thankful to finally have the opportunity. It's bittersweet, of course, but we really believe that this move is the right thing for our family right now. 

So, cheers farewell to California! And cheers hello to North Carolina! 

Send us prayers, wish us luck!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween 2015: Jurassic World!

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!! We had some Halloween fun despite Henry still being under the weather. And our family costume pics turned out so much better than I had imagined! 

Calvin and Henry love dinosaurs, so James and I decided to do a little spin on their dinosaur costumes since the movie Jurassic World came out this past summer. James and I very rarely get to go to the movies, but we did manage to get out and see this one. The boys, of course, don't know anything about Jurassic World - they're too little for that one - so we explained our costumes to them by saying that we were "friends of dinosaurs." ;) James is dressed as Chris Pratt's character, Owen, the "dinosaur whisperer" who trains velociraptors in the movie. I'm supposed to be Bryce Dallas Howard's character, Claire, who is the operations manager of the dinosaur theme park and spends a lot of time on her cell phone, if you ask me. Calvin would tell you that he and Henry are T-rexes, but for the purposes of the Jurassic World theme, they could also be two of Owen's clever and cunning raptors. 

If you haven't seen the film, here are some stills from the movie from

And here's our version: 

This backdrop at the zoo was perfect for these themed costume pics! And we really just kind of lucked out, we hadn't planned this out ahead of time. We had brought the boys to the zoo just as a Halloween treat, and Calvin was asking to go see the rainforest building. This dinosaur-swampy area is just outside the rainforest building and there happened to be a zoo docent sitting by this dinosaur swamp area taking her break and she was kind enough to snap a few photos for us! I still can't believe how great these turned out. You can tell that Henry was not really a happy camper, but a grumpy toddler makes a decent velociraptor, ha ha. He also would not wear his dinosaur head, even when he wasn't feeling sick, but we decided it was not worth worrying about!

It was a great day to be at the zoo! The big zoo Halloween party was actually the weekend before, so it was pretty quiet on Halloween. Of course we had to let Calvin ride the zoo train in his dinosaur costume and pretend he was riding the Dinosaur Train! 

Later that afternoon, James carved some special dinosaur jack-o-lanterns, as commissioned by Calvin. He did an awesome job! We call them Pumpkinceratops and Pumpkinsaurus Rex.

Poor sick Henry went to bed early with a fever, but Calvin got to go to a Halloween party at our friends' house and do a little trick-or-treating. 

And now it's November!! Can you believe it?? 

How did you spend your Halloween? Any other family theme costumes? 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wellness Wednesday: A Sniffly, Feverish Fall

I was thinking about Halloween last year and the year before and I realized that October has not been a great month for health and wellness around here for the past couple of years! Last year, Henry had his surgery in early October, though he was all recovered by Halloween. The year before that, when Henry was just a teeny baby, James, Calvin & I all got the stomach flu the weekend before Halloween and it was just as awful as you can imagine!! **Shudder**

This year, we started the month off with runny noses - first Henry, then Calvin. So Henry missed some therapies because I never want to bring him to clinic with any kind of sick germs. He puts his mouth on everything, and in a place with lots of other special needs kids you never know what kind of medical/immunological stuff they've got going on. I don't want to make a medically fragile kid sick with my kid's germs! Since Henry and Calvin always seem to take turns being sick, the runny noses lasted at least two weeks. But happily the boys didn't have any other symptoms and seemed to be feeling fine. I let Calvin take his runny nose to school. At least he doesn't put stuff in his mouth anymore ;)

So first runny noses, and now fever! I mentioned on Instagram and Facebook that Calvin was sick all last week. He woke up Monday morning with a fever and the fever lasted 3 days, followed up by a hacking cough that lasted another 3 days. He missed a whole week of preschool. 

That whole week, Henry was fine but I had to cancel some of his therapy appointments again because I would have had to bring Calvin and all his germs along. Being stuck at home with Henry and sick Calvin was a total drag. We were cooped up in the house for a week and it made me feel kinda lazy and restless. It's partly my own fault. I should have taken them out for walks or found at least some way to get us out of the house!

By this past Monday morning, Calvin was all better, he'd been fine all day Sunday as well, and he and I were both really happy that he was going to be able to go back to school! Henry had a therapy appointment, I had errands to run, I was showered and dressed and genuinely looking forward to getting back to our usual busy schedule. And as I was standing in the line of parents to sign Calvin in at school, I had Henry in the Ergo and I leaned my head down and kissed his forehead... and it was HOT. Of course. Henry had caught Calvin's fever a whole week later. 

So here we are. Another sick kid lying around feeling pitiful. Canceling therapy appointments again. At least Calvin's in school, though. But why do they have to take turns getting sick??? I feel like I'd rather just get it over with and have them sick at the same time! Though, I realize that taking care of two kids feeling pitiful is probably really tough. 

Parents with little kids, does this happen to your family? Do your kids take turns getting sick or do they get sick at the same time? And does it drive you crazy like it does me???

At least I'm not sick. *Knocks on wood.* 

More Halloween Tot Play: Get Sticky, Slippery and Sparkly!

Halloween is almost here! Here are two more of our Spooky Play activities, plus a couple of Halloween crafts. 

Giant Sticky Web
I made this web out of masking tape and washi tape (after I ran out of masking tape). I put the tape sticky-side-out so that we could throw little "flies" at it and hopefully catch some. The "flies" were little crumpled up pieces of black construction paper and catalog pages from some kids clothing catalog that came in the mail. Calvin helped tear and crumple the paper "flies." It was actually pretty hard to get them on there by throwing! Maybe if I had stickier tape... or better aim!! Calvin preferred to stand next to it and stick the paper on. You can see all his "flies" in the bottom left corner!

Sticky Wall with Halloween Items

A sticky contact paper wall is fun anytime! This is one of the ways I attempted to keep Calvin busy while he was home from school with a cough. You just tape big sheets of contact paper sticky-side-out on a wall or door. I had Calvin help hold the paper up while I taped it onto the closet doors with painter's tape.

I made it Halloween-y with bats leftover from our Halloween cards (see the next activity), big googly eyes, big sparkly sequins, plastic spiders, and orange triangles cut from scrap paper. Later, we also made a spider web on the sticky wall using pieces of white string. 

Batty Halloween Cards

Spoiler alert to Calvin and Henry's grandparents and great-grands! As I'm writing, these cards are en route to you! 

I wish I could give credit to the mom-blogger I first saw this from, but once again I can't remember which one it was!! To whoever it was: Thanks for the great idea!!

I drew bats on some cardstock and cut them out, then taped them to black cards (also cut from cardstock) using painter's tape. Then I had the boys help me paint some white, yellow, and orange tempera paint over the bats, making sure to get beyond the edges of the bat shapes. After the paint dried, we added some glitter glue on top.

When they were completely dry, I peeled the bats off. The glitter glue did make this difficult. It would have been easier with just the paint. 

I added a piece of orange cardstock to the back of each card so that I could write a greeting. And now they're off in the mail! 

Pumpkin Painting

I thought I could contain this paint mess by spreading out some butcher paper on the floor. Silly me. 

Part of my Contain the Mess plan was to have Henry roll his pumpkin around in paint inside a shoebox rather than have him try a brush or just set him loose with plates of paint... As you can see he ended up loose with the plates of paint anyway!! 

The box thing worked at first. I drizzled a few colors of paint over his pumpkin in the box and let him roll it around. The problem started when I tried to take pictures... at which point Henry rolled the pumpkin out of the box and across the floor... and then chased it across the floor with his paint-covered hands... and found the other plates of paint Calvin was using.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure he ate some paint. 

Meanwhile, Calvin was being relatively civilized with his pumpkin painting. I had set out a few plates with different colored paints and a brush for each color. He did a little body painting, as he likes to do :) and he and I painted our pumpkins with the brushes. 

Glitter Pumpkins

I was both excited and afraid to do glitter pumpkins with Calvin. I decided I definitely wasn't brave enough to get Henry involved with glitter, so I gave him a little sheet of contact paper to play with instead.

I let Calvin choose 4 colors of glitter from a set of little tubes of fine glitter that I have from Michaels. He picked the green one, and three shades of purple! I was like, "Don't you want blue...? Or pink...? Something besides more purple?" And he was like, No. All the purples. 

So I poured a little of each color glitter into separate cups and I had a spoon for each one, though we didn't really need all the spoons. I put the pumpkins on plates to catch the glitter, and I taped brown paper over the table to catch whatever the plates didn't catch (glitter is sneaky). 

I painted each pumpkin with glue and we used the spoons to scoop and pour the glitter over the pumpkins. 

Here's where I have to admit that I became kind of a control freak about the project and I pretty much would not let Calvin spoon the glitter by himself. He could have done it, but it would have been more messy. And I probably should have let him go for it and dealt with the mess later. That is usually my M.O. But this time, my inner control freak got the best of me and we did most of the glitter scooping-and-pouring "hand over hand" style, meaning that he was holding the spoon and I was holding his hand and steering him. 

The finished glitter pumpkins are so pretty and sparkly! I feel a little guilty every time I look at them though! Maybe in the future I will be able to relax a bit more and let him have at it with the glitter. Also, I think glitter might be a good outdoor craft project next time. 

Anybody have tips for letting your toddlers use glitter without having a nervous breakdown?? Or tips for cleaning up glitter??

Did your family decorate or carve pumpkins this year? We haven't carved our big ones yet. Last year we carved them too soon and they rotted before Halloween! But I am enjoying our little painted and glitter pumpkins on the mantel. 

Happy Haunting ;)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

TBT: Halloween Countdown 2014

Baby Harry Potter and Hedwig are here to tell you... It's almost Halloween! Again!

And though it's not quite a week 'til Halloween yet, it is Thursday so for your #TBT from me, here are last year's Halloween Countdown posts! In case you're interested in some inspiration for Halloween-themed play :)

Click on the pics! Each one will take you to the post for that activity. 

If you do happen to do any of these crafts or activities and share them, tag me on Instagram @dianapancakes, because I'd love to see it! And if you have your own favorite Halloween activities, do share! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Spooky Shadow Puppets

This has been Calvin's favorite Halloween-themed play so far! It was inspired by our #spookyplayeveryday photo round-up on Instagram. 

It was the same day as my online Jamberry party on Facebook and I kept forgetting about the spooky play thing. It was one of those mom-brain things where I'd remember for a sec and think, "Oh! I'm supposed to make shadow puppets because the word of the day is shadow!" And within seconds I'd get distracted by something else and I'd forget about the shadow puppets.

I finally remembered again after dinner, and by that time it was so late I aaaalmost decided to just forget it and skip that day. But I had dreamed up these shadow puppets and I knew they were going to be cool... and my inner perfectionist cringed at the idea of skipping a day. So like the stellar procrastinator that I am, I pulled it together at the last minute! Seriously, I started making the puppets at like 6:45pm and my online Jamberry party was starting at 7. James had just gotten home from work, and I, like, threw the puppets and flashlights at him and said, "Here! Shadow puppets. Go!" 

Before long, I could hear Calvin laughing so hard that I had to go see what fun those silly boys were having!

Calvin thought this cat and pumpkin game was HILARIOUS. And he has played with the shadow puppets several times since then, including trying to play with them during the day in the bedroom when it is not dark enough! Hey, I'm glad they were a hit! 

Here's how I made them:

I used cardstock and wooden BBQ skewers. The cardstock I used was some scrapbook paper from an old Mat Stack, and it was paper I was never going to use for anything else because I, um, think it's ugly. 

I have a bunch of Halloween cookie cutters, which, lets be real, are obviously for play-dough and not for actual cookies because I hate baking. And here I found yet another non-baking use for them! I used them as tracers for the shadow puppets! 

If I hadn't had these cookie cutters, I might have freehanded some shapes (easy ones like a moon, a bat, a pumpkin....), but if drawing sounds scary to you, you could always print some Halloween clip art and use it as tracers. Or, better yet, print it right on the cardstock. 

I cut out my shapes and taped them to skewers, and Voila! Shadow puppets!

Spooky, shadowy fun!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Camping at Anthony Chabot Regional Park

Apparently we never go to the same campground twice. We've been on six camping trips since the kids were born, to six different parks! We've camped in very different areas of northern CA, and each has been beautiful in its own way. This time we were off to the East Bay to Anthony Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley. 

We got to our campsite really late this time because we left after James got finished at work, and it was a bit of a drive. So we set up our tent and ate our late supper by the light of our headlamps, then after Henry went to bed, James lit a campfire and we had some S'mores. 

James setting up the beds in the tent with a little "help."
During the night we woke to the sound of a light rain. We knew there was a chance of rain on the forecast, but we didn't really believe it would happen! Luckily, I did pack our rain jackets. By morning, though, it wasn't really raining, just a heavy fog and some dripping from the trees. The fog gave the campground an eerie, kind of mysterious atmosphere. 

Pancakes for breakfast, of course! Our camping tradition. This time we got it right and picked a "just add water" mix: the Toasted Coconut Pancake Mix from Trader Joe's, and oh man, these pancakes were like dessert for breakfast! So yummy!!

James and Calvin played with bubbles in the fog. Calvin chased the bubbles around the campsite and watched them drift off over the hill.

We brought Henry's walker again so he could get a little practice.

James and I had a bet going on whether the sun would actually come out that day. I thought it was going to stay foggy. We bet Sunday's breakfast dishes. I lost and the fog did burn off, but James did the dishes anyway :)

We hung around the campsite all morning and Henry took his nap after lunch. James and I actually managed to play a card game, Council of Verona. 

Lounging in the cabana with He Who Will Not Nap.

Our campsite was actually on a cliff overlooking Lake Chabot. Later in the afternoon, once the sun was up and Henry had napped, we drove over to the marina and rented a boat for a ride on the lake. These boys love boating!

Another campsite dinner, and after dinner we played with glow sticks as it got dark until it was time to put Henry to bed and make the campfire. We usually don't let Henry stay up for campfire time because Danger. Also, he seems to need more sleep than Calvin. 

No rain the second night, and no fog the next day. Just some low clouds over the lake that burned off pretty early.

We packed up right after breakfast on Sunday and headed home. 

Another family camping trip in the books! Very chill. We find that with camping, yes, there is a LOT of work in the set up and clean-up, but the payoff is the chance to hang out with the family off the grid, surrounded by some beautiful scenery. We like the calm. The space. We like the chance for our city-living boys to get dirty out in nature. We think it's worth the work ;)