La Brea Tar Pits

The Urbanskis (our next door neighbors) took us all on an adventure to the La Brea Tar Pits. I learned a lot at this fascinating place that i have not visited since I was little. In the middle of Los Angeles, in fact, right on miracle mile, asphalt still bubbles up from the ground. Archeologists are working, even now, to extract fossils from the sticky black substance. Mammoths, mastodons, horses, Sabre-toothed cats, and direwolves all roamed the area long before concrete came around.

Like pulling the sword from the stone, try to lift the metal poles from Tar and see what the animals were facing.

Dire wolf skulls:

Nearby art at LACMA

Then we explored the current Tar Pits.

what a fun and interesting day!

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Grief at Christmas

I’m struggling this Christmas.

I want to make it magical for my kids–because my Christmases growing up were magical–but those memories make me sad. I can’t help but think back on Christmas Eves snuggled next to my mom and little brother reading The Polar Express. I remember the feeling of being awoken by Riley on Christmas morning, letting me know that Santa had come. Or both Riley and I being awoken by our dad (we were great sleepers). Of climbing excitedly into my parents’ bed and waiting while one of them went downstairs to start the coffee. As I think about how I can make my boys’ Christmas as exciting and wonder-filled, I can’t help but stumble, again and again, on the deep dark hole of my own loss.

My brother. My co-pilot on the journey of childhood.

Even tonight, I realized I was looking forward to spending time with my brother, the adult, and only then did I remember that I wouldn’t be seeing him. Not on Christmas, or anywhere else in my life on Earth. I try to tell myself that at least i know he is safe…but even knowing where he is doesn’t make my own grief feel any better. I feel loss so acutely. It’s like a hot ember I hold in my hand. I am shielding it from the world because it’s private, it’s mine; also because I don’t know who would understand, or who to talk to who isn’t tired of hearing about it. Even if I knew who to talk to, I don’t have any more words to say.

I’m just so sad.

That’s all that comes to mind, over and over.

So I sit here, drowning quietly in my grief, watching time pass so quickly with my kids, trying to give them a glimpse of an experience that is so out of reach for me now, for so many reasons.

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A special day for Jacob with Grammie and OT

Jacob celebrated his sixth birthday with a special gift–a trip to Santa Monica Pier funzone with Grammie and OT. He came home bubbling with excitement after such a special day, and a little power nap on the drive home. 🙂

What a special day for this guy!!

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A visit to Santa

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Happy birthday, Jacob

From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you were special. No one has ever made me smile as wide as you do. From your cute laugh, your dimples, and your sweet, scratchy voice, to your dancing bootie, you are a unique and wonderful masterpiece. You are kind, caring, smart, and just all around amazing. I am so proud of you.

Watch Jacob’s sixth year slideshow here:

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Jacob’s Harry Potter 6th Birthday Party

My little Jacob is a huge Harry Potter fan, and of course, so am I, so it only made sense to transform our new house in Hogwarts for his birthday party this year. We held the party a month early, so that it could occur before my mom’s back surgery, but I can tell you that, as busy as I am this week with Christmas/school/life, I couldn’t imagine hosting a party of this magnitude this weekend!

This party was not only adorable, but SO much fun! We went crazy with Hogwarts details and tried to be as authentic as possible.

A wonderful party guest took all of the fun action shots, for which I am eternally grateful (thank you, Thomas O.!)

We had pumpkin juice and butter beer (both delicious!), as well as pumpkin pasties and chocolate frogs, because no trip to Hogwarts is complete without them. There were gold-rimmed goblets for drinking, and miniature cauldrons of veggies and ranch dressing for snacking.

We sorted the kids as they entered. I would place the sorting hat on the child’s head and have her close her eyes and draw a rubber bracelet from a cauldron. The bracelets were Harry Potter houses, and that was the house one was sorted into. Then each child got a corresponding tie, picked a wand, and made a quill. We had quidditch hoops, made by my dad, for the kids to hit balloons through. A Voldemort piñata was destroyed by our brave wizards and witches, and then we settled in to watch Jacob’s sixth birthday slideshow (that link is coming!)


I made these Bertie Boots containers from a free printable online.


The windows are lamination plastic!


A simple and quick craft.


The monster book of monsters cake!



Pumpkin pasties. Yum.



The Tri-Wizard Cup? From my parents’ house.


Our flying keys. So pretty!



One has a bent wing, for authenticity’s sake.



I stuck these on all the walls.


Our sorting hat and cauldron for sorting.


Inside the house, you’re at platform 9 3/4.



After sorting, the kids got a house tie…


…and picked a wand, made with chopsticks, string, and hot glue.


Bookmark favors, found online and laminated.


Make-a-quill station.



As you approach the house, you are transported to Kings Cross Station in London.



The invitation told guests to run straight at the pillar between platforms nine and ten. Our pillar would transport you inside to Platform 9 3/4.




My cousin Charlotte made these darling cookies!


Alisha made this CUTEST cake topper ever!!!



Floating candles do not photograph well.


But they were so cool!! I spent a lot of time converting toilet paper and paper towel rolls into these candles with hot glue, and THREE cans of spray paint!



We even flew a Union Jack for the occasion.



By the end of the night, some of our photos had fallen. Pro tip: Command strips?



Follow the spiders, Ron!


Don’t pay any attention to the pajama-clad photographer. 😉



Hogwarts bathroom had to include Moaning Myrtle.


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Jacob’s Kindergarten Holiday Program

On Friday, we were treated to some seasonal songs by the Kindergarteners, first- and second-graders at Jacob’s school. It was just adorable! Jacob scanned the audience for us, and when he saw me, Grammie, Daddy and Jackie, his face lit up and he was all dimples. 🙂

If the video above doesn’t load, here are two smaller clips:

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Christmastime is here

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Jacob is excited for Christmas

“I love Christmas” Jacob said. “I love lights and beanstalks and presents!”


“Yeah! We hang them here” he gestures to the mantle “and Santa fills them!”

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Thanksgiving at kindergarten

Jacob’s class baked pumpkin pies!

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