Our New Stroller

I’ve been wanting a double stroller for the boys for quite some time. The problem is that most double strollers are a complete waste of time and money. Once you put over 60 lbs. of two kids into them, they are impossible to steer and an absolute pain to push. And don’t get me started on how much trunk space they take up! Courtney and I used to joke that she’d need an extra car just to drive around her stroller.

I’ve heard great things about the BOB stroller line, but I’ve always hated the price tag. Lately though, I’ve been finding myself wanting to go on walks. We live just a 5 minute walk from our main grocery center in Atascadero, and it’d be fun not to use the car every once and a while. We have no sidewalks, however, being out in the country and all, and our roads are quite steep and often mostly gravel.

We also have a day trip to the Midstate Fair planned for tomorrow, along with Big Sur next week. I convinced Jesse that if there were ever a time to get a double stroller, now would be it.

In turn, he reminded me of our commitment to staying on a budget. $400-500 doesn’t exactly fit in, you know what I mean?

But there’s this thing called determination. When I want to buy something, I find a way. I move mountains if I have to. It’s both a very admirable quality, and also a little scary. Why can’t I have this kind of mad perseverance when it comes to prayer?

But I digress. I knew that the only way to get a stroller was to raise the money myself. So, with the help of my sister (who pulled stuff out of my parents’ garage for me), I listed EVERYTHING that we’ve had lying around. Does anyone else have a few things in their garage that they “might want to sell someday”? After 3 moves in the past 2 years, we have a lot of them.

In FOUR HOURS, I made $260.

Hooray, I thought! Now I can go on Craigslist and buy the first BOB stroller I see!

Wrong. I didn’t factor in the fact EVERY SINGLE STROLLER LISTING was written by rude people who never answer their phones or check their email.

I emailed dozens of people over the course of 3 days. Only ONE reply, telling me the item was sold (the listing is still up as we speak. Why are people so rude???).  How hard is it to text back, “No, I want more $ than that”, or, “Sorry, sold”???

I got pretty fed up. So I posted this little number:

Jogging Stroller

Did I really post that? Yes. Was it un-Christian of me? Probably. I do feel bad about it, somewhere deep down under the blind determination that I feel when I want something for my babies. Also, there may or may not have been some PMS crazy affecting me too. And I’m semi-insane without Jesse, who’s been working at the Midstate Fair until 1am the last couple nights.

Whatever. No excuses.

But it worked!!! Within 30 minutes, I got an email from a woman who had been thinking about selling her BOB and got on Craiglist to price compare. My ad was the first that came up.

We met at the park 3 hours later and voila! We now own a like-new BOB stroller for only $60 out of pocket cash!

We went on a walk tonight, and I can already tell that this thing is worth EVERY LAST penny. I was able to turn it with one hand. The boys were super comfy and made up songs together in the seat while I jogged along. Did I also mention that the stroller only take up half of our trunk? And I can fold it up with one hand? Wowza! It’s like the wizard of all strollers!

Alls well that ends well.

July Walk 2013 5

Here were a few pictures from our walk tonight. We live in such a gorgeous neighborhood! I guess I didn’t quite realize how nice the streets are around us.

July Walk 2013 1 July Walk 2013 3 July Walk 2013 4

However fun the walk, it’s always nice to come back to our home sweet home on a hill. 🙂

July Walk 2013 2

July LA Trip

This past weekend, we travelled down to see TONS of friends in the LA/Orange County area. We have a huge community of friends down there, left over from both college and our early Orthodox days at St. Barnabas.

Our first stop was a July 4th celebration at Mitch and Trenna’s (our godparents) wonderful house in Yorba Linda. They had invited the entire godfamily AND their kids and grandkids. It was a sight to behold– over 20 kids, running crazy, along with around 40 adults. We haven’t been down to see any of them since I was preggo with Anthony, so we had a lot of catching up to do! It was heavenly.

July LA Trip 1

Because Trenna has 5 grandkids, she has a wonderful yard for playing. G got busy right away (after being in the car for 5 hours straight, it must’ve felt awesome to run around and jump in water!). There were kiddie pools, a slip n slide, yummy snacks, a playhouse, and an activity water table!

July LA Trip 22

Gregory and Jo-jo remembered each other from Elise's wedding last year, so they picked up right where they left off

Gregory and Jo-jo remembered each other from Elise’s wedding last year, so they picked up right where they left off

We lost sight of G for a short while (which was okay, because the whole yard was fenced), and when we noticed him again, he had jumped into a kiddie pool, clothes and shoes and all! He was in seventh heaven.

July LA Trip 23

July LA Trip 21

I took this picture of Jesse and 2 of our godbrothers, Elmo and Tim

Trenna also had a “grandkids” room, complete with a crib, a twin bed, and a full bed. After the party was over, we were able to put the kids to sleep and then talk to Mitch and Trenna for hours over a cup of coffee. Again, SO HEAVENLY!
The next day, Trenna made us omelettes using fresh veggies from her garden. Then, her son and daughter in law, Alex and Emily, came over with their two kids, Olivia (Gregory’s age) and Mia (2 months old). Gregory and “Livy” quickly got to playing house. Funny enough, Gregory was way more into it than she was!
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When it was time to go, they gave each other the cutest hugs.July LA Trip 12
After Anthony had a LONG nap in the crib, we packed the kids in the car and headed to the Shelbys for a type of “college reunion”. With the exception of the Unruhs and Jason who weren’t present, these people were our BEST friends throughout college. Jesse even lived with most of them in a house, at one point. It’s so special to be able to go back and watch all of our offspring play together!
The whole group, later that evening

The whole group, later that evening

Gregory and Annalyse were partners in crime the entire day. They actually had a planned attack to corner the cat at one point! They shared and played so well that Gregory has been asking to play with her ever since.

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We spent Friday night at the Shelbys in their 2nd bedroom. Saturday morning, we made a breakfast scramble of all the leftover grilled veggies and steak. Then, we headed out to their apartment complex’s pool!

Late Saturday afternoon, we packed the kids in the car and headed to Corona to spend the night at Jesse’s brother’s girlfriend’s house. It was in a newer development in Corona, so it was HUGE and practically brand new. AND we had it all to ourselves since the family had other plans that night.

Also, there was a gorgeous pool with a hilltop view of the valley. Jesse and David swam with the boys while I headed down for some alone time at the giant mall (ANTHROPOLOGIE!!!). But I did manage to take some pictures when I got back.

July LA Trip 9

July LA Trip 8

He kept yelling, “Momma! I got smoochies! Dadda gave me smoochies!”

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We’ve discovered that Anthony pretty much hates the water, so he sat with me on the deck and chewed on his boat.

July LA Trip 6

Sunday morning, we went to St. Andrew’s church in Riverside. Normally, we would go to St. Barnabas, our home church where we were chrismated 6 years ago. They were holding a Parish Life Conference, however, so most of St. Barnabas (including our godfamily) decided to go to their sister church, St. Andrews. They just had their church building finished last year, and it is GORGEOUS. Probably the biggest Orthodox church I’ve ever been to! Fr. Josiah modeled it after a church he visited in the Holy Land.
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Temple-and-Congregation
I didn’t realize just how many people were packed inside until it came time for communion. There were over EIGHTY children in line (all the kids go first so that they can make it to Sunday School)! They just kept coming and coming and coming.
Just a few of the kids, in the choir

Just a few of the kids, in the choir

When it was the adults’ turn for communion, the children joined the choir and sang all by themselves for a good 20 minutes. It was so cute, and it brought tears to my eyes. It truly felt like we were in heaven, worshipping with the angels.
After church was over, our godfamily decided to skip coffee hour (it was a zoo, given the hundreds of people) and go down the street to eat at a pizza/pita place. This was primarily Robin’s idea, mostly because there was a fountain for Jojo and Gregory to splash in. And SPLASH they did! We ate and talked in peace for hours, and they were happily entertained!
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This is not our entire godfamily (there are THIRTY-TWO of us, turns out!), but we had quite a turnout. You can see that Gregory was not excited about leaving his beloved fountain.
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Once we were done eating, we grabbed some Starbucks, changed the boys into dry clothes, and drove 6 hours straight home from Riverside! The boys slept the entire way, stopping only once in Oxnard for In n Out.
Overall, it was an AMAZING trip. We did the entire thing for under $150, and it will definitely be remembered as one of the highlights from this summer! We can’t wait to do it again!

Summer Vacay thus far

We’ve been super busy thus far this summer!

We’ve attended two weddings:

The Sobey Wedding: (side note: I cried when the groom also presented rings to the bride’s two little girls, symbolizing how he was becoming their father).

Sobey Wedding 5

All of their kids below them

Sobey Wedding 1 Sobey Wedding 3 Sobey Wedding 4

 

The Brooks Wedding:

Brooks Wedding 4

The only photo of the couple that I could steal from Facebook, since they are still not letting any wedding pictures be posted!

Brooks Wedding 1

With my high school friend Stephanie and her two month old baby! BABY FEVER, I tell you!

Brooks Wedding 2

Me with my boss

Brooks Wedding 3

Gregory flat out refused to dance with me, and instead bopped to the beat by himself in a corner

 

 

We had my niece Rachel’s Graduation Party:

Rachels Grad Party 1

3 legged race!

Rachel's Grad Party 2

As you can see, Jesse and I were WAYYY behind everyone else. Next to us is my brother in law David and my (future?) sister in law, Emily!

Rachel's Grad Party 3

AJ was too pooped to party and fell asleep on Aunt Janelle’s lap

 

 

Last but not least, we’ve been to the beach twice and plan on going again this Friday!

School Beach Day 2

At Pismo Beach with our school

Avila Beach Day 2

At Avila Beach last week with just our lil fam

 

Avila Beach Day 1

Right here, you see the difference between my children. Gregory is screaming with joy, and Anthony is howling in terror.

Avila Beach Day 3

Due to Anthony’s fear of the waves, he and I spent most of the time watching from a safe distance, eating sand

Avila Beach Day 4

Gregory definitely got knocked around by a few waves

Avila Beach Day 5

Dadda and Gregory playing catch

 

We have many more summer trips planned, including *a trip to LA (next week), * a trip to Sacramento/San Francisco (the following week), * another trip to LA when the Unruhs are in town, * a family trip to north Seattle (possibly), and a * trip out to TX (possibly). Oh, and Big Sur camping! Can’t forget that!

Mother’s Day

This past weekend, we travelled up to Sacramento to visit Caitlin, our someday-to-be adopted daughter. I haven’t really blogged about it, but about 2 months ago, Caitlin left us to stay in a group home for a little while. She is making significant progress, however, and will hopefully return to us soon!

Until then, we are allowed to visit her as much as our schedule can afford. We decided that since every weekend until mid-June is packed, now was the time! We drove the 6 hours up on Saturday morning, only stopping one time for lunch. The boys were amazing– we couldn’t have asked for more. They slept the entire way!

In the afternoon, we picked Caitlin up for snacks at Jamba Juice, then played at the park. After a little while, we went to dinner at Panera Bread, where we ordered something like 30+ servings of mac and cheese 😉

All of my kiddos, together :)

All of my kiddos, together 🙂

After dinner, we dropped Caitlin back at her house, then drove 10 minutes to our hotel. Surprisingly, the boys did quite well sleeping in the same room as us! Gregory got his own queen-sized bed (he was facing a different way each time we checked on him!), and we put Anthony in a pack n play. We have a little trick for making it feel like his own room– tucking it against the wall/ac unit, and pulling the heavy hotel curtain around the sides! Blocks the light and keeps him from seeing us.

Sunday morning, we woke up early, checked out of our hotel, picked up Caitlin, and made it to church in downtown Sacramento (we were even early! Surprises!). Once we were done, we ate lunch at The Habit (such yummy burgers! ILOVEMEAT!!!!), then headed to the Sacramento zoo.

The giraffe came RIGHT up to the fence!

The giraffe came RIGHT up to the fence!

It was about a million degrees hot at the zoo, so although we had lots of water with us, we still headed straight to the nearest Jamba Juice for another “fix”. YUMMM.

After a tearful goodbye with Caitlin (we already miss her soo much!), Jesse and I headed home. We stopped at the Gilroy Outlets (love me some Gap Outlet! Bought some awesome skinny jeans!), and ate a Mother’s Day dinner at Mimi’s Cafe.

We are so exhausted, getting back at 11pm and then heading back into such a busy work week, but we are so glad we did it!

Cheap Landscaping

I haven’t been feeling well the past week, so I’ve failed to post a few updates!

Since I last posted pictures of the outside of our house, I’ve added a few things to help.

Yard 7

What it looked like a few weeks ago

Yard 6

Just a few daffodils  and lavender bushes planted

Yard 2

Big bushes are expensive, so I was advised to get small ones and then let them grow for a few years to fill out the space

 

After a few trips here and there to Home Depot, along with a couple mornings in the sun with Gregory when we felt cooped up, it looks a lot better!

Side Yard 2

What it looks like now! (excuse the afternoon shadow– I was unwilling to wait for the same time of day). There are 2 sunflowers and 6 deer resistant bushes (waxy leaves– they’d have to be super hungry to eat these!

Side Yard 1

Side Yard 3

Gregory pretends that this is a lawnmower.

Side Yard 4

Side Yard 5

Still needs a little more bark near the lavender, but I ran out!

The little shrub bushes were $4-5/each, the bark was $8 total, and the rocks were all free from our backyard! Gregory and I made a game out of it, piling rocks into a flower pot, then carting them over to this side of the house.
The entire thing cost under $50! It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but it really makes this side of the house look cared for. Since it’s the first thing we see every day when we drive up, it’s rather important!

Happy Hollows

 

Since I knew that Jesse wanted to spend 2-3 days at a monastery with a friend of ours, I decided to make my own plans for a change (anyone who knows me also knows that I am very bad at taking initiative and planning fun things to do).

I’d heard about a theme park/zoo geared towards kids ages 2-7 called Happy Hollows up in San Jose. I emailed my friend Stephanie who has two kids ages 2 and 1 with another on the way. She said she’d been meaning to try it out as well, so we made plans for a day trip!

All in all, it took us 2.5 hours to get there, which meant 5+ hours of driving. We had to stop a total of 5-6 times (depends on if you count off-ramp stops in order to get thrown toys or sippy cups!). Also, admission was free with a Charles Paddock zoo pass, which both of us have (although I couldn’t find mine, so I had to pay around $25…still, not bad!).

Happy Hollows Trip 1

We used Steph’s new van for all 4 carseats!

Happy Hollows Trip 6

Steph lent me her double Phil and Ted stroller and she used her double BOB. I LOVED this thing! Even with 2 kids and a diaper bag, I could steer with one hand, and it was awesome amidst all the crowds

Happy Hollows Trip 2

Anthony was super chill for most of the day, which was crazy considering he had sat in a carseat for 3 hours in the morning!

Happy Hollows Trip 3

Our very first ride. Gregory was skeptical at first, but was cackling with glee by the end of it. Once he got off the ride, he did his “happy dance”, so I’m pretty sure it was a hit

Happy Hollows Trip 15

The Bug Ride

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Danny the Dragon

Happy Hollows Trip 4

They had a fun crooked house to explore– mirrors, a child sized table and chairs, and a slide that took them from the 2nd story back down to the ground

Happy Hollows Trip 12

This was the big roller coaster in the park. Gregory was barely tall enough to ride on it, but he seemed super psyched, so I let him

Happy Hollows Trip 13

The second of the big hills. It actually went a lot faster than I had thought from watching it

 

Happy Hollows Trip 14

I don’t know if you could see here, but he was NOT happy. When we got off the ride, he clapped, but then when I asked him if he had fun, he gave me a super serious “look” and said, “SCARED, Momma. Scared.”

 

Happy Hollows Trip 8

Our 2nd time on the cars, Anthony gave it a go. He wasn’t too happy at first…

Happy Hollows Trip 5

But then he warmed up to it 🙂

Happy Hollows Trip 10

All 4 of them!

Happy Hollows Trip 18

Do not be fooled by this face. He loved this. I think that because he didn’t have a nap, he was in a daze by the end of the day

Happy Hollows Trip 9

The neat bridges that go back to the parking lot

It was definitely a lot of fun! As an added bonus, the kids of been sleeping nearly ALL day, so it tired them out!

A Visit

This weekend, Ben and Buddy came to visit us. Here are just a few highlights:

Gregory showing his tummy 3:2013

Gregory hammed it up all weekend

Daou Arch Gate smaller

We went wine tasting at Daou Vineyards

TRBarPatio

You can see why people like coming here to hang out and enjoy a glass of wine! They also sell food and cheese pairings (or you can just bring a picnic lunch!).

Wine Tasting 4

A view from the parking lot

Wine Tasting 3

Buddy and Jesse, not sure what to expect

 

Wine Tasting 1

They had lounge chairs everywhere in order to enjoy the view

Wine Tasting 2

The view was almost as amazing as the wine

Gregory and Uncle Buddy 3:2013

After picking up the kids from my parents, we all went home, ate dinner and read books

 

 

500 square feet!

I can not get over this San Francisco House Tour! 2 adults and 2 little boys, all living in 500 square feet? It’s incredible!

jordan-ferney-apartment-san-francisco-small-apartment-tips-kids-room-

Living in the New House

We have now been in our new house for 12 days. 12 whole days!! It’s hard to believe how the time has flown.

While the journey it took to get here was miserable (I officially hate house hunting!), it is SOO worth it now. I’ve never known the wonderful feeling of actually owning where we live, and it’s incredible. Jesse feels it too. He’s been Mr. Fixit man around here, installing curtains, our washer and dryer, our BRAND NEW stove (yay!), brackets, shelves, you name it. In fact, he did so much work last Monday that the power drill, fully charged at the beginning of the day, had run out of battery by the evening. And he kept going anyways, doing things by hand. Seriously!

Also, our place looks good. Really good. I’ve been dreaming it up in my head for a long time now, and I was afraid that all of the calculations wouldn’t turn out how I’d envisioned. Nope, it’s all more awesome than I could’ve realized. I’ll post pictures as soon as I get a chance!

We’ve met a few neighbors, and love that we have 10-15 kids living all around us! What a cool neighborhood this is!

Deer in yard

If you can see past the sprinkler stains on the window, you can see our deer family!

And then there’s the wildlife…we are only a TWO MINUTE drive from the largest street and shopping center in our city, a THREE MINUTE drive from the freeway, and only a FIVE minute drive from where we both work, and yet….it feels like we’re out in the middle of nowhere. It’s so quiet, so peaceful, with just woods and trees all around us. Our house is on a little over 1/2 an acre, and we have so many deer and squirrels that come to play in our front yard. Every morning, Gregory eats breakfast while watching the family of deer that comes to rest on our lawn. It’s adorable (also, we will be building a deer fence around some of it so I can have my garden! Stay tuned!).

Basically, we love it here. We couldn’t be more grateful for God handing us this wonderful place after so much searching and heartache.

Cambria Day Trip

Due to our 3 day weekend (teaching holidays=awesomeness!), we decided to head to Cambria for the day. Being only a 30 min. drive away, it really is a shame we don’t go here more often, especially since it’s known as one of the prettiest places in all of CA.

Also, the day could not have been more perfect. 66 degrees and sunny!

First, we went to Moonstone Beach and ate a picnic.

The view from our picnic bench

The view from our picnic bench

Once we were done eating, we hiked down to the rocks, babies and all!

Cambria Trip 18

We finally learned how to use the panoramic function on our iphones. About time!!!

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We found a little crab

Cambria Trip 16

It was low tide, so we were able to walk all over the beach and rocks

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Our gorgeous girl

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Smile!

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Gregory could not stop talking during all of this. He was so thrilled with all the scenery!

After our walk on the beach, we took a small hike/walk into the trees and to another lookout point.

Cambria Trip 19

Again, isn’t this function on the iPhone AWESOME?

After we tired the boys out, we went in search of a hole-in-the-wall cookie bakery that we’d heard rave reviews about. It’s the oddest little place, tucked into a STORAGE facility, of all places, but it was beyond worth it. For $12, we got 8 of the BEST cookies I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. They are already starting to franchise the business after just 2 years because they’ve been so wildly successful!

The label on the side says it all

The label on the side says it all

Cambria Trip 9

Didn’t believe me when I said it was in a storage facility?

Cambria Trip 8

He said that often, they have so much business that they have to hide their signs! And people still come!

Cambria Trip 7

Red Moose Bakery Mascot

Cambria Trip 6

These cookies definitely lived up to their name!

Cambria Trip 5

We also got lemon…oh man, were they good!

Cambria Trip 4

Caitlin could not believe how amazing they were!

All 3 kids fell asleep shortly after we left the bakery, so Jesse and I decided to drive 15 minutes up the coast to the place where he proposed!

7.5 years since he gave me my gorgeous ring!

7.5 years since he gave me my gorgeous ring!

Kelly's ring 2013

I like remembering the day he gave it to me 🙂 Today, I got to tell Caitlin all about it and walk her to the very spot! She claims she wants to have her wedding here someday.

Cambria Trip 3

It’s easy to see why people love to come here!

Cambria Trip 1

One more shot out the window as we drive