Happenings and Realizations

As far as weekends go, this was a pretty good one. For me, the weekend also includes Friday, okay?

Realization #1: I LOVE teaching Latin, almost as much as I love teaching English. I teach two separate Latin classes at different schools on Fridays, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I have a diabolical love for diagramming sentences, but now I know that I also love coming up with random analogies to explain complicated things to teens, like the 4 principal parts of a verb (2 arms and 2 legs on a body), different tense endings on the stem of a verb (putting a different hat on your head, depending on the weather), differences between conjugations being just like the differences between families (1st conjugation is that perfect white suburbia family with stepford wives), etc. LOVE it. Teaching Latin makes me want to go back and get another BA in classics.

My old Latin Book from Junior High-- I created a treasure hunt for myself!

My old Latin Book from Junior High– I created a treasure hunt for myself!

Realization #2: Most Thai food is gluten free!

Realization #3: I’m also allergic to soybean oil. I found this out when we made gluten free chocolate chip cookies after eating Thai food and I was sick to the point of throwing up for HOURS. I kept thinking it had to be the Thai food (maybe how they fried the tofu?), but Jesse pointed out that the timing wasn’t typical (3 hours after eating dinner), and that it had to be the cookies somehow. Then, a gluten-free friend told me she has the same reaction whenever she eats anything with soybean oil….there ya go. It makes sense of other things that have happened as well.

Realization #4: Soybean oil and hydrogenated soybeans are in EVERYTHING. The coffee creamer at church. Salad dressing. Chocolate. Most types of bread and crackers. How many Americans know that they are eating buckets of soy products every day? They say that just a bottle of baby soy-formula has more hormones than a month’s worth of birth control pills. C’mon, America, let’s get our food supply under control!!!

Realization #5: I am going to try an elimination diet soon, as it seems it’s the only way I can pinpoint the specific things that are making me sick. That should be….fun? I already feel like I don’t get to eat anything, so only eating 1 or 2 food groups for a month sounds devastating. But I hate the feeling that my food is poisoning me, especially when I am incapacitated by nausea. So, there’s that.

Realization #6: Jesse is going to have to make us some salsa soon. Our garden is producing tomatoes and spinach leaves like CRAZY. This is how many tomatoes we harvest on a DAILY basis!

Garden September 2013

Happening #1: I went on a women’s retreat with my mom’s church this weekend. I only went for Saturday, but it was so much fun! Just a whole day of sitting in a room, eating chicken salad, playing board games, drinking coffee and chatting….I am so glad I broke out of my introversion and went. I was worried how the boys would fare without me home, but I came home to the babies in bed and the kitchen clean. Success!!!

Janelle likes to point out that my face looks funny here. I was CHEWING. Ahem.

Janelle likes to point out that my face looks funny here. I was CHEWING. Ahem.

Happening #2: I bought some am-AHZ-ing boots at TJ Maxx yesterday with some more eBay money. I’ve made $250 in the last 10 days!

Happening #3: A busy week ahead of us! I have a full schedule for the first time, with both of my Latin classes and 15 piano students, half of whom are new!

Happy Monday everyone!

an homage to the bestie

My best friend came for a visit this week. Last March, she moved to Seattle. She’s now a nanny, getting ready to take some medical classes towards a second degree.ย It’s amazing to me that we’ve been friends for 24 years! There’s something so rare about a friend who’s known you for that much of your life!

Kelly and Tess 1991

For frame of reference, here we are in 1991, 5 years old, playing at Big Sur!

She was also there AT AJ's birth, filming the whole thing

She was also there AT AJ’s birth, filming the whole thing

She even stayed and helped through the crazy postpartum days!

She even stayed and helped through the crazy postpartum days!

Naturally, I was super excited that she was coming to visit. I only got to hang out with her a little bit, but it was still fun!

We had wine and dinner at my sister in law’s house.

We had wine and dinner at my sister in law's house

We had a BBQ with her parents at their rental in Cayucos Beach.

Naturally, the only pictures I got were of my boys. They were THAT cute.

Naturally, the only pictures I got were of my boys. They were THAT cute.

We went to Music in the Park in Paso Robles.



Kelly and Tess Music in the Park 1

Yesterday morning, we finished off her visit with a yummy coffee date at Amsterdam.

Amsterdam coffee image

I’m gonna miss that girl! Until next time!

tess kelly 1991

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!
July LA Trip 15 July LA Trip 14 July LA Trip 13
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.

July LA Trip 11 July LA Trip 10

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!”

July LA Trip 7

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.
July LA Trip 16
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!
July LA Trip 20 July LA Trip 18 July LA Trip 17
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.
July LA Trip 5 July LA Trip 4
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!

The Bartels

I’m just now getting caught up on my “meant-to-post-that!” list. Included somewhere in there is Anthony’s 12 month letter. You know, now that he’s 14.5 months.

Last week was what I’ll title the “Bartel Week” of summer.

Sunday, we met them at church. It was a bit distracting for me, personally, because I really forgot all about Jesus once adorable Gwen got there.

Look at this sweet ball of adorableness!

Look at this sweet ball of adorableness!


I neeeeeed a baby girl someday, people….however, Anthony has some definite jealousy going on in that department. The moment I held Gwen, he flipped a biscuit and wouldn’t stop howling until I held him again. He was soooo clingy after that, I’m shocked and surprised he let Godfather Tim take him up for communion! And he definitely gave Gwen the stink eye for quite some time….

Bartels:Cones group shot

On Monday, we had the older and the younger Bartels over for a BBQ. Sadly, I was too busy learning that we had NO napkins or paper towels to accompany our steaks to take any pictures.

Then, on Thursday, the boys went to see Superman, while Hope and I spent a quiet morning/afternoon together with the babies. 7 hours hanging out? Yes please!

Anthony came over to investigate this baby who tried to steal his Mommy and was now playing with his toys

Anthony came over to investigate this baby who tried to steal his Mommy and was now playing with his toys

Ah, I love how social my kids are. So warm and welcoming. See the hitting?

Ah, I love how social my kids are. So warm and welcoming. See the hitting?

"Seriously, mom, who is this?"

“Seriously, mom, who is this?”

Gwen pulled up and stood for the first time! After this, she kept pulling the huge wooden cube down on herself. The girl's got muscles!

Gwen pulled up and stood for the first time! After this, she kept pulling the huge wooden cube down on herself. The girl’s got muscles!

The offspring photo op!

The offspring photo op!


Even though they had to leave the next morning to back down south, we will be seeing them in just another week and a half! Yay for 3 whole months of summer vacation!!!


8th Grade Graduation

This last Friday night, my favorite class ever, the 8th graders, graduated from NCCS. Some of them are transferring to a high school where they can play football, so this class will never be the same as it was this last year. Makes me pretty sad.

I was so honored to be unanimously chosen as their key-note speaker! Although I was SUPER nervous ahead of time, I actually had a blast while I was up there speaking. It’s the first time in my LIFE that all of my nervousness actually went away the moment I was up in front of everyone. My speech was exactly 10 minutes long.

A group shot with all 10 of them!

A group shot with all 10 of them!

With the twins

With the twins

Even though it was a great experience, I’m so glad it’s over and I can relax. Summer is finally here!!!

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

Happy Hollows Trip 16

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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


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



Halloween 2012

I have to say, Gregory made one hecka-cute giraffe!

Playing with some toys as we got ready to go. Once we put the costume on, and he saw himself in the mirror (smirking the whole time!) he never once tried to take it off

My mom saved my old cheerleading uniform from high school 2001!

Poppa got the honor of taking Gregory house to house while we took pictures! Gregory yelled, “MOE CAN-DEE! MOE CAN-DEE!” super loud, in between each and every house. It was hilarious!



Nanna got to hold a super cute elephant ๐Ÿ™‚


Adorable munchkin alert!

He pretty much hummed or slept on her shoulder for most of the evening

We met up with some friends and formed ourselves a little circus safari! One girl walked by and said, “Mom, it’s a PETTING ZOO!!”

Gregory was definitely eating the chocolate through the wrapper. His love for candy completely overran any logic.



Later, Gregory, on a total sugar high, crashed and fell into his toy bucket, after which he could not get out. I imagine real giraffes feel the same way.

Gregory’s 2nd Party!

It’s really hard for me to believe that a year ago, we were celebrating G’s first birthday! I was 14 weeks pregnant with Anthony, and just beginning to come to grips with what things were going to be like TWO children.

Now, a year later, I have THREE kids. How weird is that?

This party was definitely a lot more low key than last year. I don’t feel bad about this fact, mainly because last year was our first birthday party for our first kid. It was more about us surviving that first year than it was about his actual birthday. ‘Nuff said!

I did all the grocery shopping the day before and made all the decorations while the cake was baking– so, basically, most of this was done in 30 minutes. It probably shows, but who cares?

As I briefly brainstormed his party theme about a month ago, I kept wanting to go for something cutesy, like Noah’s Ark or Dr. Seuss. I really didn’t want to do something generic like SPORTS, for heavens sake. But you know what? In the end, I just had to realize that this was GREGORY’S party, and his two favorite things in the world are icons and balls. So, rather than have an Orthodox themed party, we went with balls, specifically, basketballs. The orange/black color theme right before Halloween made everything a whole lot easier! Score!

The Guests:

Both of our families, Tess, Jerad and Stephanie + their two kids Marshall and Baby Miller, and 3 of Gregory’s older buddies from church.

The Basketball Menu:

Apple “Turnovers”

Carrots for “Dunking”

Watermelon “Balls”

Orange Cuties made to look like basketballs

Orange Gatorade and Balloons for centerpieces

“Shred the Defense” Shredded Pork (okay, that one was a bit of a stretch!)

A chocolate fudge cake with Reese’s Pieces!

Table of food


I love how the Gatorade bottle just has a big “G” on it!

These oranges looked so much like basketballs, that people were tricked out of eating them! Oops.



The sign I threw together in 20 minutes

I printed off some of my favorite pics of G

Playing with his friends

The Birthday Boy

Some of G’s buds from church

Opening presents: Gregory got lots of books, arts and crafts, clothes, shoes, BALLS, play food, and some legos! I also got him a Melissa and Doug “Band in a Box”, but he won’t get that until his actual birthday ๐Ÿ™‚

This pacifier was definitely the gift that kept on giving!

Gregory’s new tricycle!

I had to help him with the pedals. Turns out, you can lower the seat…which explains why he wasn’t able to reach

Tess and Anthony, chillin

Playing piano together. Notice the back of Tess’ sweatshirt. Lovelove.