Friday, December 18, 2009

Zack's first trip to Disneyland!

A few weeks ago we met Adam, Jeannette, Jonah and Oona for a toddler-sized romp in the Happiest Place on Earth. A&J got us in with their special mojo and even got Zack a pair of ears.

Here's Oona, Zack and Jonah while we kicked around Downtown Disney before eating. As you can see, Zack was very curious about the ears.

VERY curious.

While we were kicking around Jonah noted that Downtown Disney had bypassed any Thanksgiving decorations and gone straight to Christmas. I suggested it was because there weren't any Thanksgiving decorations, and Oona said "That's right... except for handprint turkeys."

Here we are waiting for The Tiki Room to open. One great side effect of D-Land was that it kept Zack's attention away from the camera. Usually when he sees the camera he says "bay-bee?" and gets upset if he can't watch movies of himself on the screen right away. Even if we don't cave, it's still impossible to take more pictures.

I was worried The Tiki Room would be too loud and scary for Zack, but he just quietly took it all in, I'm sure wondering what damn fool place his parents had brought him to this time.

His expression while experiencing the barrage of Tiki was pretty much just like this, which is how he looked for the whole Jungle Cruise. As with The Tiki Room he seem determined to pay attention but was clearly pretty bewildered by the whole affair. I realized he had little reason to doubt any of the animals he saw were real.

Oona was a little more dubious.

Family shot in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, which was all decorated for the season.

Zack likes to pound on Julie's chest while she goes "aahhhhhhhhh."

Here's Oona and Zack outside The Mad Hatter, where Jeannette got Zack his monogrammed set of ears.

He dug them right away, and wears them around the house often.

Can you tell which of these children understand sitting still? No hints. (This was the best group shot in the cup that I could get.)

For the first time ever in my Disneyland travels, the Storybook Land ride was open. I finally got to see what was on the other side of Monstro's maw.

So scary...

Unless, that is, you have a little car to chew on.

It turns out Storybook Land is AWESOME. It's a series of models of various settings in the Disney cartoons, set in little landscapes. As you can imagine, my eyes were popping out of my head. It was great to see it at night, but it didn't result in good pictures. I include this one only because I just missed what would've looked like a giant mallard duck who was standing just to the left of frame.

Our guide for this one wasn't the best. To get the idea, give yourself a slightly nasal twang and say the following in as flat and boring a way as you can: "Here is where Aladdin and Jasmine went on a magic carpet ride, and discovered a whole new world."

After Storybook Land we headed over to Small World, lit up in psychedelic holiday finery. Unfortunately, the beckoning colors had attracted a huge line, and we chose not to play.

Instead we ducked into Toontown for a look around Mickey and Minnie's houses. Looking at this, Oona noted "Minnie is very strict about what can go on her Christmas tree."

In the production studio in the back of Mickey's house there are a number of labelled drawers. This one has always made me a little supicious...

That was about all the good craziness Team Cross could handle, so we said goodnight and headed out. I couldn't help take a few more of the Small World lights.

And again.

We took a quick spin up the stairs in Sleeping Beauty's Castle and saw the dioramas in there. Well worth it. After we left the castle we turned around to check out the Xmas glamor at night, which you can see was pretty sublime. We even caught a taste of the holiday parade just as we reached the end of Main Street, but by that time our eyes were already full.

That was a great day. Big thanks to A&J for that one. We had a rollicking time going to D-Land before their wedding in 1992, and going back now with our kids was really something special. Can't wait for next time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The LA Zoo

On Veterans Day, Jeff was working, but Zack and I were off. I was totally exhausted. Zack was whiny and antsy. I couldn't stand the thought of trying to entertain him at home for another few hours, so I took him to the zoo.

We saw these guys.

And these guys.

And these guys. I was very excited about seeing zebras. Zack commented, "Ball!" He was more excited about whatever that ball is in there.

And these guys were cool.

We actually got there late, so I wheeled the stroller super fast to the lion pen, so Zack could see real lions. He's been roaring like a lion so much.

And actually he roared when he saw all the animals. I think they all fell into the lion category of his taxonomy, being big and real and all.

Fun stuff. The zoo!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh my GOD it's a LION!!

Zack has been into doing lion roars lately, so we bagged the triceratops costume we got him and picked up this one. He hasn't yet understood that he is a lion when he's wearing it. As a matter of fact, he hates putting it on at first, but then he gets used to it. Now we just have to get him to say "raaooow."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some recent favorites (but not that recent)

I actually selected these pictures for posting a month ago and then as usual neglected the heck out of the blog. If any of you are still tuning in, I hope you like them. This is Zack in a contemplative moment after sliding down the slide. I think he's comtemplating a dog over there.

Early in September we took a trip to Venice beach to meet some friends of mine visiting from the Bay Area. They unexpectedly brought a hula hoop with them, and it just so happens Julie's a bit of an expert. Zack completes the "circus family" tableau by practicing stunts with his ball.

From later the same day, heading back to the car.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Elsa's Last Day

A new company bought our daycare center and a lot of the teachers are leaving. The saddest thing for us is that Elsa is among them. Her last day is tomorrow. She wasn't asked to stay, which breaks my heart. And I think it's wrong and probably blatant agism, but what can we do? I called the new manager and wrote an email. That's all we can really do. Oh, and I put an ad on boobybrigade, this little crunchified LA breast feeding Yahoo support group, for her. She has two interviews lined up from the ad, so I'm hoping that even though losing her is a crushing blow for us, she'll have a better time of things working for individual families. Being a nanny in LA can be a pretty cushy gig, and since Elsa can drive and has an AA in Child Development, she's a pretty hot commodity. Not to mention she has a special gift with infants. She really is amazing. But this year her knee started to bother her a lot, so maybe working with fewer kids would be better.

Elsa was so wonderful to Zack and loves him so much. He holds out his arms to her every day when he arrives at the center. I can't imagine how he'll take it when he doesn't see her anymore, but I'm sure he'll survive. He made it through her vacation recently. He's older now and just likes to run around and play, but when he was little, he was Elsa's baby.

The one great thing about the new company is that they lowered the price of daycare by a LOT. Because they're paying the teachers so much less. Awesome. But apparently they somehow have the lowest retention rates around in spite of their pay rates. And another parent visited the other centers under this company and said they were really fantastic.

That's the email buzz that's been going around about the changeover. I think most of the parents are sticking around. The place is still beautiful, the price is right, and the new teachers seem really awesome. Just so sad about Elsa.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cape Cod Trip!

August 9th-15th we were in Cape Cod, and one month later, here are the pictures. Zack has already outgrown the shoes in this photo. But here he was on that day, ready to hit the road!

I'm not sure why, but we left half an hour later than we decided we should. Maybe it's because it was dark 'o-clock in the morning and we have a one-year-old. Everything took way longer than we thought. Here we are waiting in a long, long line. There seemed to be no mercy for us, even though we were about to miss our flight. When I got through security with Zack, I heard someone calling "Passenger Zachary Cross" on the speaker, and I took off barefoot with Zack across the airport. My shoes were still making their way through the x-ray machine. The security lady said to Jeff, "You have 20 seconds," when he was through. I got to the gate, and the flight folks were all, "Mrs. Cross! You made it!" and got us on. We also did not have seats all together, but they got us situated.

Jeff and I vowed never again to live our lives as if we were in our early 20s and running for planes was some kind of crazy fun adventure. Zack responded like this. We got to watch a movie, since Zack slept so well on the plane. He really loves to sleep in moving vehicles.

And then we arrived!

Starving. Huzzah--Enterprise Rental Cars had free hamburgers grillin' in their lot. Way to be, folks.

More moving vehicles

Jeff's dad made wooden tops for all the kids.

I guess this is a little silly, but I had to edit here to say, hey, check out the gigantic pile of cilantro on the table. This was Monday, when Jeff and I made dinner--black bean soup and macaroni and cheese. Every couple got a night to cook. Our food lasted the whole week--I guess we kinda overshot.

Zack loved 'em.

Here are all the tsunami babies playing in an enclosure, while the adults have happy hour. The babies were born in alphabetical order: Ian, Isabelle, Mason, and Zack. And they are in reverse order in terms of size. Zack is the biggest.

Okay, New England, we get it. You are very charming.

Zack in the water, on one of the two days he loved it.

At this point, you might be saying, "But Julie, enough with the trip details. What I really wanted to see are some pictures of a baby in sunglasses." Your wish is my command.

Pile o' cousins: Jake, Aidan, and Finn

I slept through the big ice cream party. Check out the fly kitchen.

There were enough high and low chairs for the babies.
Mommy gets her deserved come-uppance.

We headed into the nearby town of Sandwich one day. It was actually the same day we had pulled beef sandwiches for dinner. A sandwich themed day.

Yes, yes, New England, we understand. Adorable.

We found a park in Sandwich for the kids.

Zack's big ol' feet, which are now bigger.

Zack is super coordinated these days. He has really mastered climbing up slides.

Acting very LA for the group shot.

Zack has the same PJs as everyone else, but they were in the laundry when the matching PJ shot was taken. Ah well.

This is the other side of that photo. When you can't get all your cousins in one shot, yep, that's a big family.

One day it rained and we headed to Boston to go to the Children's Museum. Zack was pretty stoked to get out of the house.

And then the first exhibit was the bubble room! So awesome! If we had any doubts that Zack would enjoy this place, they were over at that point.

We tried to take him to see a little play called "Count Me In" all about numbers, but as soon as some balls came out on stage, Zack did not understand the whole performer / audience dynamic and kept yelling because he was not playing with the balls. Still not old enough for the theater.
Beautiful Boston.

Beautiful boys.

Zack loved these chess pieces, until this horrible little girl came along and whacked him over the head with one, for absolutely no reason. Her mom didn't see it happen, so we had to tell her and then we just left that area. Her other two kids were kicking the chess pieces all around. Hard to know if that woman really has no control or if it was just a bad day. Don't want to be too judgmental, since Zack is already pulling hair and biting in daycare. But it stank!

Cool three story play structure.

"Yes, yes, the museum looks interesting, Julie, but what I really would like to see are more babies in sunglasses."

You have come to the right place.




Everyone's babies were all over the place with sleeping. One night I got up at 2:00 a.m. and found Jules and Izzy in the living room. Jules was on her laptop and Izzy was watching Dora.

Mason, who has the most hair of the tsunami babies

Dana's group gift to everyone was these shirts that say "Camp Chaos 2009." The backs of the kids' shirts say "Camper" and the adults' shirts say "Staff."

Mags in the water.

Maggie had the quote of the trip, from our adventure in Sandwich, when she skinned her knee and exclaimed: "I falled down and I got the blood!"

Zack and Willie

Julie and Willie

Mason and Jeff

Zack getting his award for "Best Red Head and Tallest Baby"

Tsunami babies

Izzy steals Zack's cookie.

So gentlemanly. He gives it to her.

Jules, Izzy, and Dana

Zack loves being upside down lately.

And he often makes it happen on his own.

We thought we'd take Zack in the canoe, but this was the day he decided he hated the lake because it was too cold. Then this life jacket was so big it was ridiculous. And the canoe was super tippy. So our canoeing trip ended about 20 feet from the shore. As you can see, Zack isn't really thrilled. Just didn't seem worth it.

Unfortunately, the cold lake water traumatized the boy a bit. We got him back into swim classes at the Y, and he acts like the water is going to be scary and freezing every time now. But he's getting over it.

This was the view from the porch. Come on, New England,
I think we all understand that you are simply quaint as all get out.

Chillin' on the steps.

Cousin Jake gets a hug.

The Horrorthoners

Sox fan

Maybe not the best idea

Zack spent most of his free time in this big room called the great room--actually a converted barn. I didn't get a great shot of it, but there is the head of an ibex on the wall in this room. We stayed in here our first couple nights and the ibex would glare down at us in bed.

Hangin' with the big boy twins

I refused to go outside after dusk because I was convinced I would be carried away by mosquitoes. So Jeff made me a smore.


Zack refused to sleep in his pack n' play. So this was the scene every night. Amazingly, when we got home he went right back to his normal schedule, and now we've gotten him scaled back to just one 5 a.m. feeding.

Returning the car

Since we got home, Zack has fallen in love with planes, and whenever he sees or hears one, he points and says, "Tlay!"

There's really no way this post could capture how fun and nutty it was to be in a house with 28 people, eleven of whom were six-years-old and under. There was much diaper changing, much crying, much laughing. It was great.