Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

Hi, I'm Susie. You can find out all about me, or just read my journal.

[No comments] What I Like About Not Working: When Sienna gets her shoes and says "walk?" And I say "yes."

Tonight I sat down at the computer to upload our pictures and work on my personal photo blog. And I lost track of time. It was so wonderful to be doing something enjoyable and engrossing like that, just for me. Especially since my time on the computer lately has been minimal. I still need to wean a bit more off my phone, but I'm glad the computer time suck is slowing down for summer.

[No comments] Grown Up Maggie-isms: Can you stop talking? I'm busy reading.

And while I was playing the piano: I don't mind if you make a mistake, just keep playing.

[No comments] Rachel's Wedding: Saturday: Wedding Day! Rachel and Brett's wedding was beautiful and I think just how she wanted it to be. Maggie and I went over to start getting ready. Maggie spent most of the time looking for Tonks. We had our hair done, the boys arrived with the littlies, and we all got dressed in our fancies. Then, we walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the Hackney Town Hall. A photographer was there documenting the entire thing. The kids' were darling and Sienna only slightly misbehaved during the ceremony (crying out when the registrar asked for objections, scooting over to me in the bridesmaid line and hoping no one would notice). Rachel asked Aunt Pat to be her witness, which I thought was wonderful.

We took pictures outside, there was a cocktail reception, then a buffet dinner. The cocktail hour seemed like a good time to put Sienna down for a nap. Brett's father was resting in the office reserved for the bridal party, so I continued through the next door into the formal council room, and excellent place to nurse a baby.

Alyson held Sienna for an hour while I ate dinner (gumbo!). The kids sat with Pat and Shannon, which was perfect. Everyone had a good time that way! My kids are hilarious. Brett's dad gave an awesome speech. I gave a speech as well, which everyone said was good and made them tear up because, you know, us poor orphans. It wasn't that great, but it was something.

After dinner there was cupcakes and dancing. Maggie was so excited to learn there was dancing at the wedding, and she made great use of it. Hopefully people will send me videos I can share; she was awesome. John took the little ones home early - or tried to. He got lost in scary London, Sienna with no shoes, poor tired kids. He barely made it home before Leonard, Maggie and I.

I got lots of compliments on the kids wedding clothes which I made (Maggie Dalton Sienna). I also made my bridesmaid dress, and a dress for Rachel from the same pattern, which she wore to the friends and family dinner. I'm really pleased with how everything turned out, which is how I imagine Rachel feels about her whole lovely wedding. She was a beautiful bride and I think everything was just what she wanted.

[No comments] Disneyland Paris: Sunday: We took the Eurostar to Paris and went to Walt Disney Studios Park. The best part of this day was getting a sneak peek of the new Ratatouille ride, which officially opened the day after we left. We also popped into Disneyland Paris, but Sienna was so done by this point, I had to just take her back to the hotel. We stayed at the Sequoia Lodge, with a nice Western America theme... for reals, we stayed in the Yellowstone Lodge.

Monday was our Paris tour. We stopped at the Louvre where we spent most of our time looking for a crepe stand. Then we went on a Seine river boat tour, and up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. We were kind of bored on the river boat tour, having just seen lots of old buildings in London. This is just not our thing, especially with kids. We would have preferred walking along the river, perhaps with a picnic, but it just wasn't feasible. John took the kids to the hotel pool after the tour. They LOVED it, with a water slide and a giant yoga mat thing they could walk on the water with.

It was fun to go on the Eiffel tower with the kids. The queue for the lift back down was long, so we walked down all the stairs! Sienna even walked most of the stairs down, because she is a trooper like that. Then, we got more crepes, and some nice pictures.

Tuesday we went to Disneyland Paris to do it justice. We took advantage of 2 hours of Magic Morning. The first thing we did was go on Peter Pan. Twice in a row. With no one else anywhere nearby. Sienna cried. We did most of Fantasyland, then took turns on Space Mountain Mission 2. When the park officially opened at 10, it started raining, but we had come prepared. We took turns on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and went on the Haunted Manor ride. We explored Adventure Isle and went on Pirates. Had Mexican food (?) for lunch. Then we went back to the hotel for a nap.

We made it back to the park for the parade, and to finish up Fantasyland. Small world was fun, and we all really liked Alice's Curious Labyrinth.

Wednesday we went back to Walt Disney Studios, but we found there wasn't much to do since we didn't want to wait in line for adult coasters. We saw a couple shows, then left for lunch and more Disneyland Paris. We rode the train around, then did it's a small world and the girls rode the carousel one last time, while the boys did Pirates. We met at the stroller which had been sitting in the rain that whole time. Oops.

Then it was the train back to London for bed!

[No comments] A Trip to Europe: Well, I am apparently not going to do a full travelogue on our trip to Europe, but here is a summary. Links to photo blog posts. (ETA: This turned out much longer than I anticipated and I separated Rachel's Wedding and Paris.)

Flight there: Within minutes of boarding, Dalton had charmed multiple flight attendants into fulfilling his every whim. How many flight attendants does it take to turn on Frozen? At least two. The kids watched a movie, ate dinner, then got a decent night's sleep. Sienna was a great sleeper, she slept a solid 8 hours in the bassinet.

We had great weather in London. Hardly any rain for 5 days. It rained most of the time we were in Paris, and a drizzle our last day in London, but we got all five of London's summer days.

Monday night: Arrive, fish 'n' chips with Rachel and Brett

Tuesday: St. Paul's Cathedral. We hiked to the top with Leonard. Then we met Rachel and went on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, except we did no hopping off. We rode the bus for 4 hours, saw most of the city while the kids played and Sienna took a nap. That night I met some family members at an Italian restaurant for dinner.

Wednesday: Walked across Tower Bridge with Leonard, then around the Tower of London. A much shorter bridge walk than the last one we did with Leonard (Golden Gate). I think we can call this a fun tradition now that we walked at least three famous bridges.

Wednesday afternoon was our Harry Potter studio tour with Jill, Laura, Rachel and Rachel's friend Jenn. It was awesome. There were so many props and sets and costumes, as well as outdoor sets, creature exhibits. It was really neat to see, and the kids loved it, too! We got the kids pen wands for 10 pounds and they've enjoyed playing with them.

Thursday morning: We wanted to do the zoo, but we decided to let the kids sleep in, and there wasn't time. Instead we went to the London Science Museum, which had a lot of hands on stuff the kids enjoyed.

Thursday afternoon was the wedding rehearsal at Rachel's house. Then we went to pictures>The Crown Pub for dinner with the extended family and lots of friends. It was so fun to see many Whitney and Richardson relatives come all the way to London! I nursed Sienna to sleep in the pub, which struck me as odd, but keep reading; this was not the most awkward place I nursed her this trip.

Friday: We had planned to go to Warwick Castle, but I woke up feeling very unwell and Sienna was beyond grumpy. John and Leonard took the kids and Sienna and I stayed home to rest. My cousin Alyson had spent the night, so once Sienna and I were feeling rested (and less nauseous, bleh) the three of us went for a walk in Hyde Park. We rode the carousel, peeked at Kensington Palace, and saw the LDS church.

Saturday was Rachel and Brett's Wedding.

Sunday-Wednesday was in Paris.

Wednesday night we returned back to London and stayed at the Park Plaza hotel with a great view of the London Eye. The London Eye was our Thursday morning activity. It was really neat! The capsule felt so safe and secure, the kids enjoyed running around, and of course the view. Afterwards, we met Rachel and Brett for some breakfast before we headed to the airport. It was great to see them one last time.

The flight home wasn't quite as nice as the one out. I barely got an hour sleep, and Sienna was on me most of the flight. We counted it as a nap and went to bed when we got home. Still, no screaming was involved.

[No comments] Back in the Kitchen: On the menu today:

Peanut butter chocolate chip muffins (with my Maggie helper, another delicious early breakfast thanks to jetlag)
Pretzels
Peach cobbler from the last frozen peach cobbler filling
Crock pot refried beans
Tortillas (hopefully trying out my new wheat grinder since I used up all my store bought whole wheat in the pretzels)

I've missed being able to cook up food for my family the last couple of weeks. Coupled with my new found free time (no work, and the big kids at camp), a baking day seemed in order.

Plus, as long as I keep cooking, I don't have to clean the floor.

I've long said of myself that I like to cook, but I don't like having to cook. This leads me to take "days off" when I know John won't be home. I've been really lazy about making dinner for my family these last few months. Part of it is that I never know when John will be home for dinner, if at all. It always seems like on days I go through the effort of making a nice meal, the kids complain and want frozen food and John comes home late and already fed. But, here's to more real food coming out of my kitchen.

[No comments] I Should Have Seen This Coming: This morning when I dropped the kids off at gymnastics camp, Maggie was identified as Dalton's sister. Which is not surprising to anyone who knows Dalton.

[No comments] The Simple Life: I am not working this summer. I haven't had time to enjoy the break yet, since we've been travelling. But this week the kids have gymnastics camp for 6 hours, so I think it will hit me how much free time I have and how enjoyable to spend time with my baby!

Coming up: Baking, beach and the temple.

We actually have a lot going on this summer. I mean, the vacation already took up two weeks. Then gymnastics camp, then Hero Camp the next week. The last week of July we are planning to get Disneyland passes, plus finish up with Legoland and San Diego somewhere in there.

Then in August John's brother's family is visiting, then his mom. John has to travel two weeks that month as well.

So it's going to be plenty busy, but I still plan to have lots of time to enjoy the beach! After all, I don't have gymnastics camp.

Disney Day, Paris Style: Today started with an early wake up call. We fully enjoyed two hours of magic morning in Disneyland Paris park, much of which we were practically the only people there. We rode twice in a row on Peter Pan, which is otherwise unheard of. We tried out Space Mountain Mission 2 which has cool planet effects (and a loop and corkscrews...) Indiana jones and other new/different rides. We went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. We got lost in Alice's Curious Labyrinth. We made use of our rain gear, untouched from five days in London.

Now at the end of the day I am listening to the sound of rain coming through our open hotel window. Accompanied by Sienna's snores, the sound is a perfect ending to a busy fun Disney day.

Sienna's Baby Blessing: I recorded Sienna's baby blessing on my phone, but never did anything with it. Here are a few notes of things John blessed her with.

patience
love and kindness as a gift to share with others
health and strength, mentally strong
desire to seek learning
sensitive to choosing things that are right because it's the right thing to do and will bring you happiness

Save Here, Splurge There: So excited for our trip to Europe! We leave tonight!

I was just thinking how blessed, lucky, we've been (and what a smart planner I've married) because we haven't had to pay for this trip out of savings. We've carefully saved and paid for things as they came up, used our tax refund and cashed my WAH money to pay for everything in advance, with cash on hand for food and transportation and souvenirs. We've really paid for everything else already! All without taking money out of savings, or missing any of our regular savings transfers.

Rachel's long engagement and my working at home sure helped there. Plenty of time to save and plan, and earn a little extra.

We love to travel and are blessed we can save hard to do so.

Sweet Talker: Sienna said two phrases today. I asked her where her other shoe was and she went to the table and pointed under saying, "there it is!"

We borrowed a monkey leash for her to use on our trip to Europe and she loves it. Today she was wearing it around the house on her front and she told me "monkey says ooh ooh ahh!"

Beyond Let It Go: We are getting tired of Sienna saying "Let it go" all the time but I pointed out to John that sometimes she will hand you something and say "here you go" or point to a car and say "there they go bye bye". She also says "let's go" when we get in the car.

This morning when I went into her room, she was pointing at one of the Winnie the Pooh friends on her crib sheet and saying "where'd it go?" With her little hands upturned. So cute. She's blossoming into a lot of early speech, like her brother.

The Maker's Schedule: I had no idea what this article was talking about at first, but I soon realized, "That's so me!" I am a maker. A single meeting can disrupt an entire afternoon. A single "thing to do". In my care, it's not likely a meeting but a school pick up, an errand, an activity for the kids. One thing we have to do that makes me feel like I can't do anything else near that time. I have to plan around it. I do feel a great sense of freedom when I have a day with no scheduled activities. Looking forward to the freedom of summer.

Diet's Over: We had caramel corn for lunch.

I finished the Healthy Living Challenge. I didn't finish strong, kinda gave up on the no sugar the last week, but I did finish. It's nice to eat what I want and not have to write it down! The food journal was getting really annoying.

I am still exercising though because I made a slinky dress to wear to Rachel's wedding.

: I've been missing my grandmas lately. Realistically speaking, this is Grandma Rosie and Grandma June. Grandma called me Sugar, a little bit of the Southern in her I guess. There's something enormously comforting about a hug from a comfy old woman who calls you Sugar.

I miss visitng Grandma June, doing puzzles with her, watching her get her "dying" body down on the floor to play with the kids, and fully appreciating every moment I spent with her, every errand I drove her on, every piece of chocolate cake I brought her. Few people in my life have made me feel so appreciated.

Even longer than this bout of grandma-missing, I've been noticing grandmas out and about. And taking notes for when I'm a grandparent. Seriously.

Tweety Beep: Sienna is obsessed with Twitter. You know, the bird. DOOdooo as she calls it. She sees the icon on our TV, or on Instagram or the computer (since I don't actually really use Twitter) and gets so excited.

Mommy Level 3: Today we went to the Safari Park for what we plan to be the last time before our passes expire next month. The new tiger exhibit was open, so it was fun to see that, go on the tram, feed the lorikeets etc.

I was so tired that I dozed on the way home, and just wanted to take a real nap. Instead, I took Dalton swimming. He recently reached level 4 at swim lessons, but had yet to put it to the test in real life. It took him a while to warm up to the pool and be willing to swim on his own, but I was able to get him to cross the width of the pool on his own, with some strong arms and a couple rollovers. We called it "Mommy level 3." Then we hung out in the hot tub. Love my good swimmer boy.

Sienna Speaks: Sienna's vocabulary has increased tremendously this week. It's really amazing to watch her learn.Here are just a few of the words she can say. They pretty much all sound like two or three different sounds, so it's really based on context, but SHE knows what she's saying.

Nee (horse neighing - uses it for anything with four legs that doesn't look like a dog)
Truck
Treat
Drink
Milk
Cracker
Cheese
Mickey
Piggy
Change (diaper)
Baby (also for doll)
Hello
Bye bye (die die - also says for all done, and if we're going in the car)

She also started pointing to her diaper when she uses it and saying "wawa", whatever that is. When she first did it I said, "did you go potty?" and signed potty and she ran into the bathroom. A great first step!

Over It: John and I took cheesy quizzes to see what songs were written about us. I got Pharrwll Williams' Happy. John got Journey's Don't Stop Believing with a cheesy description about spreading the faith.

Me: That's not you! You worry too much.
John: About what?
Me: I don't know. Money.
John: Money? That's so 7 years ago!

Dot Dot Electric Shock: Maggie learned a new hand game at school yesterday. After school she and her friend taught it to all the boys at the park, and to Dalton and now they are obsessed.

Tic Tac Toe
Give me an X
Give me an O
Give me a three in a row

Johnny got hit by a UFO

Line Line Number Nine
Spiders crawling up your spine
Dot Dot Electric Shock!

Busy Saturday: On Saturday, each of the kids had a birthday party to attend. Dalton went to a Frozen party (they've been going to a lot of Frozen parties lately). All of Dalton's friends are girls, so he was the only boy except the birthday girl's big brother. Not that he noticed or minded. They played Pin the Nose on Olaf and threw paper snowballs at the Abominable Snowman.

Maggie went to a party for one of the girls in her class at school. It was a reptile party. I think it's awesome that she and all the girls in her class her handling tarantulas and huge snakes.

The timing of the parties also left us with alone time with each of the kids. John took Maggie for a hike in the morning and took Dalton shopping in the afternoon. Sienna and I attended the Frozen party with Dalton, then I finished sewing while she took a nap.

We also went over to some friends' to play games. Always fun to get invited to do stuff!

[Comments] (1) Sew On, Bernina: You sit down at the table. Your hands slip the fabric under the needle. The machine roars affirmatively, bringing life to helpless fabric, rising memories, maybe even shaking the table a little bit.

This is your mother's sewing machine. This is how she sewed. This is how sewing is meant to be.

Except. $200 later, the machine works again and now instead of roaring, it purrs. A very quiet, happy purr. The table doesn't shake. I am actually SHOCKED that the machine isn't supposed to sound like that. I feel like I was lied to my entire childhood.

And it sews beautifully.

It's amazing. I had to stop after one rolled hem to blog about it. I might even cry.

The repair man told me on the phone that the bracket holding the motor in place was loose. Looking back (at the last 20 years of my life), it does seem rather obvious.

She Has a Point... Sort Of:
Maggie: I want Lego Chima Lion Temple and Mario Kart for Christmas.
Me: Those are two expensive things.
Maggie: But if we get them for Christmas it's FREE! That's why you ask for it for Christmas, so you don't have to pay for it.
Me: Oh. ...

Also: Can we look on the computer for a toy broomstick that maybe goes one inch above the ground?

Big Bear Lake: We are back from a relaxing long weekend in Big Bear. This vacation was planned before John's last minute business trip to Buenos Aires, and if we hadn't already paid for our rental condo, we would have cancelled. But we didn't and we had fun!

We went on the alpine slide. only two people could ride in the lift at a time, so Maggie got to go by herself. She also went on the slide by herself, and loved it. All the kids loved the slide. It was not nearly as long ast the one in Park City and pretty dinged up and bumpy, but we had a great time.

We also took the lift at Snow Summit up to do some hiking. We did the 1 mile mountain top loop, which is plenty of hiking with the kids. There was some rock scrambling and some animal spotting action as well.

Then we went on a cruise around the lake on the Miss Liberty. Sienna did not fully appreciate it. As in, she ran around the whole time, barefoot because we were afraid she was going to throw her shoes overboard. But it was a nice tour.

We made another stop at the alpine slide on our way out of town. A great view from the top and a little energy out before the vomit-inducing car ride home.

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