Monday, January 26, 2009

Browns and Willdens: Together Again!

Our good friends the Browns, who moved from Texas to California the week before Natalie was born, met us at the Oakland Zoo for a wild morning. No hair was pulled out, nobody was put in a head lock. Good times! The kids were happy to see one another and had a good time. We all rode on the Sky Ride, and though all the kids were unsure at first if it was something they REALLY wanted to do, they all loved it in no time.

Scott and Tali Brown and Ella and Natalie Willden

Posted by Picasa


A couple days after Christmas we drove over to Bolinas to visit our friends the Harts. At low tide Tricia and her son Remmick took us down to the beach to look for shells (yay!) and to explore the tide pools/clam beds. Tidepooling is my new favorite thing. We saw all sorts of starfish--they were everywhere--as well as crabs and anemones. We couldn't see the clams--they live way down in the sand--but we knew they were there because they would squirt little arcs of water out over the rocks. We all got squirted at least once.

Posted by Picasa

To Tilden We Will Go

We met Jake and Lora and company at Tilden Park one afternoon. We knew there was a carousel, a train ride, and a "little farm" and we assumed that they would all be in the same place. Silly us! They were spread out all over the park, so we did a lot of twisty driving. Everything was really fun, though. I think my favorite was the farm--the cows were not at all shy and had a lot to say. The kids, though, loved the train ride. I must say, as far as miniature train rides go, it was a really fun one. Oh, and can you tell that I was not particularly concerned with Ella's hair that day? I'm sure I did run a brush through it that morning, all evidence being contrary.

Posted by Picasa

A Ferry Tale

One afternoon while we were in California my mom, Greg, Ella, Natalie, and I took a ferry ride from Jack London Square in Oakland to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful, clear day. It was also very chilly up on the top deck--Ella and Grandma didn't last long, but Nat (bundled in several layers and extra toasty), Greg (ace photographer), and I (freezing my tooshie off) braved the wind in exchange for spectacular views.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pink Ladies

Ella's favorite Christmas present was her first American Girl doll, from Grandma and Grandpa Willden. Grandma Kathie made two dresses for Ella with matching dresses for the doll.

Natalie is no Scrooge--she gives out smiles and cheer freely and frequently. If you look close you can see her two little bottom teeth.
Posted by Picasa

Merry Christmas Eve

Christmas with all four cousins was a hoot. Grandma and Grandpa bought the grandkids matching out fits and matching jammies, which they LOVED. Oscar was completely enamored of his cousin Ella and would kiss any part of her he could get ahold of. For her part, she was very patient and sweet with him. Livy had us laughing pretty much all the time and Nat was happy to sit and watch the madness.

This is SUCH a typical Natalie face. We call it "lizard tongue".

This was the best of a whole series of Kids on the Couch. The fact that Nat is flashing the camera just has to be overlooked.

We called this picture our Christmas Miracle--look how great it turned out! Of course, Nemo is in it, but he's pretty much considered a member of the family now.

Monkeys in PJs. Nat was passed out in the baby swing by the time this was taken. WAY too much merriment for the wee one.
Posted by Picasa

Christmas Prep

Yeah, we're still here. We were in California for three weeks over the holidays (more on that to come) and then had to come back to real life after a long vacation. Ugh, so much to do. Anyhoo, here are a few pics from the end of 2008.

Making gingerbread houses (yes, from scratch, thank you) and decorating them is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Ella really loved it this year.

I'm not one to post pictures of everything I bake, but I was extra-special proud of this one. It is a Buche de Noel, or yule log, a French holiday dessert. Look at the meringue mushrooms! I had a really fun time with it. I told my mom what I was making and she reminded me that when I was taking French in middle school, I entered a Buche de Noel contest and ended up being the only entry. I suppose I won by default, but I was never acknowledged as the winner. What gives?

Speaking of winners, check out this hat! It was the height of fashion this season among the 0-6 month set.

Ella danced her little heart out at her winter recital, despite having to wear borrowed shoes. That's right, Mom remembered crayons and coloring books to calm the natives backstage, but forgot the tap shoes. Luckily there were about 1000 other little girls there, many of them with tap shoes, and one very kind mother agreed to let us borrow her daughter's shoes. Whew.
Posted by Picasa