Sunday, December 30

Ziggy - The Newest Hart

We've added a little extra crazy to Casa de Looney Toons with the addition of Ziggy, a 2-year old playmate for 9-year old Ollie.

Thursday, December 27

Conversing with Ray...







What is it, Rachel?















I'm done with this game honey.


I'm done with this game.


I'm done honey.



Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas 2007

Merry Christmas 2007 with Best Wishes for a Bountiful New Year!

This was a year of new beginnings and big changes. It seems to be our way – just as things begin to get easy and comfortable, we mix it up and start new adventures.

So, after living a few years in maintenance (read: survival) mode (those of you with small children understand), 2007 was a year of great milestones and changes. And, with all that’s happened in the past 12 months or so, we decided it was time to update our faraway family and friends.

The biggie this year was Casey's decision to return to the world of suits, commutes, deadlines and take-out lunches. Yes—after five years filled with giggles, sniffles and playdates—she is now back in the adult world of paychecks and office politics.

And so, after 5 years off, Casey (in surprisingly short order) landed a plum position as communications manager with a great team at Kaiser Permanente. BIG hugs to Dave, Deanna G., Julia, Nadine and everyone who supported and cheered Casey on through this process. It was a bit stressful at times, and you were all so great in helping her reach this goal.

Casey's new adventure also meant BIG changes for the girls. After life at home with Mommy, they’ve ventured out into the great big world too. Rachel and Alex are now in a wonderful new school that they absolutely love. Miss Melissa, Miss Heather and Miss Donna mean more to us than you can imagine. The girls love the school and their teachers, and without such amazing caregivers, Casey wouldn’t have lasted a week away from her babies. (Some days it’s still a bit touch and go.)

Throughout the year, and as the family readied for the big change, we packed in tons of fun including a visit with Grandpa and Grandma Casey in Tucson, our yearly adventures in Georgia with Dave’s family, a quick trip to Portland to see Papa and Sherrie, the magic of Disneyland, our first family camping trip that lasted all of 18 hours, and the cutest little toddler dance recital ever!

And Daddy? He accomplished what can only be called a marathon—the Rock'n'Roll Marathon. He ran 26.2 miles in just 4 hours and 13 minutes! We are VERY proud of him. With just six months of training—less 6 weeks due to injury, little sleep the previous week due to nerves and a virus that he caught from Rachel earlier in the week—he did it!

Oh yes, and did I mention that after running the marathon Sunday morning, he took the girls out for pizza (I needed a nap!), and he took the red-eye flight that same night for a week long biz trip to Wisconsin?? Did I also mention he is a little crazy? Why did no one tell him before now that 26 miles is an INSANE distance to run?

Gotta love that man!!

Oh and let’s not forget Rachel’s BIG milestone of the year. NO MORE DIAPERS!! Oh yes, our little rock star is now potty trained. (Again, those of you with small kids get the hugeness of NO MORE DIAPERS – EVER. Or at least not until Dave and I need them…HA! Payback, girls! Remember, we changed yours and ‘never’ complained!)

As summer turned to fall and Rachel turned to three, Casey started her second job. We knew that returning to work after 5+ years would be an enormous adjustment. But, seriously, that first week was NUTS!! Aside from the expected, we were hit with several unanticipated anomalies that sent us into a bit of tailspin.

The Summary:

* A fender bender and insurance fraud,
* a once-in-a-decade crisis at the office,
* two very sick kids,
* and a trip to the emergency room.

It was CRAZY, but somehow we survived. (Click here for details)

And just as things began to settle down again, the wildfires hit San Diego and created chaos for the entire community. Thanks to my sister and B-in-L, Jane & Dave, we had a wonderful place to stay and our girls and our dog Ollie had a great time and no stress. ("Sleep-overs at Auntie Jane's are fun!")

And thanks to Daddy Dave, our girls & Ollie were happy and well cared for and Casey was able to go to work (LOOOONNNGG shifts in the emergency ops center) without worrying about my family.


And thanks for all the calls we received from people who were worried about us.

Things are now settling back into a new normal, and we’re still finding the time, amazingly, to cram all the love we can into the fraction of time that we, now both working parents, have to spend with our kids. We’re thriving and hope you are too.

Hugs to all of you this holiday season! We love you and wish you well.


Sunday, December 23

The Governator & The Virus

Good rule of thumb for a media relations professional: Don't hurl on the Governor. Thankfully, I have yet to break that rule. But on Thursday, December 20, I came awfully close.

On Wednesday evening, at just about dinner time, the call came in from the Governor's office inquiring about holding a press conference at the local Kaiser Hospital to promote his health care reform bill. So, after ridiculously in-depth consideration (like we were ever really going to decline), the wheels were set in motion and preparations began.

The prep was CRAZY, involving multiple departments doing everything from spraying down the driveway and sprucing up the garden to painting stairwells and hanging new signage.

As the hospital kicked into high gear so did the flu virus that had taken refuge in my body. And, just as old Arnold was about to arrive, my stomach started churning and doing some crazy little flips. I knew I was in trouble. I had the horrible vision of the news headlines, "Local PR Woman Pukes on the Governator!"

Not good.

That thought alone kept my stomach settled just enough to get through this...

and a celebratory beer and nachos with the team for a job well done, but not quite enough to get me all the way home. Bye-Bye nachos!!

The next day we mailed our Christmas cards, sans our holiday letter.


Oh - yes and BTW:
  • Health care reform - good thing.
  • Puking - bad thing.
Just in case you weren't clear.


Thursday, December 20

It's Not Nice to Hurl on the Governor...


Are you here looking for our Christmas letter?

Yeah? Well, there has been a short delay, which we're blaming on the Govenator and a stomach virus.

More later...


Thursday, December 13

The Equation...


I once wrote, when I was contemplating my return to work, that I get to matter in the family equation too—that I get to count. Being a good mom does not mean giving all of oneself over to your children. I was clear that it is important that I get to have a me that is more than 'just' (OK - shockingly poor choice of words) a mom.

So, I returned to work as a way of 'mattering' in the family equation and the larger world equation. It wasn't that I didn't feel that I was making a difference, because for my children, I was making the world. But there needs to be something...

More? No.

Different. Something of me that is for me that matters beyond familial constraints.

HA! How is that for vague? But it is what it is - vague and more than a little ambivalent.


And, as always, with every (vague) answer comes more questions. Was all that simply me rationalizing my decision to work? The answer to that question depends on when you ask me, but I can tell you that the transition back to work has been a bit brutal.

Not, apparently, for my kids. They LOVE school, adore their teachers and can't get enough of their new friends. Not for DH, who is "happy if I'm happy" and thrilled with the new HDTV that my added income enabled us to buy.

No. Not for them.

But for me, after what seems like years of transitions and adjustments, this has been tougher than I ever imagined. And for very different reasons than I anticipated.

My heart actually, physically, hurts when I think:
• of the time that I'm missing with my girls.
• about our worlds—no longer revolving solely around each other.
• of the giggles that we no longer share, and worse yet, that they now share with another.
• of the scrapes, bruises and hurt feelings that I'm not there to sooth.

It's not about guilt. It's about loss. I, we, have lost something or at least a piece of it. Something important and precious.

Have I made the wrong decision? Are we headed down the wrong path?

I'm not ready to say either way, just yet. I just know that this transition is HARD and I MISS MY BABIES.


Sunday, December 9

Tidbits o' Kidlets

After my morning shower, I come out to the living room to find the girls reading Christmas stories with Daddy. They're also playing with the little Fisher Price nativity scene that Papa brought last year. (I'm pretty sure the wise men didn't really sleep in the palm trees - but you never know.)

"MOMMY!" they yell in unison.

"The girls really want to do the *T*R*E*E*."


"Wh...? Alex?"

"TREE! Daddy said tree-spelled tree. Can we PLEASE help decorate the big tree?"

And just minutes later...

"Dave. Do you know what's in the mountains today?"


"SNOW!!" Alex shrieks.

Hey that was pretty good - especially given that 'it never snows in Southern California,' and the last snow in her life was back in Virginia, before Rachel was born.

And then it hits us. The whole communicate by spelling in front of the kids thing is gone! No more easy parent code. At 4 & 1/2, she's on to us! Too quick for our own good.


"Mommy? Mommy?" my breathless little Rachel whispers as she wonders into the office 15 minutes AFTER we've put the girls to bed.

"Rachel? What is it?"

"Mommy. Mommy?" she seems very concerned about something.


"You need to put the gate up in front of my door so I won't get up . Come put the gate up so I won't get out of bed."

And with that, she grabs my hand and takes me back down the hall, points to the gate and says, "There it is Mommy. You forgot." (Note that we don't usually use the gate.)

As I bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud, Rachel watches me install the gate. She then gives me a kiss and is off to bed without whimper. Not to be seen or heard from again until morning.

She is a laugh riot!


Saturday, December 8

The 'Meaning' of Christmas?


So I'm hearing about a new 'trend.' One in which the story of Santa, as told to children, is considered 'lying.' And -- oh that's baaad. You should NEVER lie to your kids or 'trick them. Or so say the perpetrators of this new trend.

Seriously, people.

Get a grip! It's fun, it's magic - don't deny the kidlets this. (And who among us has ever said, "No. I'm sorry honey. We don't have any ice cream - only to dig out the pint and wolf down a bowl of Hagan Daas once the kids are snuggly, tucked into bed?)

Life is anything but literal. Can you imagine a child's life without fairy tales or Dr. Suess?

Santa is just another fairy tale - nothing more. Let's all just settle down and re-experience our youth through the eyes of our children. From my experience, it's sometimes better the second time around!


What to do...


What do you do in a game of tug-of-war when you are the rope?



Thursday, December 6

Seriously, could they be any cuter?

Wow! Preschool pictures have changed A LOT since I was a kid.

And - no. I'm not telling you exactly how long ago that was. But somewhere along the way, photographers figured out that moms are suckers for photos.

Shhhh, don't tell Dave.

(If it's not running, click on the 'X' in the upper right corner to start the slide show)


Tuesday, December 4

Quote for the Day...


This is one for my girls...

"No boy is worth crying over and the one who is won't make you cry!"
~ anonymous ~

Find someone like your Daddy, and you'll be just fine.