Fall Photos

It’s that time of year again… family photos! My friend and (former) neighbor, Keriann of Keriann Converse Photography has taken our photos for a few years and always manages to get the girls loosened up and having fun… or at least as much fun as they can, being forced to wear tights and follow directions for an hour.

We got our photos done EARLY this year–not only the month (September) but time of day (7:30 a.m.) Yes, 7:30 A.M. It took a  coordinated military precision effort and bribes of donuts to get everyone woken up, fed, dressed, hair done, out the door and on location that early in the morning. We were exhausted before it even started!

Getting there turned out to be the easiest part as Samantha and Amelia promptly went into meltdown mode, screaming about how COLD it was (and by cold, they mean 62 degrees) for the first 30 mins. Meredith played copycat and we had all three crying and two stressed out parents gritting their teeth through the majority of the shoot!

It’s amazing that Keriann got any good ones at all, considering what she had to work with that morning. She amazingly managed to make it look like no one was crying 90% of the time! Thanks, Keriann!

My favorite pic of Amelia:

Cute Samantha:

Too many cute ones of Meredith!

Meredith sported the same dress as Amelia wore back when she was 1 1/2:

60% of the family looking at the camera and half-smiling is a win in my book.


Jake usually scores the best photos with the girls, so I was so happy Keriann actually captured some cutes ones with the girls and me!

We are trying to not kill our children in this photo (lots of screaming going on behind the scenes).

Happy Meredith!

Slightly possessed Meredith.

Joyful Meredith!

Giving up on posing and letting them run loose actually made them smile more for the rest of the pics. They magically forgot how “freezing” it was.

Sister hugs.

Catching a smile from Amelia.

Super cute Sammy.

One of my all-times faves of the twins and me!


Daddy and Meredith laughing.

The individuals of Samantha and Amelia turned out so cute!

Silly as always.

This is what ACTUALLY went down 90% of the time. We may use this as our “real life” Christmas photo:

Behind the scenes pics on my phone: let’s get out of here!

Behind the scenes: everyone miserable!

Behind the scenes: Meredith was obsessed with some dogs running around and wouldn’t budge from her watching place.

Behind the scenes changing location:

As promised, we went out for hot chocolate as soon as we were finished with the shoot and breathed a sigh of relief. We arrived home by 9 a.m. and it felt nice being so dressed up and having the rest of the morning before us! I’ve decided that we need to implement a new Saturday morning regimen of being out the door by 7 a.m. and going for a hike in the “cold” every Saturday in order to toughen up the girls!

Happy Fall!

Lots of love,


Apple and Raspberry Picking at Oak Glen

Usually September and October are my least favorite months since it’s normally super hot, right when we want the temperatures to be cooling down, but this Fall has been the coolest in recent memory! Cooler, more fall-like temps have made it seem like we have actual seasons here! It’s been perfect weather for apple picking, which we did a few weeks ago in Oak Glen. We visited Snowline Orchard first and then headed over to Riley’s, all in-time to make our exit by noon when the entirety of the Southern California metropolis was heading up the windy mountain road to descend on the quaint little groves of apples.

Mmmm.. raspberries.

Look what I found!

Showing off their pickings before going in the general store for some fresh apple cider and mini apple donuts.

Meredith was just a baby when we last went to Snowline, so this was her first time experiencing the mini apple donut goodness.

Watching the cider press.

It was still a little early in the season at Riley’s so the crop wasn’t great, but the girls filled up their bags nonetheless. The good apples we ate and the bruised up ones we made into applesauce with the Instant Pot. Applesauce forever!

Much to the girls’ delight, there was a plethora of “olden-type” kids activities at Riley’s farm, with everything from making butter to tomahawk throwing (we stayed away from that section). The girls chose to make and decorate some birdhouses for their activity.

This didn’t end well. Both girls were a little on edge having woken up early to make the drive out here and when the poor helper lady made the mistake of gluing on Samantha’s moss to the birdhouse roof without letting her help, Samantha became, well, unglued. We high-tailed it out of there fast. At least Meredith had a great time!

Burning off the last little bit of energy with a picnic at a really fun local park.

A real teeter totter! YES.


My favorite part of the entire trip was this little unplanned stop at a random old schoolhouse. The free schoolhouse-turned-museum happened to be open, so Amelia (the only one who wasn’t melting down at that moment) and I took a quick tour. We were in love with this ADORABLE school!

My dream classroom, complete with inkwells, a phonograph, and a coal-burning stove for warming little hands. They had photographs of different classes who attended at this school, original cursive ledgers of roll call, handwritten notes from teachers– how Anne of Green Gables!

The girls don’t have desks at preschool, so I had to explain what this was. Amelia liked the idea of a place to keep all her paper and books!

Amelia graciously tolerate posing as my little vintage student. Would love to come back for themed back-to-school photos someday!

Happy Fall, ya’ll!

Lots of love,


1st Day of Preschool 2017

The day after Labor Day, the twins started up their second year of preschool!  Although it is bittersweet seeing the twins grow up, I am definitely not one of those weepy moms who needs therapy after the first day of school drop-off (no judgment to those who are, I just really have personal experience with that at all!) I was singing zip-a-dee-doo-dah and relishing my little break of time with just Meredith three days a week!

There was a little bit of angst at drop off time on the twins’ parts, but it was much better than the months of tears at drop-off we endured last year. The twins’ Montessori class includes kids 3-5, so now that they are a year older, they seem to feel more ownership over their class and have really enjoyed helping the new little ones learn the ropes. They both seem to love being leaders and especially Helper of the Day when it’s their turn, although we have to brace ourselves when either one is assigned to be the Helper, because whoever is NOT the Helper that day is usually inconsolably upset.

It’s also my first year being the official Room Mom for Samantha’s class which means I basically have to send out a lot of emails and bug parents with reminders all the time, but I secretly relish being in charge, even if it means I’m the annoying Room Mom! I’m sure the other parents try and steer clear of me when they see me at school for fear I’ll ask them to bring yet another donation to class or sign up for another volunteer opportunity 🙂

Amelia is in Miss Becky’s class again:

Samantha is in Miss Holly and Mr. Michaels’ class again:

So happy we’re back to uniforms! Makes having their girls choose their clothes for the day so much easier.


At drop-off and pick-up, Meredith goes crazy running around with the other kids and is pretty irate when we have to leave her sisters at the school.   She’s so tall that people often mistake her for one of the students.

This is the first year Amelia and Samantha have started staying for lunch and nap at school, which has been very convenient for Meredith’s nap schedule, and the girls have loved being able to stay and eat lunch with their friends.

At nap time, the kids rest on their mats, but a few don’t sleep, and Amelia and Samantha so far have been actually napping maybe 10% of the time. I was shocked since they still take regular 2-2.5 hour naps at home (I often have to wake them so their naps don’t interfere with bedtime).

The first few weeks, they complained that their mats weren’t comfortable and that they wanted to bring their pillows, blankies and stuffed animals (I think the black out curtains that make it pitch black in their room at home, as well as the white noise at home, have been too ingrained in their systems).

Now that school has been in session a few weeks, they seem to be getting used to the nap routine at school, but on the days they don’t nap, they have been incredibly cranky for the rest of the afternoon. We put them to bed early at 6:30 on those days, which has its benefits!

After drop-off, Meredith and I usually run errands, walk Bandit, go to the park or attend her music class. She is a lot less shy than the twins ever were and quickly makes friends wherever she goes. At music class, she loves to play the instruments, “sing,” and do all the hand movements. The twins went to the same Music Together program and it took them more than a year to feel confident enough to get off my lap! Meredith, on the other hand, runs around the classroom and says hi to the teacher and other kids like she owns the place.

With baby, then toddler and preschoolers napping, I haven’t been out of the house in the 2:30 p.m. hour in years, so the new school schedule has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us! I didn’t realize the world keeps spinning without us in those early afternoon hours, when I am usually home with sleeping kids.

On non-school days, by the time everyone wakes up from naps, the girls take forever to get going again (an object that is put in motion, stays in motion), so we normally stay home in the late afternoon, swim in our pool, or play in our own neighborhood. Now on school days, we’ve been out more often than usual in the afternoon. After pickup, we’ve been going out to the park, library, and out to feed the ducks. It feels so weird being out this time in the afternoon!

After a particularly rough week in which mean comments and bad attitudes courtesy of the twins were getting out of control, we instituted the Kindness Jar, in which the girls got to drop a pom pom in a mason jar every time we caught them doing something particularly kind. Once it was filled up, we went out for Golden Spoon after pick-up and rode around the park. It was meant to be a one-time thing to jumpstart them being deliberately more kind, but they were so enthusiastic about it, that we may bring the Kindness Jar back for the occasional refresher.

The twins decided it was okay to let Meredith have some frozen yogurt too even though she didn’t contribute to their jar.

Scootering around the lake.

Meredith loves to read at drop-off.

Have a great day, girls!

I was super excited when Miss Becky texted me a picture of Amelia starting to work on her word boards! Amelia was bursting with pride that day, telling us how she was learning to “read.”

Some school projects so far. I love how Samantha in her “self portrait” drew all three of her sisters. Identity issues?

Some of my projects for school so far have included helping host back to school night and bugging parents to bring donations to our superhero themed class gift basket that will be auctioned off at our fundraiser.

Amelia consistently talks about how silly she and her friends, Mila and Elliana, were that day (coincidentally, all three are usually the non-nappers in her class!).

Samantha’s group of friend seems to vary, but Ella is a constant, with Brooklyn and Kiyomi joining her to play “family” out on the playground.


I volunteered about once a month last year in both classes, but now that I’m the Room Mom, I’m pretty much the default volunteer. I came in Samantha’s class to help out with an art project and with the class platter that the kids paint and auction off at the school’s fundraiser. I had to go home and take a nap afterwards… I don’t know how preschool teachers do it, but all those little kids exhaust me! Here’s to a great school year!

Lots of love,


Mermaid Breakfast and Tall Ships Festival

The twins and I had a fun mommy daughter date at the Tall Ships Festival and Mermaid Breakfast in Dana Point on a beautiful Saturday morning! The twins loved walking around on the ships and hearing the boom of the cannons, as well as touching sharks and other sea creatures at the Ocean Institute.

Maybe next year we’ll get tickets for the pirate show where they take you out the ships, give you a job swabbing the deck and what not, and reenact a sea battle.

The tall ships were cool, but the twins’ favorite part of the morning by far was attending a special Mermaid Breakfast where they made crowns, gobbled up a pancake breakfast, listened to a mermaid read stories, and visited a swimming mermaid in the tank! There was another set of twins at our table and it was hilarious listening to both sets of twins vehemently argue whether or not the mermaids were real (Samantha would not budge on her theory that the mermaids were just humans dressed up as mermaids).

Starstruck when meeting the “human mermaid.”

Meeting more mermaids! I felt so bad for “Mermaid Rachel” swimming in the tank… she looked like she really regretted signing up for this gig! She would surface for a few minutes to catch her breath and would then dive back under, blowing bubbles and flipping her tail around for as long as she could hold her breath, before jetting back up, gasping for air with water streaming down her face and ruining her makeup.

The kids all thought it was awesome, of course, but it looked like a hard job! It didn’t help that the passive aggressive red-headed mermaid was constantly ordering her around, telling her to go back under and show the kids a flip or to resurface and answer questions about life under the sea (she couldn’t hear under the water, obviously, and the passive aggressive mermaid seemed agitated that she kept having to repeat instructions!) I almost gave her Jake’s employment law attorney card.

Samantha and the passive aggressive Head Mermaid.

Poor Mermaid Rachel had to dive under the water and pose for a picture 25 times for every kid! Props to her– that was a serious lung workout!

After watching the overworked mermaids, Samantha and Amelia are rethinking their life goal of becoming mermaids when they grow up.

Lots of love,