June 19, 2016
by gwendolyn
3 Comments

On This Father’s Day

I’m here to talk about my Father-in-Law, Andres or Andy, as most call him. Around our house he is more affectionately referred to as, Papa. Our kids kinda think he walks on water. They both talk about him CONSTANTLY. There is something about Papa that has caught their hearts.

In all honesty, I think most people who meet him feel this way.

He is a generous and personable human. When I met him he was set on remembering to call me Gwendolyn, just because I like it and wished more people made the effort. It’s quite a feat, too, when everyone shortens it to Gwen. He still introduces me as such, it’s very endearing and sweet.

That’s the kind of person he is. Focused on you and wanting to be the best he can, for you.

Another example is his friendship with a 107 year old man, Dell. He’s been going to his house since before I met him to take care of Dell’s house and cut his hair. It’s something that Andy never missed and they are friends, to this day. Imagine that, a friend who has surpassed triple digits for 7 years, absolutely amazing!

He’s a proud man, who loves his children and grandchildren. He’s the fun loving ‘Grandpa’ who’s always happy to see you, a little stern, but wants hugs and love from you every chance he can get. The kind of love and attention that makes you feel  special. The magic is that this makes you believe you are special, which is one of the kindest things a person can do for another.

He has a love for animals that can’t be beat. I mean he can’t believe we don’t let Domingo sleep in our bed at night. “How does he know he’s in the pack?” Andy says. Gil just laughs and I actually feel guilty until I think of all the dirt and hair that comes with the pup. Another example is when a wasp got caught in their skylight and he wanted to get a ladder to help it back outside. Forget the fact that he was hooked up to an oxygen tank. Say what….?

Which leads me to our last visit. It was last minute — buy tickets less than 24 hours before you take off — kind of thing. All because the family was sure he was in his last few days of life. Despite the fact that we had heard this before this felt different. So, we went and had a great time. During that visit Andy decided he wanted to go home from the hospital. He was done with pokes and prods. Makes total sense, who wouldn’t be?

So, he’s currently in hospice care, at home. His wife, Anne, the rock that she is has taken care of him and been such a bright light in all of this for us. She’s just as special as her husband.

A lifetime can be a long road. Andy has walked that path with grace. It hasn’t been easy and he has made his fair share of mistakes, but not without lessons learned. He’s a testament to that and bouncing back. I admire his faith, faith in others, their faith in him, his humility, his honesty and his ability to admit mistakes. I’m grateful to have met him and honored to call him my father-in-law.

Then there’s his children. Can’t forget about them! His daughters eat up every second they can get with him. Gil calls him so often he puts my family’s communications to shame. And whenever he calls Gil he asks to talk to me. In this day of personal cell phones that is something else. He’s made me feel a part of the family from day one. I mean, getting a birthday card from them before Gil ever did sure does lift your spirits.

So, on this Father’s Day I want to thank this special man for just being him. We adore you. You raised our precious, Gil. He’s a great man and amazing father. How lucky we are to call you both, ours.

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June 18, 2016
by gwendolyn
0 comments

Cecito’s First Haircut!

The kid is almost two, so we figured he was in need of a haircut. He has the most beautiful curls and I found it difficult to actually pull the trigger. Now that I have I’m really glad we did it. The back of his head would get matted up every time he was in his car seat, sitting on the couch, laying down…it was plain annoying. Not to mention the mullet, when you washed his hair and then brushed it, it was really close to being half way down his back. (Did I happen to mention he has the best curls!?)

So, here he is, in all his glory! He was a trooper in the chair, no crying or whining. Plus, he seemed really pleased with all the attention he was getting.

Miss LL got a haircut, too. A few months ago I took off two inches, but that wasn’t enough. Her hair was getting tangled more often then she was willing to brush it. So, another 3ish inches came off! She didn’t care, but didn’t like sitting in the chair, at all. No smiles, no talking…nothing…until she got some PINK painted on some strands. THEN, the lady put in sparkly streamers — I mean, does it get any better than that for a 4 year old?!?

(Plus, she said she was going to ask for pink hair before we got there.)

 

Before Haircut

Before Haircut

Half of the mullet curls.

Half of the mullet curls.

Such a happy little stud.

Such a happy little stud.

blending the short hairs

blending the short hairs

He was really good, but eventually needed the iPad.

He was really good, but eventually needed the iPad.

Still happy in the chair.

Still happy in the chair.

Brother and Sister getting a haircut in the empty salon.

Brother and Sister getting a haircut in the empty salon.

Our little dude isn't a baby anymore!

Our little dude isn’t a baby anymore!

No smiles. No talking. No responding to anything.

No smiles. No talking. No responding to anything.

Still nothing.

A whole haircut and….nothing.

Pink being painted on...

Pink being painted on…

Now she's trying NOT to smile...a little pink was all it took!

Now she’s trying NOT to smile…a little pink was all it took!

Adding in the streamers, pink sparkly.

Adding in the streamers, pink sparkly.

Waiting on Sister to be done.

Waiting on Sister to be done.

Happy Stud with a new Do and Happy Momma!

Happy Stud with a new Do and Happy Momma!

We still have pink the next day. Wonder what she will do when it washes out?

We still have pink the next day. Wonder what she will do when it washes out?

 

June 7, 2016
by gwendolyn
1 Comment

I’m Four Years Old!

IMG_1991How to sum up our little darling…she is everything.

She’s an Aries, so the fact that she is a bit of a stubborn ram doesn’t come as a surprise. She is caring and wants to take care of everyone, especially her little brother or any friend that is smaller than her. She is a tom boy who loves to ruff house with anyone who will take it. She is silly with a great sense of humor; if she hears something she doesn’t expect she usually says, “Aww, your’e just kidding!” She is a princess who loves dresses. She enjoys  entering a room of her pretend subjects, so she can bow and then dance with whomever is waiting for her at the end of the hall. She is a born athlete (we think) and can dance better than we can (totally sure of).

She’s a pixie with long limbs (surely, she gets that from me) who enjoys everything sparkly and can’t wait to jump on and off of everything around her. She still wants us around, almost all the time, and that’s a good feeling. She can throw a stink eye that will offend the sweetest grandma and a smile that will melt even the Grinch’s heart. Our Little Love sure does live up to her nickname. Which, by the way, she really enjoys us calling her.

Above all, she wants to feel special. It’s hard with an almost two year old around and you are the big sister (but still not really big, yet). I continue to love ‘big’ and ‘little’ hugs from her and will ask for kisses just to get one on every surface of my face. It’s freaking fantastic!

She is also a rule enforcer who tries to test those rules, constantly. Her adoration for her brother starts the second she wakes up in the morning but gets derailed quite easily in the heat of a battle. At that point, all bets are off and either one can prevail; and man, does she put up a good showing.

These days she talks a lot about going to a new school. She really can’t wait to learn more and is showing an aptitude for memorization (certainly doesn’t get from me). It’s quite astounding. She’s also really, really, really, REALLY into her friends. They are very important to her, and by the way…everyone is HER friend.

May 9, 2016
by gwendolyn
0 comments

Daycare Dance Party: Celebrating LL’s 4th Birthday

Our Little Love turned FOUR on April 5th. We celebrated by having a Dance Party! Well I tried to have a dance party. We hosted the party at the kid’s daycare/preschool, i.e. play land for preschoolers. There was a bounce house, play house, dance “area”, karaoke, and a ball pit! We completely forgot about the bubble machine, but with all the rest no one missed it. I’m not even sure when I realized that we forgot about it, probably once all the guests went home!

I made Dancing Ribbons as a thank you for the kids to take home. More commonly referred to as Montessori Hand Kites. The idea was for the kids to use them for the Dance Party, but I’m not sure I conveyed that idea very well. Anyway, the kids loved them, and they were asking me to trade for different colors or if they could have 3 or 4 to take home.

It was such a fun party! We even had special guests come all the way from LA. It was pretty amazing to see all our friends, together, with all of our kids having such a great time. That’s a lot of what these party represent for me. I enjoy planning them and doing all of this for my kiddos, but really I love getting everyone together to enjoy one another’s company. We don’t have family near so we rely on friends for these special occasions and they always come through. Plus, I don’t get any other times to host our friends; so these are also, for us.

This time around I changed the food up a bit. Of course, we still had the staples: fruit skewers and chicken salad on croissants. In addition there were raw veggie wraps and a fiesta salad. They were both easily made ahead of time, which is key in a DIY party (I’m slowly learning the tricks!). Now that all the kids are into desserts I ended up making two cakes; one funfetti with pink (raspberry) marshmallow fluff frosting and one chocolate with cream cheese frosting. Along with gooey butter funfetti cookies. Lots of fun and the birthday girl was in heaven!

The most memorable part of the day was when we were getting ready to sing to her. The cakes and cookies were brought out and all the kids descended upon them, but they were all incredibly well behaved. There wasn’t a plan and I wanted to include some decorations I made in the background only we couldn’t figure out how to do it. You see mother nature was trying to bestow rain upon us. Even though, in the end, she decided it wasn’t meant for us. It still made for difficult decisions on what went inside and what stayed onside so we would be prepared for a ‘run for cover’ moment. With all that these 2ish to 5ish year olds were left to drool over 2 cakes and a platter of cookies for way to long; by some miracle they actually kept their paws to themselves. After that, we sang and I tried to keep the candles lit, it did not work, but that’s ok…I improvised! One by one I lit each one and L.L. blew them out with a huge smile and lots of giggles. That, my friends, is what memories are made of. It even produced my favorite picture of the day.

Speaking of, here are all the wonderful pictures. Taken by my lovely friend, Kim. She saved the day by jumping in as the photographer since I still haven’t gotten my dSLR fixed from a Christmas day brawl with Cecito. Doh!

Our Family.

Our Family.

Birthday Girl! She kept saying, you turned 4040 and I'm going to be 40. Ha!

Birthday Girl! She kept saying, you turned 4040 and I’m going to be 40. Ha!

School friends. So fun to see her blossom into such a little lady.

School friends. So fun to see her blossom into such a little lady.

Special Neighborhood Friend!

Special Neighborhood Friend!

This poor dude didn't feel well that day.

This poor dude didn’t feel well that day.

Dance Floor Decorations

Dance Floor Decorations

I tried to make a wall of fringe for the dance area, it didn't work out so well.

I tried to make a wall of fringe for the dance area, it didn’t work out so well.

Hello Jumpy House!

Hello Jumpy House!

I was supposed to draw a milestone sign. Instead it was a drawing station. Notice the 'doctor mermaid'. LL's intended profession when she grows up. Handy work by the esteemed Sarah.

I was supposed to draw a milestone sign. Instead it was a drawing station. Notice the ‘doctor mermaid’. LL’s intended profession when she grows up. Handy work by the esteemed Sarah.

Dancing Ribbons! So many colors to choose from. I enjoyed making these.

Dancing Ribbons! So many colors to choose from. I enjoyed making these.

Play house!

Play house!

Karaoke!

Karaoke!

Cars and Trains! (and My Little Pony)

Cars and Trains! (and My Little Pony)

Ball Pit Fun!

Ball Pit Fun!

A party isn't a party without a sphinx kitty cat!

A party isn’t a party without a sphinx kitty cat!

The oh-so-lovable Miss K. Daycare Preschool Owner.

The oh-so-lovable Miss K. Daycare Preschool Owner.

Food, food and more food!

Food, food and more food!

Just a little fruit snack.

Just a little fruit snack.

Party hats were essential. LL let's us know whenever anything can look like a party hat. Like, a cheese wedge...every single morning I hear this fact with it dangling over her head in laughter.

Party hats were essential. LL let’s us know whenever anything can look like a party hat. Like, a cheese wedge…every single morning I hear this fact with it dangling over her head in laughter.

Sweet Momma and Daughter Shot

Sweet Momma and Daughter Shot

More Mommas with school friends!

More Mommas with school friends!

Daddy with Cecito's favorite friend.

Daddy with Cecito’s favorite friend.

My Momma Friend

My Momma Friend

SO FUN and lovely of my Momma friend and her son.

SO FUN and lovely of my Momma friend and her son.

Daddy's in on the party fun.

Daddy’s in on the party fun.

Almost cake time, LL is SO excited!

Almost cake time, LL is SO excited!

Funfetti is done. Now let's do chocolate, Daddy!

Funfetti is done. Now let’s do chocolate, Daddy!

More cake, please!

More cake, please!

PRESENTS!

PRESENTS!

Cecito trying to get in on the karaoke fun.

Cecito trying to get in on the karaoke fun.

More jumpy house.

More jumpy house.

Melting in the Ball Pit!

Melting in the Ball Pit!

What do you mean it's not MY birthday!

What do you mean it’s not MY birthday!

*****************************************************************************

Party Lifesaver

Party Lifesaver

I have to add in a very special thank you to this lady. She arrived at 9am to help me set everything up for the party. We would have been without balloons and probably much more if she was unable to lend a helping hand. She put out the food and helped me with many decisions. Honestly, I don’t know where the two hours went. She’s my mom friend and I’m so thankful to have met her.

*****************************************************************************

Lastly, here’s a video of the candle blowing! Another part to the extended wait time was that a family friend just arrived with a gift. LL had to get off her chair to get her present and it take to the gift table. I guess this is the year that they figure out presents and just how much fun they are? That’s what you see in the first still for the video; somehow I convinced her back into her chair and got the gift for her. Whew!

 

March 16, 2016
by gwendolyn
0 comments

Celebrating Forty!

As you know I turned 40 in January, what I didn’t share was how we celebrated. Of course, we did it in style and it was a lot of fun.

The day started off with a family outing to Breakfast Republic and it was outstanding! The food, the service and the company made it a very special meal. First the waiter overheard we were celebrating a birthday, so he brought us a warm coffee cake on a plate of “Happy Birthday” in raspberry and maple syrup. Everyone at the table loved that it saved us from squirmy Cecito complaining about having to sit still for the food to arrive. When our food arrived it only got better, it was exactly what I wanted. Flight of pancakes, unique eggs benedict and a skillet of eggs crammed with everything yummy.

We came home and Daddy made me a delicious chocolate cake! That was pretty darn special, too.

Then, we had a fun night out with friends at Draft Republic. Old roommates, single life friends, before kids friends, mom friends, neighbors and an old co-worker were in the mix. I felt very loved and special, which is exactly what I am looking for on my birthday. Just take a look at the pictures, can’t you feel the fun!?

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IMG_0055 IMG_0065 (1) IMG_0074 IMG_0076 IMG_0112 IMG_0117 IMG_0108 IMG_0120 (1) IMG_0133 IMG_0152 IMG_0178 IMG_0123 IMG_0124 copy IMG_0137

Can’t forget Ashley, our extra special babysitter for the evening. LL made her read about 8 books and for sure thought she was the one in charge. Thank you Ashley, you made the night happen for both of us. Plus, a special thank you to the hubs, he was our chauffeur for the evening. All of us from the North Park area and our overnight LA guests are ever-so-grateful. Muah!

 

February 4, 2016
by gwendolyn
2 Comments

Better, Brighter and More Beautiful…Forty!

On January 22, 2016 I turned 40; the big four-oh, over the hill, fabulous forty, I’ve finally made it to “the club”…did I miss any?

There’s a lot to be said about turning 40, for me. Not everyone feels that this is a rite of passage, but man, I sure did. For at least a year I’ve been talking about this momentous occasion. I knew that it had to feel big and well celebrated or I would be let down. Let’s be honest here, I love birthdays and I enjoy feeling the spotlight love from as many friends and family that want to give it. I’m a true extrovert that gets immense energy and good vibes from the gobs of attention a birthday usually brings.

In general, people let you know how much they appreciate you on your birthday. They will recall all the great memories you both share through all the good times of becoming friends. Together you can walk down memory lane like it was yesterday and it feels good. I tend to hold onto friends for the long haul. We can pick up exactly where we left off no matter how much time has passed. Which means these nostalgic conversations are usually pretty entertaining and filled with lots of warm fuzzies that I carry with me as long as I can; it gives me perspective.

Turning 40 has taken me on a path of self discovery that I am happy to say has left me in a good place. This journey isn’t over, I’m sure of that, but I feel content in knowing that I am in what society considers, mid-life. The past year, leading up to it, has felt a bit like a mourning period, that I wasn’t even aware of. All I could do was talk about turning 40 and how that made me feel extra old even though I didn’t feel like I should be. What I didn’t realize was that what I really wanted was confirmation that I wasn’t that old, looked better than I felt I did and that life wasn’t about to be on the downhill.

Now I realize that all the times I wanted to post about all my accomplishments and life events was just another way to make myself feel better, from others, because I thought it would make a difference. I thought it would make me feel validated and special. Somehow it seemed that 40 meant I needed to list off all the check boxes for my so-called bucket list, but it’s not.

My second act is just at the beginning. Nothing has happened as I expected it to and I’m pretty sure that the rest of it won’t either. Predictions are useless. The one thing I am sure of is it will all happen the way it’s supposed to.

January 19, 2016
by gwendolyn
0 comments

Christmas, 2015

Okie dokie! Our Christmas wasn’t very eventful but I got great pictures, so I figured those are worth a post.

We woke up with Cecito and had to wait for LL about 20 minutes. She’s started sleeping later these days, and by later I mean 7am. We opened gifts and got a little surprise. Cecito was really into it, unlike his big sis at this age. My best memory of the day was that they would share opening gifts! We would take turns with each of us and they were more patient than I expected. It was especially adorable that when I pulled out a gift for them to open they plopped in my lap and then opened it, together. Super cute and very fun!

The rest of the morning was spent on the phone with family. Later that day we explored out the door to have dinner at a friend’s house and that was it! We had a great time with our little family and some good friends. Christmas was a success!

Tip toe decorating

Tip toe decorating

teeny tiny guitar...err, violin!

Teeny tiny guitar…err, violin!

Eskimo Kisses!

Eskimo Kisses!

I want to put it high, Daddy!

I want to put it high, Daddy!

I love you Daddy, thank you. (this happened multiple times, in a row)

I love you Daddy, thank you. (this happened multiple times, in a row)

Meeting Santa at school. Cecito was not amused. While LL did GREAT!

Meeting Santa at school. Cecito was not amused. While LL did GREAT!

Night before Christmas.

Night before Christmas.

Opening their first gifts. He would take a little piece off at a time and hand it to us to put in the trash. Those first ones took a LONG time.

Opening their first gifts. He would take a little piece off at a time and hand it to us to put in the trash. Those first ones took a LONG time.

She loved her book from Bi-Nana!

She loved her book from Bi-Nana!

Cecito loved his Three Little Birds book, too! We now listen to Bob Marley for the "Gonna Be Alright" song all the time. Thanks Bi-Nana!

Cecito loved his Three Little Birds book, too! We now listen to Bob Marley for the “Gonna Be Alright” song all the time. Thanks Bi-Nana!

Her first sweatshirt was a hit! Thank you, Auntie Rae Rae!

Her first sweatshirt was a hit! Thank you, Auntie Rae Rae!

We had to put on the fairy princess skirt - right away! Notice the belly button? We have to unzip the "jammas" so she can get to her belly button, or else it's ALL OVER folks!

We had to put on the fairy princess skirt – right away! Notice the belly button? The “jammas” must be unzipped so she can get to her belly button, or else it’s ALL OVER folks!

Daddy's new coffee carafe. Perfect weekend addition, thanks Tom!

Daddy’s new coffee carafe. Perfect weekend addition, thanks Tom!

Cecito opening gifts with LL.

Cecito opening gifts with LL.

LL stoked about her Frozen cd. Thank you Aunt Cori!

LL stoked about her Frozen cd. Thank you Aunt Cori!

So much excitement for Cecito!

So much excitement for Cecito! He was dancing around with a little quiche in his hand.

She wears this little number all the time now. Perfect Aunt Cori!

She wears this little number all the time now. Perfect Aunt Cori!

More opening gifts together!

More opening gifts together!

After bath in his Dr. Seuss shirt. LL wore it until she was almost 3. He has outgrown it now. Eek!

After bath in his Dr. Seuss shirt. LL wore it until she was almost 3. He has outgrown it now. Eek!

New jammies! They wear them every night and will until they don't fit anymore. Which is almost upon us. They are growing at a faster pace these days.

New jammies! They wear them every night and will until they don’t fit anymore. Which is almost upon us. They are growing at a faster pace these days.

Our first gingerbread house!

Our first gingerbread house!

We all decorated it together while Cecito napped. Next year, buddy!

We all decorated it together while Cecito napped. Next year, buddy!

January 5, 2016
by gwendolyn
0 comments

Look Who’s 1 +1/2

Holy cow, how did we get here?

Our Corazoncito is 18 months old! He’s been walking for 7 months, so that means he climbs on everything! He’s also a chatty little thing that is reminiscent of a parrot. His vocabulary is out of this world, for his age; and it’s becoming clearer where he can enunciate every letter. He’s a sweet boy, but sure does know how to hold his own with his big sister. Smart as a whip and learns things way faster than I can keep up with.

Little boys, what can I say…exhausting, amazing, but exhausting.

His little face is one of my favorite things these days and those cheeks! Momma still kisses them all the time and goes overboard when warm cheek happens. Giving kisses is something that happens on a whim with this kid. Domingo gets the majority of them, yet last week he decided to kiss Daddy’s 1962 Impala as we walked by. The rest of us have to ask and almost beg for kisses, but he usually gives in. Hugs are in the form of leaning over and putting his cheek on you, it’s quite adorable.

These days LL has hung the moon. Even though, he’s taken quite an interest in pulling her hair, head-butting her (and everyone else) and… well, take your pick of anything else a little brother can do to mess with a big sister. He’s got them all down pat! One thing they both love to do right now is stand in a circle, with me, count to three then jump! Little mister can actually get both feet off the ground at the same time! He also, counts out loud with us. I’m a proud Momma, can you tell?

After reading LL’s 18 month post I realized that there was a lot of focus on sleep. I don’t think that I have talked a lot about that with this little dude. Probably because he’s a great napper. They aren’t all that long every time, but he’s getting there. It’s taken us a while to consolidate and get on a good schedule where he will snooze for 2 hours, but we are pretty much there. It’s great! Even if he fusses and says “no nap! no nap! no nap!” I can leave him in the crib, close the door and less than 2 minutes he’s out or at least completely quiet settling himself into sleep. We have come a long, long, long way from the beginning where he was crying if he was awake and it took us 3 hours to get him to even consider closing his eyes.

Last week we had his well check and he passed with flying colors! Totally healthy (minus the 3 month cough and runny nose). He’s getting in one canine and you can tell the other three are working their way out. He was climbing and jumping all over the exam room, saying “no nap” when we tried to lay him down to measure his height and digging through my bag looking for snacks. Such personality.

Lastly, he’s a 35percenter:
32″ tall
23lbs 2oz
49 cm head (89% for that big brain)

Growing just like any other kid. Becoming the picky eater that his older sis is (lovely). And still sporting bruises all over from running his head into everything possible. The other day he ran flat into the end of the kitchen counter wall. I thought he was going to turn, like he normally does, but no. For some reason he just bounced right off it! Arnica was busted out and that was that…it’s our typical day, his normal way and I couldn’t love the little buggar more.

Learning to use a spoon!

Learning to use a spoon!

Wearing Momma's socks.

Wearing Momma’s socks.

First day of school with big sis.

First day of school with big sis.

Beach Toddler!

Beach Toddler!

Enjoying the zoo.

Enjoying the zoo.

Going outside.

Going outside.

Hard at work!

Hard at work!

Snacks at the zoo.

Snacks at the zoo.

Tired little guy at the beach park.

Tired little guy at the beach park.

Thanksgiving fun. Look at that face, he's growing up.

Thanksgiving fun. Look at that face, he’s growing up.

His first flight, napping on Daddy.

His first flight, napping on Daddy.

He loved the outdoor trampoline!

He loved the outdoor trampoline!

Sister reading to little bro before bedtime.

Sister reading to little bro before bedtime.

No way am I waiting for you, Daddy and LL!

No way am I waiting for you, Daddy and LL!

He's in a Daddy fix and it's the cutest!

He’s in a Daddy fix and it’s the cutest!

Coolest dude on the playground.

Coolest dude on the playground.

December 23, 2015
by gwendolyn
0 comments

Thanksgiving in LA, 2015

Hello everyone! I am finally getting around to Thanksgiving, just squeaking by before Christmas.

This year we decided to go see my friend, Kristi. She was my roommate in art school, so we have known each other a long time, at this point in our lives. She comes down for most of our family events, so I was happy to return the favor and make it up to see her for this festive holiday.

Plus, LL thinks that she is the coolest person I know (I think). She definitely talks about her a lot. Not to mention, she’s the one that brought a massive, box of three train sets for the kids on the day we celebrated LL’s 3rd birthday. Another thing I am reminded of regularly.

Our day started off with breakfast at home, packing up the car and then heading out. Hit some LA traffic, per usual, arriving for our holiday fun around 11:30am. We relaxed, played, and took pictures for our holiday cards. It was amazing and I loved it. You see, Kristi studied photography while we were in school, so my plan was to have her take our family picture and it totally worked. Lucky us, because the tripod and timer gig was proving to be a no-go with two kiddos and a dog.

Eventually, her friends and family arrived and we all got to overindulge ourselves with lots of yummy food. The special treat was having our third roommate there, Sarah. She recently moved to LA from Chicago and we are thrilled to have her close to us. Even LL approves. The day after Thanksgiving she was sitting next to Sarah at lunch, turned to her and said, “I like you.” More than likely with her cute, almost embarrassed, smile. I didn’t see it, but I sure did hear it and it warmed my heart.

Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures. We were having such a great time that I didn’t think about it. When you get the three of us together there is always plenty of chatting and laughing going on. I feel very blessed to have these two girls just a couple of hours away. I have missed feeling like I have “family” close by to celebrate with and make the west coast feel even more like home.

So, next I will share the pics we took for our cards. Enjoy!

Front of our card, it's the best we could do.

Front of our card, it’s the best we could do and I love it.

Can you tell which one of us has a photoshopped 'new' face?

Can you tell which one of us has a photoshopped ‘new’ face?

This one didn't get used, but I like it. Plus, another photoshopped face!

This one didn’t get used, but I like it. Plus, another photoshopped face!

These cars were a huge hit for the kids. They are almost parent-proofed. You see the bruise on Cecitos forehead that I had to clean up for the other shots?

These cars were a huge hit for the kids. They are almost parent-proofed. You see the bruise on Cecitos forehead that I had to clean up for the other shots?

They are good pics, but man was I disappointed that I forgot my makeup. This is me in all my Mom Glory with fresh clean face right after an amazing shower that I got to take alone without interruption. Perfection.

December 1, 2015
by gwendolyn
1 Comment

Beverly Stewart: Someone I Will Never Forget

Sometimes there are people you meet that stick with you. Well, Beverly Stewart wasn’t just one of those people; she was the kind of person that became a part of you.

She was my voice teacher in high school and you wouldn’t think I would be taking this so hard, unless you knew her. You see, she passed away yesterday. I saw the news on Facebook and couldn’t process it. That was surprising for me since I knew she had been sick for a number of years now. Today I saw others post about their grief so now I’m facing my own sense of loss.

Bev was incredible. A soul that brought out the best in everyone. It’s strange because I feel as though I have lost a part of myself. Not because I actually have, but because she represented a part of myself that I have always clung onto. Singing on stage was a thrill, a rush of happiness for me that can’t be measured. She made me feel like I had natural talent. She made me better. She made me understand that I had to trust myself and believe in myself. It was her believing in me that made it easy to think that I was worth more.

You see, in high school, self worth was a hard thing to come by, for me. It might come as a surprise to some, but it’s true. Singing was pretty much the one thing that I felt I would ever be good at. When I started taking lessons from Bev it was like a whole new world opened up for me. Suddenly, I saw my life unfold before me. She trained me and helped me get the lead role of Reno Sweeny in my high school musical, Anything Goes, as a Sophomore. It was the most exciting thing I had ever accomplished. That would be the last big part I ever had in a school production, but it didn’t stop her from making me feel my dreams could come true.

She even called my mom once, just to tell her that I could “go far”. That I had true natural talent and all I needed to do was cultivate it and work hard. It’s something that I will never forget and have held onto all these years like a fragile secret. I was a teenager then, and it was easier to think I wasn’t very talented after a run in with another teacher and only making the chorus after Anything Goes. So I hate to say it, but I haven’t performed since graduating. It’s sad for me. However, that experience made a profound difference in my life. For so many years I held onto the words they both said. It took years before I let go of the negative and have only held onto the positive. Bev made that possible for me. And when it really mattered, I was able to get past the bad things that happen in life, as they always do. So, I am grateful for that lesson, too.

I’m lucky, really, years ago I wrote Bev a letter thanking her for her profound influence in my life. Later, I was able to connect with her on Facebook and we discussed the letter. She said she wrote back but the letter was returned to her. I was afraid she wouldn’t remember me, but she assured me that wasn’t possible. I was able to reiterate how she’s been the most influential person in my life and she told me she was “deeply touched” I remembered her so fondly. It surely didn’t feel like 15 years had gone by since our last meeting, even though it had.

A few years later I was encouraged to come visit her before her health declined too much from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Since I live across the country from her I was unable to do so. Which made our reconnection in 2009 a blessing.

From now on I will think of her when I listen to Les Mis, The Secret Garden, Pippin…to name a few. When I trim the Christmas tree with all the ornaments I received from her over the years. Listen to the vocalization tape (yes, that means a cassette and I still have it) she made for me. And enjoy all the other gifts she bestowed upon me. I can only hope that my years of being trained by her has taught me how to be such an inspiration. Her lovable yet stern teaching ways were sharp as a tack and some of the most cherished memories I have from those formative years. Her warmth and beauty will live on, along with her own wonderful voice.

Thank you, Bev, you made me a better human.

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Beverly Jean Stewart: October 10, 1934 – November 30, 2015

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