Grandpa Bunny’s Farm

Chloe calls my dad Grandpa Bunny. Which is really funny, because my dad is about as un-bunny-like as one can be. And I think it is cute, if not downright hysterical. If you know my dad, you would agree.

My dad grew up on a dairy farm in New England. He milked cows, he farmed… I think he would have lived there his entire life had circumstances been different. Instead, he went on to college and then to vet school. He moved to California and began a long and distinguished career as a bovine practitioner. He carved an impressive niche for himself and, in some respects, changed the profession. And after 35 years of service, my dad officially hung up his sleeve and retired.

But not totally. While most people retire to a quaint little community or travel the globe, my dad started himself a farm. It is my dad’s little slice of heaven, where he gets to work on his cows and farm the land. It seems that his life has come full circle.

Last week, the girls and I traveled to visit my parents. My dad was so excited to take the girls to his farm and show them the cows. And of course, I had to take some pictures! So here is a brief glimpse into Grandpa Bunny’s Farm:

Grandpa's cows on pasture

My dad has all registered Angus cows… which it turns out, are totally different from dairy cows. You would think “a cow’s a cow”. Not so much. Anyhow, my dad called his cows over to come and see the girls. Chloe was not too interested, but Ella sure was!

Grandpa Bunny and Ella

Ella was too excited to see the cows to pose with Grandpa. The cows were pretty excited to see her, too:

Hi girls!

Hey, nice boots!

Chloe could care less about the cows. She saw one of my dad’s barn cats and took off:

Kitty!

Grandpa Bunny was all too happy to show Chloe his favorite kitty, Phantom:

Chloe meets Phantom

Grandpa and Phantom

A quick shout out to the illustrious Dr. Matt Stepnik who put Phantom back together again after an unfortunate misunderstanding with a large diesel truck. Matt – great work!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day:

Ella looking fabulous in the wind

Chloe equally as fabulous in the wind

A pensive Ella

A mischievous Chloe

SImon Says touch your ultra chic pink cowgirl boots!

Rockin' the hat, somewhat

Lest we not forget Grandpa Bunny. After all, it is his farm.

Grandpa and John... Deere, that is

Happiness is...

We watched the sun set over the farm and my dad said something that made me smile. He said “if I ever get to the point where I don’t know who or where I am, just stick me in a room painted green and yellow”. And I’ll be sure that the little green and yellow room has a window with this view:

Grandpa's Heaven on Earth

Dad, thanks for showing us around your farm. The girls and I had a wonderful time and we hope to come back and visit again. Please say “hay!” to the cows for us.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

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You’re King of the World!

Chloe is not big at eating at the table with everyone else. She takes a few bites of food, confidently states “I’m all done-d” and moseys off to do something more worthwhile. The other night during dinner Chloe raided the cupboard, the one full of her art projects and left over wrapping paper. She made quick work of a piece of blue tissue paper, wrapping it around her neck as though it were a cape. She began running around the house chanting “I’m King of the World!”. I thought it was only fitting the the King of the World have a crown, so I quickly fashioned one for her from a piece of silver tissue paper. And she ran round and round and round the house, cape rustling in the wake of her blistering speed. I asked her to stand still for a moment so I could take a picture of her royal highness. And then I asked her to pose. I said “Chloe, pose like you are King of the World!”. Would you like to see what the King of the World looks like?

Chloe, King of the World!

 

Chloe firmly planted her feet on the ground, thrust both of her fists in the air and then made the meanest mean face I have ever seen a three year old make. Dare I say she even puckered her lips! I don’t now about you, but I was scared of her. Well, the Hello Kitty t-shirt made it a little hard to be scared. That and the fact that she was wearing a cape and a crown made of tissue paper.

Anyhow, all the girls in the house got a chance to be King of the World. That’s right, I said King. Gary tried to correct Chloe and say “No, you are the queen!” but Chloe would have none of it. Gender clearly is a non-issue to her. Which made the little feminist in me proud. Anyhow, here is Ella in her crown (no cape for her):

Ella, King of the World!

 

And then it was my turn! I put on my crown and my cape and ran proudly around the house. Chloe trailed behind me in her feather boa proclaiming “Mommy! You are King of the World! You saved the world!”.

Mommy, King of the World!

 

It’s good to be King!

Oh, Yosemite

I’m a wee bit sad this evening. You see, every year that Gary and I have been together, we have made our annual pilgrimage to Yosemite. Usually sometime in the winter or early spring, when there is snow on the ground and a lack of tourists. It is our special place. It is where we were engaged, and where we would have gotten married if we wouldn’t have felt so badly about making 250 people drive there. And it has become even more special now that we have children. Chloe has been to Yosemite three times and Ella two, if you count the year that she was in-utero. But not this year. Somehow it slipped away from us…

So rather than lament about how disappointed I am that we are not upholding the McArthur Family Tradition, I am going to re-celebrate our visit from last year. Would you like to join me on my trip down memory lane?

We will start with our first night there. We usually eat in the dining room, but the thought of taking two small children there was frightening. So we ordered in and ate on the floor of our room. 

The carpet picnic

 

It is really funny to look at this because Ella is laying down. It is hard to believe that girl was ever not able to run around at the speed of sound. Ella was 5 months old and I needed to take her portrait for her 12 month frame at home. Here she is, looking very official:

Five Months

 

Oh how this photo makes my heart smile. Again, difficult to imagine her non-ambulatory.

The next day we wandered about the valley, all bundled up to keep warm. Ella in her Ralph Lauren bunting (thanks for the gift, Gracie and Rosanna), Chloe in her new fleece hat (which she hated):

Snug as a bug in a bunting

 

Chloe and her evil fleece hat

 

Here’s Chloe and her daddy. Ever wonder where she gets her personality from?

Chloe aka Gary Jr Jr

 

During this trip, I was getting pretty serious into photography. Gary was kind enough to watch the girls so I could go and play with my camera. I spent endless hours in the snow, trying to get some photos for a class that I was taking. Here is my favorite:

Yosemite Falls at Twilight

 

And as much as I love that shot of the Falls, this is still, and always will be, my favorite shot from Yosemite:

The McArthur Family

 

I hope to repeat this shot every year, a sort benchmark for us as a family. I don’t know if we will make it this year, but I sure hope so…

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I have always been a crammer. Never able to plan ahead or stay organized, I wait until the last possible second to finish something. Which unfortunately seems to have carried over in to the holiday season. Today is December 20th, five days before Christmas. Our tree has been up since Tuesday, but I only got around to decorating it today. Which isn’t too bad, I suppose. At least it isn’t Christmas Eve.

The girls were quite helpful in dressing the tree this year. Take a look:

Chloe's Favorite Ornament

 

She carried this rotund Santa around half the morning, saying “mommy, I just love it!”. It is now Chloe’s ornament.

Ella and her garland

 

Ella found the little red beads super exciting. She flung them around the floor, tying them in to knots that took about an hour to undo. 

Yummy garland

 

Apparently the beads taste good, too. At least they are helping soothe the two little teeth that are coming in.

View from the step ladder

View from the step ladder

 

Chloe did all that she could to get on the step ladder. I did all that I could to keep her off.

Each girl was kind enough to pose in front of the tree for me. Ella was a bit difficult to catch as she had bigger and better things to do.

Ella D

 

C. Belle

 

I’d like to take a moment to extol the virtues of shatterless Christmas ornaments. Without these, my dustbuster would be overheating and my girls feet would be shredded to bits. Speaking of the ornaments, the girls had a great time putting them in a bucket. Perfect opportunity to bust out the Lensbaby:

Festive

 

More Lensbaby fun

 

Santa, Lensbaby style

 

Chloe hanging some ornaments

 

The finished product

 

As you can see, we had some fun putting the tree together today. Even the dogs enjoyed themselves, watching the shenanigans from the comfort of their dog bed in front of the fireplace. I am just so happy that Gary splurged on an actual tree this year, instead of his usual Charlie Brown reject tree from the back of the lot. Thanks boyfriend for finally doing a respectable job in tree selection!

I must admit, I have been afflicted with some serious Christmas cheer this year. Gary has, too. And like my friend Mel, I have enjoyed seeing Christmas through my girls’ eyes. The joy, the wonder and the sweet innocence that fills their little hearts. 

I know that I am five days early in saying this, but I just can’t help myself:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Happy Birthday Chloe

Chloe’s third birthday was last week… I am such a slacker that it has taken me this long to write about it. Chloe turned 3 years old one week ago, with little-to-no fanfare. Poor girl got the shaft. Ella was sick, I was sick, daddy was working… fortunately Chloe is highly self-entertaining and managed to keep herself happy throughout the day. 

We had a small get together in Chloe’s honor on Saturday night: Grandma, Grandpa and a few close friends. Chloe received some wonderful gifts that she has not put down – garden tools from the grandparents, a doll house from Avery, as well as a Barbie doll (her first) and a Polly Pocket doll from Sydney and Shelby. We had some pizza, some cake, lots of laughs and good times.

The Birthday Girl

The Birthday Girl

 

Waiting patiently for cake

 

Coveting the cake, sneaking some frosting

 

Happy Birthday Chloe Belle. Happy Birthday to You!

 

Top 10 Things I Am Thankful For Today

This Thanksgiving Day, I have a lot to be thankful for. All the usual things, such as my health, my beautiful family, my super cool new house. I have plenty to be thankful for, indeed. And because I have a pathologic need to make lists to keep myself organized (or at least, to help me feel like I am organized), here is a Top Ten list of things that I am thankful for on this particular Thanksgiving Day, 2009.

10. Thanksgiving Day football – because I won’t be able to watch any football on Sunday.

9. Fly swatters – because flies at the Thanksgiving Dinner table are so uncouth.

8. Rich and Jacquie – who gave us a kick ass bottle of wine (I know that it was hard for you to give that bottle away, Rich – so thanks!).

7. The new fireplace – even though it still smells smokey, it is so nice and toasty. And it warms my heart to see all four of our kitties huddled around it, napping in pure kitty heaven.

6. Acorns – my girls have been collecting them all morning, making it possible for me to clean up the house and to cook.

5. Facebook – because it is great to see what all of my friends are doing today. 

4. Vaseline – because it will remove the “dots” Chloe applied to her cheeks, trying to make freckles.

3. My in-laws – because without them, my husband wouldn’t exist. And because they found us our new house. And they make great babysitters for the girls. And because they are two very nice people.

2. My husband – because without him, my girls wouldn’t exist. And because he is quite possibly the most wonderful man I have ever met.

1. My girls, Chloe and Ella – because without them, I wouldn’t exist. They have taught me how to be a more patient, more kind and more loving person than I ever thought possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I miss them already

I am sitting at the airport, waiting for my plane. I peeked in on my girls just before I left 2 hours ago, both sound asleep in their rooms. I kissed daddy goodbye before he left to work. Don’t worry, I didn’t leave the girls home alone. The fearless Emma is on board to watch the girls today.

I am off to visit with my sister and her family for a day, then I am off to my Photography Bootcamp with Kevin Kubota. I am so super excited to go and immerse myself in learning all things photography. And initially I was really excited to have several days to myself, alone at a resort in beautiful Oregon. No babies to wake me in the middle of the night, no diapers to change, no “No mommy”. And now as I sit here, I am filled with anxiety and sadness and am fighting the urge to cry in public. I haven’t been gone more than 2 hours and already I miss them. I know that they will be fine without me and that they will have a great time together. See:

_DSC0489

My beautiful and silly family

I am sure that Gary will send me plenty of photos throughout the week, as well as lots of silly messages with Ella saying “dah-deeeee” and Chloe saying “upside down, right ass up”. And he’ll probably take them on lots of nature walks around our house:

Hidden Valley 10-25-09-0346

In Hidden Valley

I mean, who wouldn’t be happy traipsing around this neck of the woods:

Hidden Valley 10-25-09-0380

Strollin'

Yeah, they will be fine without me…

Even so, it doesn’t make me miss them any less. 

I love you guys!