2016

The late year. The year of saying yes.

A practiced skill continues to improve; when ignored it fades.

I’ve been ignoring writing lately, and I hate that. It’s certainly taken a back-burner to the rest of life that has been happening as of late; I still need to tell you all about 2016 and write my tardis entry for the year. Seeing as it’s almost March I am incredibly tardy; but I hope that once I can manage to put together an explanation, it will be understandable.

The main unit of measurement here is exhaustion. Happy exhaustion to be sure, but exhaustion to the point of coming home and watching Master Chef, not coming home and using more energy to write.

So, feeling like a bomb that’s about to explode (we’ll get to that later) – here I am, to write about 2016 before I am exhausted in a way that not even glassy eyed viewings of Master Chef will be able to cure.

**January** may have been the beginning of the Master Chef/Reality TV priority shift, as Neil and I finally started watching the incredible train wreck known as The Bachelor. It’s amazing, it’s terrible, it’s exactly what we needed. We still watch. In other, more important news though, January was when Paige started walking! I cannot believe this now as I’m looking at her running and jumping and riding her bike, but it was just last year that she took her first very wobbly steps. She is a bundle of energy, a bundle of joy, and is the absolute light of our lives. It shows in the photos that we took at the end of January for my mom’s birthday – I remember spending most of the time not in front of a camera chasing Paige down the warehouse studio as she tried out her new, faster movement abilities.

**February** brought a wonderful magic show at the Pantages for Neil and I’s anniversary. (6 years! and 10 together!) I also started my own little side gig, building wordpress designs with the intention to sell templates to local mommy businesses. I was also taking job interviews (and had been for a few months), but being incredibly picky about location and hours, so I decided that if I hadn’t landed anything solid and up to my standards by the end of February, I would dive into my own business full time for a while and see what happens. With this knowledge, we enrolled Paige in daycare for three half days a week to start, and I was immediately floored at what I could accomplish with a little time just to myself – something I had forgotten in the previous year spent at home with her. We also had another big milestone with Paige – and washed her last bottle ever in Februrary. Again, looking at her now – I have a hard time believing this was only a year ago. It’s incredible.

Per usual when I set myself any sort of deadline, the universe aligns (or, ya know, maybe it’s just my own hard work), and things fall into place. The last day of February I got a job offer for a local company full of enough interesting people that I decided to give it a shot. In **March**, I started as a digital producer for a just-crazy-enough place that the only thing I can really say without a doubt that it stays interesting. As of today, I am still employed with them. I am a bit sad about my wordpress company falling by the wayside, but as noted above – it’s been a wonderful, exhausting year. We switched Paige to full-time daycare, which to sum up quickly, was as hard as everyone says it is. Very luckily for us, we had found a wonderful place for her, full of loving teachers and an owner who really cares. The knowledge that she is being loved by so many makes those long days just a bit easier. Also – I should note that as the requisite social butterfly born of two introverts, she LOVES it, and has since day one.

**April** was quiet. It was mostly spent adjusting to being a working mother, a working family. Neil and I had to figure out new routines, and I am happy to say that we, as usual, make an awesome team. Weekends were spent on local hiking trails or at the park, evenings were for walking and catching up with love, life, Paige.

**May** stayed par for the course, we had a lot of fun weekend adventures with Paige, including going to the local teaching zoo! She loved the monkeys until they started making noise, and then they were less trustworthy. It was a great weekend that I think we will refresh quite a bit. Neil treated me to a spa day at the Four Seasons for Mother’s day – he spoils me rotten. Then he went mountain biking on Memorial Day weekend, and for the second year in a row, injured himself. It’s now a blackout date, we’ve all agreed he’s not to do anything except possibly BBQ in future years.

**June** found us a Saddle Peak for Father’s day, which Neil loved, (score!) and at a wonderful weekend barnyard wedding up in Northern California for a good friend. I should mention here that it was a wedding with an open bar. An open bar with fancy bride and groom and farm themed cocktails served in little mason jars tied up with string. Adorable. And I had exactly zero, because the morning we left for the airport I decided to give in to the tiny voice inside my head (mostly so I could enjoy my unending stream of mason jar cocktails in peace) and take a super-early-result pregnancy test. Which apparently, work really well. I came out of the bathroom and flung it at Neil. We had been planning on this, but it was still a shock that it happened so fast. He grinned at me. “That was easy.”

**July** started with a wonderful Big Bear trip, and then the rest of the month came and went as long summer days do, with a beach day, our first doctor appointment, and oh – tearing part of the roof off our house to remove an enormous beehive. It was around this time that the reality of bringing another newborn into our house (link) started to set in, and the questions in the back of our heads became poundings at the front. I’m not sure exactly when we decided to start looking for new houses, but being newly pregnant, sick, and reliving all of the realities of how difficult it was to live there with tiny humans certainly had me looking somewhat longingly at open house listings.

True to our “get shit done” MacMillan nature, by **August** 10 (which happens to be my birthday) we had put in an offer, gotten it accepted, and listed our current house. I was plugging along with this pregnancy, feeling okay (not great, but not nearly as sick as with my first), and we were getting our lives in order to take advantage of making things as easy as possible for everyone. Which meant moving. Moving to a house where you could bring in groceries without training for Everest, where you could walk with a stroller to a local park, where there are sidewalks and streetlamps and people who walk their dogs and say hello. A cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood. Call us sellouts, but we love it.

August also brought a miniature family reunion in the form of my dad’s 75th birthday. All of my brothers and sisters flew in and we spent the weekend at a beach resort not too far from here, but it felt like a wonderful mini vacation. This is also when Neil and I finally spilled the beans on the new pregnancy; there’s no way I would have gotten away with not getting sloshed with my sister without someone figuring it out. It was a great memory, and I hope to do something similar again in the future.

By **September** we had closed on the new house, and Neil’s sister painted Paige’s new room as a wonderful meadow, and as of **October** we moved in. We completely, massively, enormously, devastatingly, underestimated how difficult it would be to sell a house with a thousand stairs, and so these month proved to be stressful. From living there and trying to keep things perfectly clean with a toddler, to packing while pregnant and trying to carry things up and down, to just the knowledge that we were very quickly going to be facing two mortgages. There were many tears and even more tears that there couldn’t be many, many glasses of wine on my part. But the new house has proven since day one, to be so worth it. The first weekend we were in we walked to one of the local parks for a festival that was happening, where Paige got to pet (amongst other critters) an owl! She is fearless. I love it. Just a few weeks and a trip to a working farm/pumpkin patch later, we hosted a small birthday party for her, and seeing everyone gathered around our new kitchen island, sitting in the backyard, and being so comfortable made our hearts triple in size. Like the grinch, we had finally found the love that a workable home can give. (As a selfish aside, I also finally have my amazing deep soaker tub that I thought would only ever be a pipe dream.)

**November** brought the usual chaos of the upcoming holidays, this year including election day, which I am choosing to ignore in this entry for the sake of small ears and my own general sanity. We also got Paige her first “real” haircut (we had been trimming her bangs for a very long time but this was a full style – and she hated it with a firey passion. We’ll see when that happens again. Oof. Neil and I also got a treat from my parents and got a date to see Hedwig at the Pantages – it was a great (and very wet!) afternoon. Somewhere in this time period I also had a gestational diabetes scare, (everything is good), a total and utter breakdown about the two houses that we owned, politics, and a general feeling that the sky was falling.

Not long afterwards, we got an offer on the house and were able to save a few more bucks by selling it as-is. By **December** it had closed, and all of the toppling dominoes in life could be organized again. I like to say that I deal pretty well with stress, but as I told my boss somewhere around this time when they offered me a promotion, I can only handle so much at once. This said, December proved to be a beautiful balance back to the way life should be. We took Paige to see Santa (EPIC FAIL) and baked gingerbread cookies, and finished the year with Neil and I puking our guts out all of Christmas day. Oh, what? Yeah.

2016. It was like that. So much, so dumb. So hard, so epic-ly, wonderfully good.

2015.

Dear lord, where do I start.

2015. The year of letting go. I have a 1700 word essay on this already, and it will stay in hibernation for a while, until I figure out what to do with it. Let’s just say that for me, as a person, 2015 was a big year.

But it was an even bigger year for our family as a whole. In an effort to actually get this entry done (alas, I have less time to sit and contemplate the calendar as I have in years past) I will be mostly using pictures from my social media accounts. I figure, if I thought they were extra-special enough to share, they are probably the better of the 1000+ photos that I’ve taken this year.  (You’ll get some of those too, I’m sure, but I certainly won’t be sifting through the entirety of them.)

 

January

Started with REI Garage Sale madness where I bought a new and better diaper bag. Because we are the diaper-bag-from-REI kind of family.

We successfully hosted a small gathering of friends for a late Christmas get-together, and exchanged gifts and hugs.

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The next weekend we took Paige down to Santa Monica to see some family that was in town, (and to see grandma and her cousin) and almost got her to a first beach trip, but it rained all day. Next time!

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Paige and I also started mommy and me classes in January, which turned out to be one of the best decisions ever. I met some wonderful women and babies, and started to finally find my feet as a mom.

Out-of-the-house: Neil went on a canyon and a couple of mountain bike rides. I got a haircut, which felt like a pretty awesome achievement.

Paige’s first: trip to the microbrewery, hiking via baby-wearing.

 

February

We had a super bowl party! The little things really feel like big things this year. It was a wonderful afternoon full of babies and friends and drinks and laughter.

Went to visit the Getty. With my return to work date looming and heavy on my thoughts, this was a very important trip for me. It was on this trip that I realized that I didn’t want to go back – at least not to that job.

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At the end of the month we celebrated our 5 year anniversary with a day trip to Santa Barbara, hiking San Ysidro trail. What was supposed to be a spectacular waterfall at the end was a pretty sad statement on the drought of California, but it was a nice day nonetheless. We followed it up with a couples massage.

Out-of-the-house: We had a playdate on a rainy afternoon in Burbank, dinner at Onyx at the Four Seasons, and a lot of long afternoons at the park.

Paige’s First: Getty visit!

 

March

A long afternoon picnicking at the park for Neil’s company’s spring picnic led us to fighting serious baby-eczema. All turned out okay, but that was a theme for the rest of the year.

I got back on the bike!

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Neil and I went to Alton Brown’s stage show at the Pantages, which was both as nerdy and wonderful as it sounds. Think burping, tooting, yeast hand puppets.

Out-of-the-house: Neil did a couple of night canyon and bike rides, and I had my first bike ride post-baby!

Paige’s First: rolling over (tummy to back) Totally adorable until she startles herself out of a nap upside-down and screams bloody murder.

 

April

Easter with Aunt Victoria!

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Paige ate food! She Gave Peas A Chance. She Didn’t Like Them.

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Out-of-the-house: I had a couple of (laughable) interviews, got my first rejection letter for writing, and Neil went on a handful of bike rides.

Paige’s First: solid food! six months old! we survived! She pet the cat. He’s (even more) afraid of her.

 

May

May brought my first mothers day. Neil sent me to the spa and bought me a necklace that I cherish.

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We got Paige’s band, and got it wrapped almost immediately. Our little squishy became a temporary aviator.

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We planned on having a Memorial Day BBQ, and the day before, Neil broke his collar bone. We rallied, and still pulled off a great afternoon full of friends, family, and food. He had a rough few months (and to be honest, so did I without the extra arm) but we got through it all.

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Out-of-the-house: Neil’s last mountain bike ride for a good long while.

Paige’s First: helmet accessory. It goes with everything. Meeting her aunt and uncle Ontiveros!

 

June

I started “dieting.” I put that in quotes because all it really means is that I’m eating less ice cream and moving more. (I’ve lost 10 lbs.)

Our first trip to the cabin! We went to big bear with some friends and Paige got to try frozen yogurt. She did great with the car ride and the cabin, she seems to be a bit of a rock-star with traveling, which works for us.

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We bought a new-to-us dining table that really makes our house sing. It feels like home.

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For Neil’s first Father’s day I got him a really fancy, engraved cutting board. It reads “Dad’s Kitchen” and he loves it.

Out-of-the-house: I had another interview, they dropped me like a rock when they found out I was a mom. Welcome to real life.

Paige’s First: Sitting up unassisted. Cabin trip! Frozen Yogurt! Also- we found out eggs are bad. very bad.

 

July

In July Paige got her helmet off!  She was a trooper through the entire thing, it was definitely harder on us than it was for her. I still am happy about it and think we did the right thing, even if it was for our own anxiety.

Her Aunt and Uncle and cousins came to visit from Michigan!

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Neil went on a work trip to Washington DC, which meant Paige and I were alone for 4 days! I’m happy to say that we survived without eating each other.

Neil and I went to Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages – it was wonderful! We also spent a great afternoon doing an escape room in LA, it was insanely fun. Like, too much fun.

This was a big month for me – the month that things finally started to feel like normal, real life.

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Out-of-the-house: Game night, Phantom, lots of hikes and outdoor life. I got a small piece published on a big blog.

Paige’s First: word! “kitty”

 

August

For my birthday we did a paint and wine night with a few friends – it was so much fun! I had no idea that painting was so calming, so zen. Or that could have been the wine. Either way, it was super!

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For Neil’s bday we had a quiet brunch at the Old Place – an old-west style restaurant in the mountains.

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Out-of-the-house: Birthdays, family, general summer chaos.

Paige’s First: standing up (assisted)

 

September

Her cousin Madison turned one! We all had fun at her birthday party.

Paige and I had a quick visit to the Getty to say hello to the team.

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Out-of-the-house: Neil had some night bike rides, we watched the super eclipse.

Paige’s First: clapping!

 

October

October started out with a trip to big bear with a bunch of friends and a big rental cabin. Paige decided that it was a great time to get her first tooth, and screamed bloody murder from 10pm-4am. We felt terrible, trapped with a houseful of (not) sleeping people, but alas, that is being a parent sometimes. We took her to town in the middle of the night and watched all the drunk people stumble by and comment on how there’s a baby on my chest and did I know?

We also took a trip to the Big Bear Zoo and she loved it!

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awesome forced perspective.

Later in October we celebrated a couple more birthdays for babies born around her time, and went to the Pumpkin Festival in Calabasas where she got the movie star treatment.

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We ended the month with highs and lows. My papa passed away and Paige attended her first memorial. He would have loved that she was there. Soon after, we celebrated her first birthday, and I think it was extra joyful.

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Out-of-the-house: Big Bear! Neil went on an overnight mountain biking trip and didn’t break anything.

Paige’s First: tooth. BIRTHDAY!!! SHE IS ONE!! YEAY! =)

 

November

We got Santa photos out of the way nearly as soon as he sat down in his mall chair on November 1. I think this is really the way to go, there was no line, Santa was in a good mood, and it generally was a great experience.

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Mid-November Neil and I went down to Long Beach to see Neil Gaiman give a talk, and we left Paige overnight! She did great with grandma and grandpa, and we had a wonderful time at the Queen Mary and the aquarium. Also, beer. Lots of beer.

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November ended with the Perkin family Thanksgiving, which was as chaotic as usual. It always seems like this time of year goes in super-speed.

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Out-of-the-house: biking for Neil, lots of good walks for me and Paige.

Paige’s First: steps! Two steps!

 

December

Neil headed back down to the Long Beach aquarium for his comany’s christmas party while Paige and I partied with Love Actually. Win Win.

We attended the Whizin Center Art and Holiday Fair, which was fantastic! This will need to be a yearly tradition for sure.

Perkin family Christmas was wonderful, and both Paige and her cousin were sufficiently spoiled rotten by their grandparents.

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On Christmas Eve we drove down to Hollywood to bake cookies with some friends, and it was a lovely day.

And finally on New Year’s eve, we visited friends and had a very mellow afternoon and evening that saw us home just in time for midnight. It has been a hell of a year, and a very different type of year for us. But I think we truly have made the most of it, and learned so much along the way.

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Out-of-the-house: Neil and I got on another great bike ride, thanks to grandma and grandpa.

Paige’s First: She gave me a huge hug and kissed me. She melts me. She is on the verge of lots of words. Especially likes trying to say “shoe.”

***

Here’s the thing. Thinking about 2015 is like trying to see through a dirty window to what’s left on the inside. It’s blurry. I’ve cobbled together as much as I can here, but I’m positive that I’m missing so very much. Time is flying by as we are watching our daughter turn into a curious, funny toddler with serious opinions of her own. It’s been a hard year in many ways. It’s also been a wonderful, defining, learning year. I think I can safely say that we are looking forward to so many more to come.

Happy New Year. Here’s to 2016, and a lifetime to come.

 

2014.

For 2012 I opened this blog by admitting I was watching a marathon of Doctor Who. This year it’s Gilmore Girls. Which is quite fitting, given the way life has changed.

2014. The year of (life) change.

In January we looked up the anniversary gift for 4 years and realized it was “appliances.” Knowing that he’d sleep on the couch for a week if he brought me home a toaster, (though I do have a strange affinity for the latest and greatest in vacuum cleaners) Neil brought up the idea of being a bit flexible on the gifts this year.

So, we bought a hot tub. That counts as an appliance, right?

Hot Tub and wine. An incredible combination, one of the first and last times.

Hot Tub and wine. An incredible combination, one of the first and last times. It’s entirely possible I’m just barely pregnant in this photo and don’t even know it.

Most of February stayed quiet. After a miscarriage in December, we were on a break from ‘trying,’ but apparently fate had other plans. The morning of February 27, our 4 year anniversary, I found out I was pregnant. I had been slightly suspicious, (suddenly crossfit was HARD…more than normal…) but it still came as a bit of an exciting shock.

March and April were spent in a haze of sleepy nausea. I had the good fortune to never actually get sick, but the bad fortune of feeling horribly sick 24 hours a day, with no relief. I remember laying on the floor in a ball, praying I could puke and feel better just for 10 minutes. The grass is always greener, right? Also, Neil did lots of canyons, hikes, bike rides, and other fun things that I did my best to ignore. Pregnancy was a big transition for me in the “outdoor adventures” part of my life.

Fighting the sick and getting some fresh air. I'm about 10 weeks here. It was rough.

Fighting the sick and getting some fresh air. I’m about 10 weeks here. I’m smiling, but it was rough.

(Side note – April 1 is a FANTASTIC day to tell your sister you are pregnant. Her response – “yeah, you and everyone else on Facebook.” It took 20 minutes and a party call to my mom to convince her I was telling the truth. By far the best/funniest April Fools day I’ve had in a LONG time.)

Towards the end of April, we found out the gender (girl!) and I managed to eat a waffle.

I actually took a picture of my waffle, I was so excited about being happy to eat a piece food.  Fruit turned into a HUGE craving that lasted through the whole pregnancy.

I actually took a picture of my waffle, I was so excited about being happy to eat a piece food. Fruit turned into a HUGE craving that lasted through the whole pregnancy.

In May, over Memorial Day weekend, we went to the cabin for some quiet time. And she KICKED. Neil happened to have his hand on my belly, and we both felt it. I looked at him and slightly panicked, said “Holy crap, that wasn’t gas.” His response? “If that was gas I’d be taking you to the hospital!”

Lounging at the cabin. Those are Neil's pajama pants because the ones I brought with me weren't ever going to fit.

Lounging at the cabin. Those are Neil’s pajama pants because the ones I brought with me weren’t ever going to fit.

This is about the time I started cutting weight drastically at crossfit, but I am happy to say that I continued working out until September. I am currently planning my return date.

Strong mama, strong baby.

Strong mama, strong baby.

I can’t remember what I did in June, which is more or less a theme to life these days. Neil went on more canyons and bike rides and again, all that fun stuff. We had the anatomy scan, which showed that she was (still) a girl, and growing perfectly.

This is apparently my June of 2014. Flowers and a potato chip chocolate bar from Neil. =)

This is apparently my June of 2014. Flowers and a potato chip chocolate bar from Neil. =)

Just kidding! The end of June I bought a car. My mini went maxi! I forgot. See? It's a sickness.

Just kidding! The end of June I bought a car. My mini went maxi! I forgot. See? It’s a sickness.

By July I was well into the sweet spot of the second trimester and hadn’t yet gotten big enough to feel awful, so we actually got out a few times. On the fourth we went to a friend’s BBQ party. On the fifth we went to Medieval Times for a friend’s birthday (our knight won!) and I only had to get up to pee twice, which I was extremely proud of. The next weekend we went camping to break in our new family tent. It was great until the air mattress sprung a leak (no fat jokes about the pregnant girl, please) and we came home a day early. Still, a good experience overall.

Rockin' the 6 month belly.

Rockin’ the 6 month belly.

The rest of the month wrapped up with another party for a friend’s 30th, and a trip to see Once at the Pantages, which was great.

As always, August was a bit of a crazy blur. A baby shower for my brother and his wife, a glucose test or two (yep, I failed the first one), my 30th birthday, Neil’s birthday, AND our baby shower. I’m exhausted just remembering it. (Oh, and we had fake grass installed in the backyard. Grown-up stuff is boring/exciting.)

The worst drink in the world and my last lift of 2014.

The worst drink in the world and my last lift of 2014.

Neil put together an incredible surprise for my 30th. These incredible people showed up in big bear to hike the PCT with my nearly 7 month pregnant butt. I will never forget this day.

Neil put together an incredible surprise for my 30th. These incredible people showed up in big bear to hike the PCT with my nearly 7 month pregnant butt. I will never forget this day.

Our baby shower, thrown by my sister and a wonderful, bright afternoon.

Our baby shower, thrown by my sister and a wonderful, bright afternoon.

In September the only thing that really matters is that my niece was born. She is perfect.

And October? Too many words.

Last day of work!

Last day of work!

One last visit to the cabin at 36 weeks.

One last visit to the cabin at 36 weeks.

And then, of course, the main event.

And then, of course, the main event.

November and December came and went in a flash. I could tell you about Thanksgiving and Christmas and how exciting it was to see the little cousins together, but I honestly cannot remember much. It’s been a crazy blur, full of tears and laughs and chaos in every form. But it’s been a wonderful year.

Thanksgiving 2014.

Thanksgiving 2014.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays, and to all a good night.

2013.

There was a brief moment, as we were counting down the last seconds of 2013, where I truly wished that I could stop time forever. A gasp, a sad tightness of the chest to say goodbye to the year.

Because guys? 2013 was amazing. I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes on these yearly recaps, because life has been so incredible these past years. I guess that means I must be doing something right. =)

January and February were quiet. I started going to a spin studio (indoor stationary bikes) on a semi-regular basis, and at the very same time I got the flu 3 times in 6 weeks. As soon as I stopped going to that particular gym, I stopped getting sick. Coincidence or not, I won’t be going back.

The close of February brought our 3 year anniversary. We had both been sick and were generally tired, so we decided to go to Big Bear and have a nice, quiet weekend of relaxation in the woods. In true anniversary tradition however, that is not even close to what happened. Soon after arriving at the cabin, we realized there was a major plumbing leak under the house. We turned off the water and tracked down the spare parts and “camped indoors” for the night. Upon fixing this leak the next day, the entire backside of the cabin exploded in water. The top of the toilet tank looked like Niagra Falls. I was cranky and tired, and didn’t want to deal with it. So we turned everything off, locked everything up, still broken,  and went and got a couples massage before driving home.

The cabin being old and crotchety. Happy Anniversary!

The cabin being old and crotchety. Happy Anniversary!

In March we hiked Rubio Canyon, and it was a serious wake up call for me. At the heaviest I’ve been in years, I had a horrible time hiking up and it was strikingly clear that I was in terrible shape. I had a great time nonetheless, but it got me really thinking about life, and how to properly enjoy it.

Gearing up before the hike.

Gearing up before the hike.

Talehaha Fall in Rubio Canyon, March 2013

Talehaha Fall in Rubio Canyon, March 2013

April is when things started getting a little crazy. Between April and July, we visited Lake Arrowhead, Catalina, Scotland, Tulsa, and Zion.

Lake Arrowhead was for a very special weekend – my older brother got hitched!

Officially Married!

Officially Married!

They are an incredible couple, and I am so happy for them – they will absolutely have a beautiful, fun, and loving life together.

About a week later, I took my first freebie Crossfit class. I wavered hugely for a few weeks, and finally signed up permanently in May. It’s been a fantastic new part of life, challenging me in all the right ways. (Since I’ve started, I’ve now been to 70 classes!)

May started out with a bang and a very long story, involving Lucy and I calling Catalina Island Search and Rescue on our husbands. The short version is that both weather and technology are unpredictable, and to always be prepared. Everyone was fine, and it’s now an interesting thing to look back on and grumble/laugh about.

Catalina Island Canyoneering gone...long. This is a happy pic.

Catalina Island Canyoneering gone…long. This is a happy pic.

The latter half of the month was spent in… you guessed it! SCOTLAND! It was an incredible, amazing, wonderous, glittery trip full of dirt and mud, rain and scotch. One day I might even finish all my planned posts recapping every day. For now I’ll just say that mountain biking is officially a love of my life, and it is in part due to this trip.

The very best way to see such a beautiful country.

The very best way to see such a beautiful country.

Arriving home from Scotland left us just enough time to do some laundry and head back to the airport to go to Tulsa in June. My very old friend, bridesmaid in my wedding, and all around great girl had a baby in December of 2012, and this was our first trip out to meet the new addition to the family. He’s incredible. We spent the weekend with them, talking and relaxing, and exclaiming how cute their child really is. There are some people in the world who you really wished lived closer, and they are definitely on our short list.

Finally, June ended with a trip to Zion to do Subway. A fantastic canyon with an equally wonderful group of people. It was a great way to enter into summer.

The Subway, June 2013.

The Subway, June 2013.

July found us picnicking on Lake Castaic for Ben’s Birthday, and generally recovering from months worth of travel, packing, and the endless laundry that comes along with that.

August was more mountain biking, this time in Big Bear. Neil and I drove up for a short weekend to try out the new ski lifts for bikes, and it was a great time. A few days later my family came into town, and we had the BBQ to end all birthday BBQs. Celebrating half a dozen August birthdays (including mine) with my closest friends and family on a long summer day? Perfect.

29th Birthday Wod.

29th Birthday Wod.

In September we found out it’s not a great idea to go camping at the start of deer season. It was worth it though.

Good morning, gorgeous.

Good morning, gorgeous.

October was spending the day at the Manhattan Beach Fair for Lucy’s birthday, and having a Redbull Rampage viewing party at our place. This is the time of year things always being to wind down for us, bringing in the holidays with some extra time to relax, shop, or generally get organized.

November and December seem like a blur, with huge and little things all rolled up into a glorious mess. The family came in from Michigan and we had a wonderful so-cal turkey day. We went on tons of bike rides, took a 2 year old canyoneering, and even made our own triathlon where we hiked, biked, and caved in one day. Generally, we caused as much trouble as we could through the month.

First Rappel!

First Rappel!

Bony Mountain Caves

Boney Mountain Caves

For Christmas, Neil and I drove up north for more family. To make a true vacation out of it, we also went to Calistoga, back to the same bed and breakfast from 2011, and it was every bit as wonderful as we remembered. We biked, wine tasted (yes, at the same time) and finally headed to Palm Springs to bring in the New Year with desert style.

Biking and Wine tasting in Calistoga, December 2013.

Biking and Wine tasting in Calistoga, December 2013.

Biking and Wine tasting in Calistoga, December 2013.

Biking and Wine tasting in Calistoga, December 2013.

Once again, the year has exceeded my expectations in every way. I am so incredibly lucky to have the life, family, and friends that I do – and I appreciate it every day. As the years pass and I get older, I am more and more convinced that this is truly what life is all about – people, and relationships, and love. This is what makes the world go ’round.

And I’m so excited to see what new love 2014 will bring.

2012.

Having a Doctor Who marathon on the second of January 2013. It seems fitting to look back at 2012 and see where we’ve come in these last 12 months. In so many ways, I feel like so many things have changed. And again, not anything at all.

January found us blissfully living in our little condo, unaware of the real estate havoc that was about to engulf our lives. We went to see Cirque de Soleil’s OVO for my mom’s birthday, and “partied” with a friend who happened to own the entire series of Big Bang Theory (oh yeah people, we party hard.)

February held hiking, biking, and the bank appraisal that sent us reeling. Our condo was officially so far underwater that we could tell you stories about Atlantis. This is when we kicked our butt into high gear and took life by the horns. The rest of the month was spent house hunting and generally trying not to stress too much. We went to the Ritz Carlton in Huntington Beach for our 2 year anniversary and watched it pour buckets in the sunniest city in SoCal. It was incredibly fitting. We also stopped to play with some dolphins, and they put on a fantastic show.

Rubio Canyon in February

2 years

Dolphins on our Anniversary!

On March 12, 2012, we accepted the counter offer on our house. The rest of the month was full of paperwork, inspections, and organizing our lives.

On April 1 we helped our best friends move into THEIR new house and by April 27 we moved into ours. In-between, we celebrated my parents’ 30th anniversary, my uncle came down to LA and performed with a blues band, and spent a lot of time with friends and family.

May was relatively quiet, spent unpacking, fixing things (and when I say that I mean fixing the cripple walls and the surprise exploded sewer) and celebrating E’s bday.

June left me alone for a weekend while N went to Zion – things were a little layoff-y at work and I couldn’t get any time off. Luckily I made it through the cuts and was able to keep my job.  We hiked, biked, and celebrated the first birthday of our newest family member, baby M!

July was Zion trip #2, and thankfully I was able to make it to this one. I brought along an old coworker who absolutely loved it. It was a glorious adventure, and I love that I was able to share my passion with someone who is so open and kind. Later in the month we went to a trampoline park for B’s birthday, and that was nauseating but certainly an experience. We also took a quick trip to see the family up north, it’s scary how quickly children grow.

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August, as always, was the month of birthdays. I wanted something low key this year and N organized a surprise pancake breakfast complete with a brand new outdoor dining table. Unfortunately it was 110 degrees so we didn’t use it. Next time. We went to my high school reunion, which was surprisingly fun, if awkward as expected. We fixed more house problems (mold this time), celebrated BBQ style for my Dad’s bday, and went to Lake Isabella for N’s birthday of canyoneering and mountain biking.

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All the August Birthdays!

September passed without too much trouble, recovering from the busy summer and stresses of new home ownership.

For L’s birthday in October we went to Greystone Manor and spent the day wandering around the beautiful property. I had no idea it was there! We got in one last camping trip at Mt. Pinos, and despite there being a bit of snow on the ground, ended up having a wonderful time. I think that will forever be one of my favorite mountain biking trails.

L’s Birthday

Frazier Park / Mt Pinos Camping and Biking

November we went to the cabin and were pleasantly accompanied by baby M! It’s crazy to see her at the cabin, since I have so many childhood memories up there as well. When did we all grow up? We had a crazy-per-usual Thanksgiving with my family, and were able to officially sell the condo. A huge relief. We took the extra property tax money that we had been saving for that place and bought a new couch with it for the house. A last parting gift from our old home.

Baby M at the Cabin!

New couch for the new house.

December proved to come quickly and fly by. We did some canyoneering at Fall Creek, attended our respective company holiday parties, and generally tried to stay calm for the holidays. We drove to Tracy for Christmas where there was children induced chaos, drove to Vegas for the break and crawled through a CAVE (yes, my new excitement) and then spent new years with friends in their warm and happy home.

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Fall Creek

NorCal Christmas 2012

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CAVE!

New Years 2012-2013!!

New Years 2012-2013!!

It’s been a heck of a year, and all I can say is that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because the people I am lucky enough to spend my life with are the most incredible, loving people any girl could ask for. Here’s hoping 2013 will be more of the same.

2011.

Apologies for the crazy long post after writing nothing at all for-ev-er. I guess I’m making up for lost time. Feel free to just browse for the photos. =)

We can buy the expensive milk. I keep using this as my leaping off point because it seems like such a silly little thing. But it’s not. It means worlds and words and so many blessings. In a time of such turmoil for so many people, 2011 has been a wonderful year. It makes me feel guilty, as we watched our neighbor of 3.5 years, our friend and confidant, hold her head high and tell us that yes, she has to return our emergency house key because she is being foreclosed on – and won’t be here through the month. What can anyone say to that? Nothing. Only appreciate – so very much – what we have. We buy the expensive milk. That’s huge.

December alone has been a year of memories in itself, and every month preceding has only tried to outdo the one that came before. If there’s one thing we know how to do, we know how to live. and 2011 has been a year of living.

The first weeks of January are always recovery. Some dieting, lots of extra exercise, but still managing to find time to finish off the last of the pumpkin pie. The first started out with a bang – celebrating the new year in Big Bear with people who have turned into our very nearest and dearest. This year was extra special because not all of us were drinking – our group of friends has moved into the next stage of life – making new life. (And now I have the cutest niece in the world, but we’ll get to that later.) We bought a new car in mid January, a big SUV that we then had to convince everyone that no, it did NOT come with a baby seat. We bought it for memories to come, for accessibility and ease of use, and so we can go places that we couldn’t go before. (And in that sense, in memories, it’s paid for itself tenfold.) The end of January is always celebration for the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met – my mom. This year was extra special, her 60th birthday. My dad is a planner extraordinaire, and managed to get almost all the family together in San Francisco for a surprise trip. I’ll never forget walking into that Starbucks in Fisherman’s Wharf and seeing her face. A dozen of her loved ones, appearing out of thin air. It was fabulous.

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February is a month for love. We managed to make it up to big bear a second time this month, none of us were ok with letting all that good snow go to waste. Especially the boys, who built an igloo (I’ll say that again for impact – built. an. IGLOO.) and then tried to sleep inside. I finally pulled N out around 3am, unreasonably terrified he was going to freeze to death. Valentines day was much warmer, and, ignoring our multi year tradition of a rental movie and take out thai food, we went to the Inn of the Seventh Ray, for their special Valentines dinner. It was a wonderful night, but the real celebration was still to come. The end of February was spent in Palm Springs, celebrating our 1 year anniversary. We ate incredible food, took the tram up to Mt. San Jacinto and played in the snow, and generally had a lovely time.

In March we saw Avenue Q, which I had seen previously in London, and was absolutely dying for someone else to be in on the hilarity of what the internet is REALLY for. We loved it.

April was mostly quiet, spent with friends and loved ones. A weekend in vegas for a canyoneering trip that didn’t quite happen, a small concert with a new friend, and a much larger concert where I got to relive the glory days of high school and rock out to Slayer. Ironically, I also ran into an old high school friend who tried to take me to a Slayer show way back when, and I never got to go. In a way, we finally got our rock on together. This show was really meant for N though, and he had an amazing time with the Big 4 – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath, and Anthrax. An anniversary gift for my love.

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Girls girls girls for May. L and I drove up to San Francisco for another friend’s bacherlorette party, which turned out to be one of the most comedy of errors type weekend I’ve ever had. Between dirty cab drivers, getting locked IN the house, and partying it up the Castro district, it was something I really can’t talk much about except to say it was memorable. E’s birthday was the following weekend, in which we did a day full of baby friendly non toxic manicures, hair straightening, and super yummy peruvian food. After that? Her baby shower. Another day full of such love and high emotions – I am constantly reminded how very lucky I am to have these ladies in my life. I am so blessed. May ended with N and I gutting and rebuilding our bathroom, with the huge help (read as: they mostly did it) of my parents, who also installed the amazing beautiful headboard that my father built for us. Complete with mood lighting.

That brings us to June. Keep your belts on folks, this is where things start getting exciting. Zion 2011 happened in early June. Pine Creek, Water Canyon, and Keyhole were all on the list, and were all sorts of amazing. I think Water Canyon might be my new favorite – even though it did have a 140 foot drop. That’s a new PR for me. There’s something about being out there, in these places that so few people really get to see – it’s pure magic. The adrenaline helps with that magical feeling too, I’m sure. We even got lost and ended up in one of the last polygamist towns in Utah – a whole different kind of magic there. Children of the corn, anyone? And speaking of children… my childhood friend, my brother, my lego playing pal got married in June. His wedding was intimate and beautiful, and I hope the best for him and his new family. His wife was pregnant, but not as pregnant as E, who had her baby in June as well. Who truly is a little bit of perfection. (She’s 6 months now, and just as breathtakingly amazing as she was on day 1.)

July 4 was spent in Hawthorne, where fireworks are legal and drinking encouraged. We had fun setting off a few sparklers and hoping no cars exploded. I took that week off work since it was a 3 day week and one of the perks of my job is that I get tons of vacation. We spent the latter half of the week in Big Bear, N “worked from home” and I relaxed in the mountains. The next weekend we went back to Vegas, this time for B’s birthday. The boys got to drive exotic cars around a race track, something that they were extremely excited about, and L gets wife of the year award for putting together. July also included sailing lessons, family breakfasts, and girls nights galore.

August is the month of birthdays. Mine, N’s my dad’s, my brother in law, my niece, it goes on and on. There were two in particular this year that were big though. My dad turned 70, and N turned 30. But first was a bridal shower for the Castro district cant-mention-that-weekend friend. And then was my birthday. Which started out with me knowing absolutely nothing, and then realizing that V was IN THE HOUSE at 8am, and the first thing out of my mouth was obviously, “OH MY GOD I’M SO SORRY I PEED WITH THE DOOR OPEN!” (We’re true sisters now.) N had arranged a surprise gathering with fresh breakfast and then a trip to the desert for horseback riding – where L and B showed up from behind some cacti as well! I got to really open up my pony and ride too – galloping through the tumbleweeds. It was fantastic and I couldn’t walk for 3 days. The mark of a good birthday. As soon as I could walk though, we went on a… big…. walk. With packs. and Tents. and Canyoneering Gear. and I cried. Ok, so backpacking possibly isn’t for me. We backpacked/canyoneered Lytle Creek the next weekend and it was an experience. I’m glossing over this on purpose. The next weekend was the big one. Dad’s birthday. So naturally, I used it as an excuse to disguise N’s surprise birthday trip. (Dad was proud.) We met L and B at the ferry to Catalina and N’s face lit up. Little did he know, he still knew nothing. We went to Two Harbors, rented kayaks, and kayaked to our camp ground. All of this being a surprise, N was on cloud nine. Someone even spelled out “Happy Birthday” in the rocks in our campground, but I still don’t know where it came from. Little things. We then kayaked back, took a bus to Avalon, and went to dinner… where N’s family and a few more friends (some from as far as Oklahoma) were waiting to surprise. It was perfect, and only got better when I pulled out two birthday cards – one for N and one for dad – both of which had been so soaked to the bone that they nearly fell apart in the receivers’ hands. A wonderful night, and a wonderful weekend. He even just mentioned this to me, saying it was the most memorable birthday ever. I’m glad, since that was the idea all along. The next week he bought himself a new bike, and we had more family gatherings at my parents’ house with my sister and her kids from Michigan. We went to a baby shower for the lego childhood friend, and spent time with loved ones. August is always an insane month, and this year was no exception.

September started out camping near Camp Nelson. N went up a few days early after quitting his job, and forgot the tent. I laughed rather hard at this. V and I drove up closer to the weekend to join, and so did his dad and his other sister and her family. (I brought the tent.) It was a wonderful family camping weekend. We came back and N started his new job just after Labor Day — which he is still very happy working. The end of September we celebrated the marriage of Castro district friend, and brought fall into season with more boughts of love.

October was L’s birthday, and we did a crazy scavenger hunt thing in the bowels of Los Angeles. It was a lot more fun than I thought it’d be. We went back to the cabin, went bike riding on Pine Knot trail, and celebrated Halloween in style at a friend’s party and Knotts Scary Farm. September and October are the nice lull between the storms and a good time to catch up and breathe.

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November was Supercloud canyon, my first snowy canyon. It was fantastic, despite the fresh bear tracks. Luckily he was headed up the mountain, while we were headed down. Thanksgiving with my family always proves to be entertaining, and this year my favorite moment came from my papa. Who looked me directly in the eye, took me by the shoulder, and said, “Do you remember that promise you made me about no babies before a ring?” I said yes. He said very seriously “It’s expired.” I laughed, and he said “Why are you laughing? I’m serious.” I love him. Luckily there was a baby there to distract, who was almost 3 months old and cute as a button. Lego friend’s baby. Who is pretty much a clone of him. It’s a little crazy looking into her eyes and seeing my childhood friend. More than crazy. Incredible.

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Which brings us all the way around, back to December. December, which was more family weekends, dinners in Irvine with N’s family, more girls nights and present exchanges, holiday parties, and seeing old high school friends as they come through our little airport town. Christmas up north, another new baby. Holding a nearly-2-day-old is an otherworldly experience. N’s family is wonderful, and even though V and I both botched our only baking requirements, we had a wonderful Christmas. N and I took advantage of being up north and drove up to Calistoga, to a wonderful little bed and breakfast that I want to go to every year until I’m old and grey.

I know I keep saying this, but I am so thankful for my friends and family. New and Old. And ones who I might still think of as new but really are now, Old. So incredible. It’s been a wonderful, amazing, exhilarating year. I cannot imagine what next year will bring. But for now, I’m going to look forward to tonight, with my friends, my new niece, and celebration of all of us, all of our memories and experiences and new ones to come, because everything is honestly, perfect. And we can buy the expensive milk.

2010.

It’s the last day of 2010 – and I’m very quickly running out of time to write this post. quite honestly, I’d rather be playing Fable, but I feel it’s my duty to record the holy-incredible year we’ve had. because it really has been – incredible.

January proved to be a test of nerves and strength and patience really is a virtue. We were weeks out from the wedding, anticipation on high. I ordered our toasting flutes and while taking them out of the box to inspect them, immediately chipped one. My “panic for a moment” before giving out to “oh well – they’re still our TOASTING FLUTES – which is exciting – even if one is chipped. and no one will notice anyway.” reaction to this I think was a sign of things to come. Some might think I just didn’t CARE enough and that in a way might be true – but I’ve never been one to fret about the small stuff.

February. Well if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you already know what is put here. February was epic. It was hail and rain and puddles and mud and tears of pure joy. It was a blur that I will never forget. It was dancing in flip flops and family. It was being surrounded by people who love you. How many times in life do you have that? Everyone you love. In one place. It was beauty. And it was the happiest day of our lives.

March we honeymooned. Oh jamaica. It was being hit on by the tour guides and saying “Oh, I’m sorry – I’m MARRIED.” That never gets old. Kayaking in the jungle, riding horses in the carribean sea. Drinking fruity, frosty concoctions on the sand and trying ohsohard not to completely fry myself. I bought an overpriced necklace there that I like to wear from time to time. It’s bright tourquoise and big and chunky. It’s the perfect reminder of our trip – and why we were there. Our own private celebration. We did it. And now we’re going zip lining over the rainforest. Because that’s just how we like to live.

April came and I was still on such a high. So i did what any educated, intelligent person would do in the middle of a recession. I quit my job. Luckily I had another one lined up. Unfortunately for me, that one didn’t work out and I ended up making another intelligent decision and quit that too. This time I had nothing. But i was happier for it. (I have lots of blog entries on this. I’m not telling you all to go quit your jobs. It was right for me and I was responsible about it. Just throwing that out there – don’t come yellin at me.)

That brings us to about June. Summer. What a blur. We camped. We Big Beared. We Zion-ed and we rappelled. We hiked and biked and got dirt in every body part possible. (Don’t go there.) We LIVED. It was wonderous. And i cooked and baked. And learned to make pretzels and pasta and now? I’m obsessed. Much to the dismay of my oh-so-newly-tight jeans. And N – N became a PILOT. If there is any way that every strand of my soul can vibrate at the same time that is how proud I am of him. He had a dream. He achieved it. So amazing. So, so incredible.

And one fateful day in august I went on a job interview with my legs burning from a canyon the day before and climbed OH SO MANY STAIRS MY QUADS CRIED and that proved to be a painful, yet good day.

Because as of September I can say I’m a privledged employee of a massive, globally recognized museum. It’s a humbling experience and even if it only lasts a little while I’ll be the better for it.

October came with fantastic news from friends. And scary stories and wookies in the woods. And it was about here that I started realizing how awesome it is to have the friends I do. And I’m so excited to spend the new year with them. And continue on this incredible path of life that I seem to be traveling down. To say things have fallen into place would be an understatement.

Blurry, but a keeper.

I feel after this year, that I truly am, the luckiest girl in the world.