Jul 30, 2013

A Day Out with Thomas the Train

Technically, Thomas only pulled us for the second half of the journey
On Saturday, we got up early and made the 3-hour drive to Felton, CA in Santa Cruz county to go to Roaring Camp Railroads. Why make such a trek to ride a train when we have perfectly good ones here in Sacramento? Because this train was going to be pulled by none other than Thomas the Train! London's friend, Evan's mom had suggested the outing and we booked our tickets a few months back. We were able to pick which time and car we wanted to be in via the online service. 

Evan & London - so happy to see each other
London in the parking lot pulling the imaginary train whistle - Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

At the time we started discussing the trip I had started to record the show for London but she wasn't a huge fan (Sydney loved the theme song) so I stopped recording it. But when we told London on Friday night that we were going to ride Thomas the Train the next day she got real excited. And when we arrived at Roaring Camp, every train she saw she called Thomas! We quickly worked on correcting her that only the blue engine was Thomas, and while she didn't get a huge kick of seeing the actual engine, she did love the "tattoo" she got of Thomas. Evan got a Percy tattoo and London knew enough by then that she had Thomas and Evan had Percy.

Some white powder was added to look like steam. It lasted all of 5 minutes!

The temporary tattoo is still somewhat present. It's coming off in bits and pieces.
The event was ok. They had activities like bubbles and bounce houses set up, along with an area to play with wooden train tracks and toy trains. And it was nice that the Bouce houses were set up by age. The only problem was, London was the target demographic for the event so the line for her bounce house was a bit too long. They also had a few areas set up for viewing episodes of the show and people singing kid songs or Sir Toppem Hatt speaking at various times throughout the day. And of course, there was the temporary tattoo tent. 

Sydney all bundled up. It was a bit chilly compared to home.

We arrived about an 1 1/2 before our train was to depart and really just let London and Evan run around until it was time to line up and wait to board. Any thing to get excess energy out of kids before making them sit for even a 1/2 hour is a must. 

The kids had a fantastic time riding the train, even Sydney. We even tried to get some good pics with Sir Toppem Hat:

Notice London picking Sydney's nose?!

I can't really say we would do this again unless London really got into Thomas the Train and we were able to make it a full weekend away. The reason was didn't was mainly because Gibson can't be boarded yet.

Plus, we have plenty of good train rides right here in Sacramento. But, since both girls did thoroughly enjoyed the train ride, we are looking into a membership with the California Railroad Museum so we can go for rides whenever we want much closer to home and we're looking into getting tickets to the special Polar Express train ride in December. The membership would allow us to purchase tickets in advance of the general ticket sales opening, and I have heard each event ride sells out every year. Getting advanced opportunity to purchase would give us a better chance of being able to go on the day and time we really want. Plus, the view in Sacramento includes the Sac River over forest and a river way down below the train.

We also weren't too impressed with the amenities at Roaring Camp. For one, to use a credit card, they pulled out the old machines that you place a piece of carbon paper over the card and swipe it back and forth. I don't think I have seen one of these since the early 90s! And most bathrooms were port-a-potties with no changing tables. There was one physical bathroom location but Cameron said the men's room had only 2 stalls in it so my guess is the women's was the same with a changing table in there. I never tried to go in there though. The line for the women's room was always 10-12 women deep and moved like molasses. Cameron went into the men's room once, and only to take London when she really needed to go. She wouldn't go for me in the port-a-pottie and we did have her in a pull up but she insisted on using a rest room (which we are very proud of). Cameron wasn't the only dad doing this for his daughter either! When he exited with London, there was another dad waiting with his daughter. This set up just doesn't bode well for a children's event. Kids don't like porta potties - they are scared of falling in and they smell bad! I think most adults prefer a real toilet too.

Jul 17, 2013

London: 3-Year-Old Stats & Disney Milestones

 And now here are London's stats from her 3-year check up: 

Height: 39 inches (85th percentile)
Weight:31.4 lbs (75th percentile)

London is one inch away from a Disney milestone as we put it - one more inch and she will be 40 inches. Cameron and I talked about, after we took London to Disneyland for the first time at 18 months and 35 inches tall, that we would go back when London & now Sydney reached new ride height milestones, so as to make each visit fun with new attractions to experience. 

We've lightly talked about going in the spring of 2014 when London is nearing 4 and Sydney is around the same age as London was when we first took her. If London is 40 inches by then, which we fully expect her to be (the girl is a growing machine), she will have the option of riding the following: 

  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Jumpin' Jellyfish
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Soarin' over California
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
This would actually be the next height milestone for London, minus one ride that could have been added at 36 inches. It's kind of hard to believe London will be tall enough for some of the rides named above, but it makes me excited for our next Disneyland visit. We'll see what we can actually get her on at that time, though too. Still not sure about the Tower of Terror! I am excited to take her on Big Thunder Mountain, as it is currently being spruced up and I know she will love Radiator Springs Racers since she is such a huge Cars fan. And I think she would get a kick out of Splash Mountain - not so sure about Space Mountain.

This picture takes me back...where did this little toddler go?!
When we took London at 18 months and 35 inches she could do the following: 

  • Enchanted Tiki Room*
  • Jungle Cruise*
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh*
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant*
  • It's a Small World*
  • King Arthur Carrousel*
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride*
  • Peter Pan's Flight*
  • Pinocchio's Daring Journey*
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures*
  • Story Book Land Canals*
  • Disneyland Railroad*
  • Gadget's Go Coaster
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin*
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Astro Orbitor
  • Autopia*
  • Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters*
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage*
California Adventure: 
  • Flik's Flyers
  • Francis's Ladybug Boogie*
  • Hemlich's Chew Chew Train*
  • Monster's Inc*
  • Golden Zephyr
  • King Triton's Carrousel
  • The Little Mermaid*
  • Mickey's Fun Wheel
  • Toy Story Mania*
* Rides we actually went on - Pirates was closed at the time :(


The only other future Disney milestones London has to look forward to after 40 inches are: 42", 46" & 48".

Jul 16, 2013

Sydney: 8 & 9 Months Old

I'm a little late on posting Sydney's 8 month stats from the doctor, so I'm combining that post with her 9 month post - given she will be 9 months next week! Hard to believe. She is growing up so fast! Before we know it, she will be a year - at least we are on the ball and have begun the beginning stages of planning. 

Sydney and London had a joint check-up with the doctor at the end of June, so here are Sydney's current stats: 

Height: 28 inches (75-80 percentile)
Weight: 19 1/4 lbs (75 percentile)
Head Circumference: 16 3/4" (25 percentile)

At the time of this appointment, Sydney still wasn't crawling or eating solid foods. She was army crawling/pulling herself around and she could get herself around pretty well - well enough to get to the toys bins in the family room and empty the two bottom rows! 

Then on the evening of July 3 Sydney took her first few crawling steps! She had decided she needed extra mommy and daddy time that evening so she had woken up after London was put to bed. It was great as Cameron and I both got to witness the moment together and we cheered her on. Of course, as soon as we cheered her, she sat up and clapped. She loves, and I mean Loves to clap. 

By the end of July 4, she was a pro at crawling and had even made it down the hallway before we could stop her during a conversation. To say baby gates are back in full effect is an understatement. It doesn't help that Sydney is pretty quite - as my dad says, she will be able to get into trouble quickly and easily without us knowing she's so quiet. London was definitely not like this. So far though, with her new found freedom, Sydney uses it to get into the toys more quickly or to crawl into the kitchen to be with us or watch the dogs play outside. 

And her teachers at daycare were so excited to see the crawling on July 5th. Now she's cruising the play room there with ease!

And since then we have worked hard (her teachers, that is) in getting Sydney to transition to solid foods. So far, we have discovered that she doesn't care for the rice cereal so we now give her foods straight. She likes green beans, bananas, apples and squash but has turned her nose up to sweet potatoes every time - so her daddy's daughter. We need to make a run to the store soon to get more of the liked foods and get some new ones to try!

Sydney's just about outgrown the 9-12 month clothing. I need to find some time this week to go through her current clothes and get the bin with 12-18 month clothing out and ready for her. 

No teeth yet. She's always been a big drooler and she has had random mild fevers for the past several months so I have no clue when one might come in. Maybe by 10 months we'll see one. I fear the stories I have heard of kids not getting any until they are 1 year old and then all over them coming in at rapid fire. That just sounds like a case of constantly cranky baby. 

We can't complain too much though. Sydney is such a happy, mild tempered baby. The teachers at her school all love her and her big smiles. She only gets upset when she is hungry or tired. They've had so much worse and current have a few on their hands right now that Sydney is a breath of fresh air in a way. When she was out with her diaper rash, they missed her dearly - every one would come running when we would bring her in to visit when we would be picking up London.

Jul 10, 2013

Cooking with London: S'mores Cookies

Nothing says summer to me like S'mores. I'd even bought the makings for the original delight when we were in Fort Bragg to make Saturday night before we headed home early. With S'mores on the mind I knew I wanted to make some form of the dessert for our 4th of July party. I'd tried this recipe from Martha Stewart when it originally came out in the Every Day Food magazine years ago but hadn't been a huge fan - I didn't like the actual cookie part. I'd always intended to make them again, but using Nestle's Chocolate Chip cookie dough recipe, minus the chocolate chips, at the base instead. 

Always read the directions first and gather all ingredients
Mixing all dry ingredients together first

Well, with my desire to make a s'mores dessert for the party and my desire to start involving London in the kitchen more, I combined the two just before nap time on the 4th of July. 

Mixing sugars and butter
Cracking Eggs
London had a blast. While I gathered ingredients and did all the measuring, she did the pouring and hand mixing. When it came to the machine hand mixer, I let London control the speed and feel like she was holding it (I supported it from the back base) and I turned the bowl as necessary to mix everything together. London then put all the chocolate bars and marshmallows on top at the appropriate times. 

Time to add Chocolate! It was hard to keep her from eating it!
London had a blast making the cookies and could hardly wait to have one at the party that night. And the cookies sure didn't last - every one loved them! I love it when my recipe changes and experiments work out!
London could hardly wait for the cookies to bake to add the marshmallows
Watching the marshmallows melt

Here is the combined recipes with my notes: 

London’s S’mores (Cookies that is)


2 ¼ cups All –purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1 Bag Hershey’s Assorted Miniatures – Use only the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Minis – enjoy the rest outside of these cookies

12-15 Large Marshmallows

Step 1: Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Step 2: Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until creamy.

Step 3: Add eggs into butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well until fully blended

Step 4: Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Step 5: Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Step 6: Drop dough, about a tablespoon size each, 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Place on top of each dough drop 1 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Mini.

Step 7: Bake 8-10 minutes (9 minutes was perfect for our over) or until Golden Brown. Note: I prefer soft cookies, so I remove when the center dough is still somewhat gooey and let sit on tray outside oven for 2 minutes. This is perfect when considering the next step

Step 8: Remove cookies and then start broiler. Top each cookie with a marshmallow.

Step 9: Broil cookies with marshmallows on top for 1 to 1 ½ minutes (we went with 1 1/2), or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

This recipe is adapted from both Nestle Toll House’s Original Chocolate Chip cookies and Martha Stewart’s Recipe for S’mores Cookies. 

Linked up to Just Us Four,
& Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom,
& Not JUST a Housewife

Jul 9, 2013

4th of July

Sydney on her 1st 4th of July - Guess who's crawling!

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. We hosted a BBQ for several families in our neighborhood. For the most part the day leading up to the party was pretty lazy. I did finish a few festive crafts to decorate the house: 

A soup can, branches, paper stars, flags and a star garland acted as the table center piece. It's still there - I think I may leave it through Labor Day. Inspiration for this project came from here. 

I also wanted to adorn our door with a festive wreath and originally wanted to make a wreath like this one.  But I couldn't find the Deco Mesh at Joanns or Michaels - only pre-made wreathes using it. You'd think they would sell all materials used to make pre-made items, but I had no luck located the mesh. So I bought the next best material - Tulle. And after a quick pinterest search, found this inspiration.

Included in the neighbors attending were London's friends Fiona and Camila. All 3 are 3 years old and separated by a month or two. Fiona was born in April, Camila in May and London in June. The 3 of them get along great so its exciting to envision what the future holds for the threesome in terms of friendship. I was able to grab a few cute shots of the three of them as we started fireworks in the front yard. That was until London decided these tame fireworks were too loud and headed back inside. She's suddenly finding things too loud, including toilets. I have to warn her when I am about to flush one!

And since these gals would be in attendance I put together a few goody bags. Gotta love the Dollar Tree, where I picked up some patriotic rubber duckies, Pop its (the little balls you throw at the ground to create a "pop" sound), party poppers (that London insists on having us pop then saying are too loud after the spiraled paper is all over the floor), glow bracelets and some wands that I made, based on inspiration from here. This one is London's: 

I made each handle a different color - one red, one blue and one white. London loves it and has played with it every day since the 4th!

Due to other plans as well as the heat, no one showed up until 7:30 PM for the party. Which was quite fine with us as we just sat and relaxed. Cameron had been up at his mom's earlier in the day pressure washing her house in anticipation of us painting it over the next few days. 

All our party guests were quite pleased to find we had moved the party inside when they did arrive. We were dealing with 103 to 111 degree temps for the last week without cool downs in the evening. Of course the heat spell broke the very next day! Oh well. Fun was had by all and we enjoyed getting to know our neighbors even better over the course of the evening. The fun ended just after 10:30 PM and I think London was sound asleep by 10:35!

Jul 1, 2013

Father's Day Photo Shoot

I've been dying to share these photos from a photo shoot I had done of the girls as a surprise for Father's Day for Cameron. But when I went to upload the photos from the hi-res disk I purchased I discovered the disc wasn't there. Finally made it over to the studio yesterday to get it!

This is our absolute favorite - between Giants Torture and how it captures real life, it's perfect. Cameron is getting a mouse pad on this one!

This dress was worn by my mom, myself and London. We have pictures of London and me in it, and I hope to find one of my mom in it someday.
I consider this London's 3-Year Old Portrait
This is getting framed and put up in my office soon!
Sydney wasn't a fan of the "pop" of the flash and had a melt down. I jumped in to calm her down to get a few more good shots