Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keeping it local

In the past couple of years, I've really grown accustomed to being able to drive less than an hour and be in another country. Our house was 10 minutes to Germany, 1 hour to Belgium, 3 hours to France, 3 hours to Luxembourg... You get the picture.

Our new home however - you can drive for hours and hours and still be in California!!! I'm not complaining about this - there is so much to see and do around here, it really is a great part of the states to be situated in. But sometimes I find it a little overwhelming and with our massive USA travel to do list and Mitch's lack of annual leave, I just don't know where to start. In Holland we used to keep busy with little road trips here and there every weekend (often just popping across to Germany for lunch!). As Oliver gets older and his tolerance for the car grows smaller, I find myself looking for more local things to do on a weekend. Last weekend we did a few things that had been on the list for awhile...

We kicked off the weekend by having brunch with some lovely friends... Brunch? It was more like, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner... All rolled into one. The portion sizes were reasonable, but the thing that blew me away was the SIDES! Yep, along with your breakfast you got to choose 1 or 2 sides depending on what you ordered. And a side was about the size of a main meal in Australia! Only in America huh...


Once we'd eaten a ridiculous amount of food, it was time to walk it off at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. Although the range of animals was a little disappointing, it was still a great place for the kids.

Oliver had a blast patting the goats...



And even got to ride on the carousel!!!


A big day in the sun was a tiring for the little man though...


Nap time anyone???

Friday, September 28, 2012

13...

13 1/2 months old... I thought it was about time for an update on the little man!!!

Oliver is becoming more and more of a toddler and less of a baby. Still no walking but he cruises every piece of furniture in the house, pushing whatever will move and can stand on his own...


Oliver loves to read his books...


Oliver is obsessed with blowing raspberries on anything and everything (and on demand) all day long - on his horse, on my chin, or even on his own finger...


Oliver loves to talk - he chatters and tells stories all day long. He has a handful of words, his latest being 'yum' (usually said while eating banana)...


Oliver has finally hit the clingy stage :-( I knew we had it too good to be true and this day would one day come. He sits between my legs when someone comes round, holds onto my hair for dear life if he suspects I'm going to put him down and has even started crying when he goes to the mothers group & church nursery every week. It breaks my heart, but he's fine as soon as I'm out of sight apparently. I am enjoying the extra cuddles though - my boy is growing up way too quickly...


Oliver is learning to use cutlery - sometimes, he puts a little too much food in his mouth...


Oliver seems to have hit the terrible 13 months - he's a very determined little boy and if his current tantrums are anything to go off, I'm REALLY not looking forward to the terrible twos... Luckily, he's still a real sweetheart underneath it all!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hello, Costco

It may have taken me six months, but I finally did it.

Today I bit the bullet, forked out the membership fee, and became a member of the American supermarket giant, Costco.

And... Boy oh boy, do I feel dirty :-(

It was quite an experience. Huge trolleys (can fit 2 children) with which I struggled to avoid injuring unsuspecting shoppers. Food samples being given out on every other aisle - my polite decline of petite servings of luke warm canned soup was met with surprised looks from the sales assistant. A true warehouse feel - not unlike the Ikea marketplace, only minus the unpronounceable Swedish names and cleanliness. Crowds of people. An Ikea style food court (but minus the Swedish meatballs :-( ). A huge carpark - yet, despite the size, the person next to me decided to park half in my park and left me unable to get in the drivers side door. Security to rival an airport (card checked to get in, receipt checked to GET OUT). Large lines at the checkout (by the time I got to the checkout, I was so frustrated and grumpy I contemplated ditching my trolley full of oversized pepper grinders and cereal and going to cancel my membership). Aisles filled with enormous packs of cereal, bags of flour so big I'd do my back in trying to get it into the car, packs of toothpaste that would last our family for years, and....

A goat. 

A whole entire goat. Well, a refrigerated tub full of goats actually. Thankfully they were tastefully covered by a white shroud, but I still felt a little disturbed. I was kinda tempted to buy it, just for the novelty factor, but I can't say the average weight of a goat is in my general knowledge skills and at roughly $5/lb, I couldn't figure out how much said goat would cost. I passed. Just as well, because after coming home I realised there is no way I would fit a goat in my oven...

So, Costco - was it worth it? Perhaps after a year, if I buy enough oversized packs of Cheerios and tinned tomatoes, my membership fee might be paid off. Perhaps. But on the plus side - my Aussie accent did pay off. I met a lovely Australian lady who was at the checkout beside me! Until that point, my Costco experience was kinda frustrating so that cheered me up.

To the toy aisle, Mum!
I'm more of a local farmers market kinda gal. Costco truly was a shock to the system. I walked around feeling like I had betrayed my local Sprouts & Whole Foods. Will I go again? Well, yes, in the next year. But at this point in time, I'm in no hurry to renew my membership...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to calm a cranky baby

It's been one of those weeks. Toothy pegs 11 & 12 have cut through, leaving me with a clingy, cranky, drooling, biting, demanding little boy. This morning I was trying to get ready to go out and all my usual means of distracting Mr Oliver were just not cutting it.

NASA helped me keep my sanity this morning - it seems our house was right under the flight path of the space shuttle Endeavour, strapped to a 747 as it made its way down to LA. I heard a very loud noise, grabbed Oliver and my phone and ran outside to catch a glimpse as it flew by. Oliver is a real boys boy - he loves cars, he loves trucks, he loves road works... And he loves planes - 'wane' in Oliver talk. As soon as he saw that plane - cranky baby... What cranky baby? Distraction mission complete!


Sadly, all I ended up with though (other then a cheered up boy) was 1 second of dodgy footage as it disappeared behind a tree. I thought my phone was on photo setting but apparently not. Oh well... It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it go past and I'm pleased we saw it!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Portland, Oregon

Only a few days after getting home from Australia, we were off again! Portland, Oregon was next on the agenda - with Mitch having to head up here for work and the opportunity to meet up with an old friend from Australia, all three of us flew up for the weekend to have a mini break up north.

The city had a bit of an industrial feel to it - but there was plenty of greenery and some cool buildings...




Portland is known for it's beer (I even discovered my first 'beermosa') but I have to say, the food was pretty good too. In particular, there was a whole city block we discovered on Mitch's lunch break that was full of street food!


Another hidden gem was Voodoo Donuts - the lines were kind of off putting but it was well worth the wait...


Yup, that is crispy bacon on a maple syrup frosted donut! And oh my, it was GOOD! (so good Mitch took a bite before getting the camera out). Most of the donuts were strange combinations of breakfast cereal and peanut butter, but the chocolate-oreo-peanut butter one (top right) was to die for...


Sights to see, good food, good shopping - what more do you need... GOOD COMPANY!!!


Thank you to the lovely Amanda and Ben for making the effort to drive down south to meet up with us! Being able to hang out again after 2.5 years really made my weekend... I am thinking a trip to Seattle might be on the cards before too long :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

The half way point of our visit to Australia marked an important event - Mr Oliver turned 1!!! A mustache bash with family and friends was the perfect way to celebrate this big milestone in our little man's life.


It really was a beautiful day for a party. The table was set...


Yummy treats were prepared...





Mustaches were on...



Presents were opened...


Candles were blown...


Cake was devoured...


And most importantly - the birthday boy had a fabulous day!!!











Thanks to all of our friends and family who helped us celebrate our special little man's big day :-)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Home again...

Somehow, August is over and we are all home again. I blinked and the four weeks in Australia were gone, yet the one day traveling home (alone) with our wriggly, teething one year old seemed to drag on forever. I had been so nervous about the flight but it was all for nothing - despite major delays with the plane breaking down on the runway, Ollie took it all his stride and was an absolute champ. Being sick again though, I couldn't have done it without the assistance of so many fellow passengers. Honestly, I was blown away by the kindness of complete strangers - I actually ended up with more help then I needed! It seems people take pity on the poor woman traveling alone with a baby :-) I now have the confidence to do it again so watch out Australia, Mr Oliver and I will be back before you know it! It was a fantastic month...

We spent time with family and friends...








Oliver even made a new friend, Pip the pup - it would appear our boy is an animal lover like his Mumma...


We were lucky enough to (both) meet a new addition - my handsome newest nephew, Jack Archer...


And... We celebrated our big boy's first birthday!!!


More to come on that one :-)

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