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A little bit of everything

May 15, 2012

Let me start off by saying “sorry” for this post not only being very late, but also being very disjointed. I’ve written it over a few weeks, so here we go.

Easter in Hollywood

Wow. A lot has happened in the past two months or so. Whoops… again. This post started out as a catch-up for Easter, our trip to New Orleans, turning Evie’s car seat around to face forward, her speaking in whole sentences, and, last but not least, one epic second birthday party. And now you can add Mother’s Day to that list. OK, so maybe “epic” is a reach, but I bought matching tablecloths and made a rag garland. It was cute, goddammit.

So, the birthday party: A few weeks ago we rounded up the troops and headed to Douglas Park for Evie’s 2nd. Ed’s mom, brother, and new stepdad came to town for it.  Evie had a really awesome time running around the park in her new dress with matching sandals. (Sandals that I had to bribe her to wear, using leftover jellybeans). She ate many cupcakes, along with elephant-shaped cookies. Elephants were a loose theme for the party.  This was an excellent choice on my part a while back; after visiting the zoo, we now know that Evie is deathly afraid of elephants. She ate the cookies regardless.

Other than that, the party was pretty standard, you know cake, presents, balloons, more cake, and singing. For the record, I forgot the candle for her cupcake. She didn’t notice. Next year sweetie, I promise. This year I thought we could keep the party a little looser instead of having a planned activity. It worked out and when we got home, Evie got in her crib and said (very weakly) “it’s my birthday” and then instantly fell asleep. I’d call it a success!

Things are winding down around here since all the spring holidays are over. The giant bunny paid us a visit and hid eggs (and by hid I mean left them in plain sight, on toddler eye-level shelves). Evie thought that was pretty great and she talked about the Easter bunny the entire week before. A friend asked me how we were planning to explain the whole meaning of Easter to Evie, you know, with the rebirth of Christ and all. I said, “oh no, no, no Easter is about eggs, chocolate, bunnies and possibly ham and not much else.” Luckily she didn’t ask about Christ and just told me “jellybeans are yummy, mommy.” Exactly, sweetie.

Later on that day we went over Amy and Brandon’s house in Hollywood for dinner with a big group. I made a giant coconut cake ’cause that’s what you do on Easter. And we blew bubbles from the new bubble bucket the Bunny had brought Evie. Bubbles are huge with us right now. Bubbles and Play-Doh.

Evie is still doing great at school.  She is now more often speaking in complete sentences, which is always mind-blowing to me. Where does she get this stuff? OK, so for the record, Ed and I have done little-to-nothing to potty train except place the little training potty in the corner. But about a week and a half ago she just whipped off her diaper, sat down on her potty, and peed! It was amazing. We cheered. To be sure, she had done it the week before that at school, but whatever, I’m taking the credit.

We also finally turned her car seat around. I’m not sure why I was so excited about this, or why I felt it was such a milestone. Evie could not have cared less, but I like being able to look back at her from the front seat without needing a mirror. So we’re parents to a wild little two year old with preferences like to wear her “yellow shoes*” or “Santa PJs.” Both have made many appearances in pictures over the past few months. In fact, she was wearing Santa PJ’s on Easter morning. The previously mentioned yellow shoes were cute, but are now really gross and her little toes are starting to stick out. But she would wail if I place anything else on her feet.

So Birthday is done, Easter is done, and before all that happened Ed and I took Evie on her final “infant in arms” flight with Evie to New Orleans. Ed had a conference and we also thought we’d visit with my dad and stepmom. We went to the children’s museum and the aquarium. We ate grits and lots of amazing seafood. It was a great visit, but went by very quickly. I think that just about covers it for the month/ month and a half since last update.

We don’t have a lot coming up in the next few weeks, although Ed will be traveling back to PA this weekend to celebrate the lives of his grandmom and a friend from State College.

Mother’s Day was yesterday. We celebrated yesterday with an amazing and very memorable breakfast at 26 Beach. Best french toast I’ve had in a really long time. And then I attended a pop physique class and got a pedicure. I had planned a picnic on the beach for the fam that night, but Santa Monica is covered in gloom like 80% of the time during May & June. I know, boo-hoo us. Not really complaining, but it just wasn’t picnic weather. Oh, and Ed bought me these totally awesome shoes too. All in all: a really nice day.

I can finally bid you adieu since I’ve pretty much just spilled out most everything in my head for right now. It’s late and time to say goodnight!  See you soon.

Also, here are recent pictures.

*I’ve thrown away said yellow shoes because they got wet and moldy and were looking pretty gross. She took it like a champ.

Kathryne Walker, 1920-2012

May 14, 2012

We learned today that Ed’s grandmother, Kathryne (Kay) Walker, passed today at the age of 91.  We are deeply saddened and will miss her dearly.

Here is a photo of Kay and Evie from the holidays.



Grandmom Walker with Evie

I realize I only post once a month but…

March 5, 2012

… but life.

I will keep the blog alive, but I will no longer apologize for posting once a millennium. That is a promise I can keep, unlike my New Year’s resolution.

During the week we continue to run a tight ship around here, but the weekends have been full of activity. As much as I’d like to just lay around some days, Evie would lose her little mind if we spent an entire day in the apartment. So every Saturday, Sunday, or both, we’re doing all sorts of things outdoors.

Like hiking, and lots of it.  Ed has actually started to keep up a Google Map of where we’ve hiked around LA so far.  Check it out!

But lots of other things too.  Three weeks ago we did the aquarium, last week was the botanical gardens and the zoo, today I met Amy we did a park in Silver Lake and then brunch at a trendy spot in Sunset Junction.  I don’t want Evie to grow up expecting that every weekend will always be mega-super-fun time, but I will admit it: this is pretty great.

I’m getting to see more parts of the city and surrounding areas, not to mention all of the experiences Evie is getting to have. I’m not getting over this city anytime soon and there is new stuff to explore always. I just LOVE it here and hopefully Evie will too.

I’m going to brag about living here for a minute, so bear with me.

Today was super hot for March (low 80s), so I took Evie out to meet up with Amy. Ed went to do his seminar reading and review a few manuscripts on the beach.  I still ride my bike to work every day. I occasionally see celebrities on the 3rd Street Promenade, and the other day I missed Magic Johnson in my office’s lobby by like two minutes!  My office has the greatest view, and Ed usually takes visitors up to my floor just to see it.

Don’t get me wrong, this place has it’s downsides: traffic (of course), distance from our families, and it is still a real deal city with its associated urban problems. Take this morning for example. I wake up, get ready, and walk to the car, noticing a huge dent in the roof. (Actually the word “dent” doesn’t really do it justice.  It’s seriously concave.) My first pollyannaish thought is, “that must have been the work of a very large pine cone.”  Until I notice the Chuck Taylor footprints on the hood.  Yes, someone climbed up the front of the car and then jumped on the roof. WTF! And why? I said it on Facebook and I’ll say it again: the person who did this is an idiot and I hope something bad happens to him. I assume this won’t be the last city-esque thing that happens to us here, but so far the good has outweighed the bad by a long shot. I’m going to brush this crime aside, open up our wallet to the body shop, and focus on the good stuff.

Ed will be done teaching soon which means the option of more weekend fun, hiking, and other activities. We plan to do some weekend trips up the coast this summer, explore some more areas of California, and hopefully get up to Big Sur and San Francisco again. I’ll keep this here bloggy-blog updated a little in the upcoming months.

Other goings-on in the Walker/Kusiv household. I cut Evie’s hair! Bangs rather. The few times I’ve tried this in the past led to disastrous results.  But this time was successful. It was no more than three snips straight across, so how bad could I have done? Still, we were prepared to visit a professional if need be. Once her hair grows past the toddler-mullet stage, we’ll take her to a stylist.

Cutting Evie’s bangs reminded me of my mom cutting my own hair, which terrified me. In my hazy memory of that age, she poked me once with scissors and I was forever convinced she was going to cut my eyebrows off. I’m sure I jerked my head or something. From that point on, I screamed if she came anywhere near me with those scissors. Memories.

Evie is still doing great developmentally and is memorizing more of her books all the time. The “Evie version” of her books is hilarious too. Some she’s got down perfectly and can recite without looking at the book, like Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. And here is a video of Evie doing Panda Bear, Panda Bear.  Others are a little more abridged like The Snowy Day, which as been condensed down to “Crunch, crunch, crunch, feet, snow.” That pretty much sums it up though, right?

So that’s where we are right now. We’re busy, happy, and Evie’s hair is finally out of her eyes without the loss of any eyebrows… yet.

The Terrible Almost-Twos

February 13, 2012

Me & Evie, 2nd St., Santa Monica


The past few weeks have been tough. Life is crazy and Evie has slid right into the tantrum stage of the toddler game and… have I mentioned that finally weaned? After 22 long months, I was finally ready to say “no.” I was done.

As I mentioned before, we cut nursing down to twice a day, but then twice a day turned into once after school and one very long session throughout the night. I was losing sleep, she was losing sleep, and I was finally ready. So a few weeks ago we just stopped. I couldn’t see a way to actually wean, so we went cold turkey. I thought cutting back anymore would be really confusing to her.  Like saying, “No honey, it’s 2am and we only nurse at midnight and 6am. Sorry!” I didn’t want it to seem capricious.

So done we were, and that first night when she woke up at midnight (saying “Evie nurse! Evie nurse!”), we had one incrediblely unhappy toddler on our hands. It took about an hour and a half until she stopped wailing. There was nothing we could do, and we tried everything. For some reason what worked — or at least got her to stop screaming — was when I held her and spoke a few words to her. It was as if talking distracted her enough to make her think, “Wait I’m tired as hell.” I then had to walk her around our coffee table for another fifteen minutes before I could finally place her down in her crib.

No night was like the first, but none of those first weaning nights were easy. All three of us were up for hours. Luckily things settled down a bit after that first week.

Although I think we’re now past the worst of it, the week before last she started demanding that mommy put her down to sleep again.  This, in turn, has been bringing mommy closer to the edge. Working full-time with a very, very busy husband and an incredibly cranky toddler is no good. Something had to give. As first-time parents, you always have to step back and ask, “why are we letting our 22 month old call all the shots?” This is when we take a step back and prioritize.

Ed is back to putting Evie down. She cries out for mommy sometimes, but we’re firm about daddy putting her down. Every so often she still needs me or Ed to go in and put a hand on her, but for the most part we’re doing well. Let’s just call it a work in progress.

Then we have tantrums. Yesterday when we told Evie she couldn’t stand on the table, she produced one absolutely epic meltdown. For thirty straight minutes we could do nothing. We had the crying, the flailing, the pounding on the ground and there was abso-lutely nothing we could give her. After offering songs, books, and walks outside, we started getting desperate: cookies and a Yo Gabba Gabba episode (otherwise only available on the plane!) were now on offer. Not even that would calm her down. Like a terrible hang over: time was the only cure. We got through it. We’ll get through it again but this is a tough time.

Not having even that hour at night to myself has been trying and one of the reasons I haven’t posted much lately. Like I said, something has to give. But I’m here and writing an update again because the blog still matters to me, and Evie went down for Ed at 8:00 tonight.

Despite having an overall rough time with Evie this month, today was great. Amy and Brandon met Evie and me in Santa Monica, and we all headed to Long Beach for a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Evie was a doll the entire day. She didn’t misbehave at all, she stayed with us and she loved every second. After we got home and she woke up from her nap, Ed asked Evie if she had a good nap. She said, “yes, fishes.” After the nap we went to the park. Usually leaving the park means dragging a screaming toddler four blocks home, but today she was grand. Being a parent is hard, really hard sometimes. Some days I want to crawl into a hole, but Evie is awesome. She pushes boundaries and is constantly testing our patience, but she never fails to bring a smile to our faces. I love her more than I can ever write in this blog, which makes it all worth it and as I’ve been told it gets easier… right?

Fluffy Chickens: An Hour-by-Hour+ Day of Pictures

January 12, 2012

Last Sunday we had a very full day and I tried to capture it by taking at least one picture per hour (plus a few extra). It was one of my 2012 goals to take on a blog challenge, so cheers to me! Looking back, I’m realizing it was a big day, including: Santa Monica farmer’s market, petting zoo, lunch at Ed’s department chair’s house, Evie’s first pigtails, first tricycle ride, playing, reading and beyond!

Now I present you with a full day with us.

Happy 2012!

January 7, 2012

Christmas is over, we’re home, and New Year’s Day is behind us. I could start complaining about how January 1st is really the worst time to “start over,” but I won’t because we had a really nice New Year’s Eve with one toddler, two pugs, a few cocktails, an amazing dinner by Brandon and a sleepover over at their place. It was totally fun. Board games were played, Portlandia was watched, and then we rung in the new year in our PJs. (It was amazing that we even made it to midnight).

Then we were quickly reminded why we don’t do things like stay up past midnight when Evie awoke somewhere around 5:30am. But it was fine. Ed and I had a lazy day at home trading naps and followed it up with a sunset bike ride along the coast up to the Will Rogers State Beach. Living in LA has its perks.

It’s good to be home after our long trip to Philly and New Jersey with a brief visit to Maryland. Every year I kinda wish we were just staying in one place, but I want to see as many people/friends/family as possible. We don’t get back east very often, so we soldier on. Evie did wonderfully on the plane in both directions, and is doing great all around.

Evie is awesome and she gets a little more awesome all the time. Someone asked me about the terrible twos the other day and I thought: she keeps getting better, so how terrible could they be? But what do I know?

My favorite part of the trip was getting to spend longer amounts of time with people so they could really hang out with Evie. It’s best when we’re stationary for a few hours at least, so she can get comfortable with whomever we are with. She’s getting really great with names and her memory is getting better all the time. For instance as soon as we got to my aunt’s house and my stepdad walked in, Evie pointed and said “Granpa Buce!” She hasn’t seen him for about a month. I could probably brag all day but really she is doing so well and we’re really happy. She was such a trooper through the entire trip and as always seemed to enjoy the go, go, go of the whole thing. I could go over the entire trip, but I’ll just let our flickr pictures do that for us.

As for resolutions. As much as I dislike the holiday, I can’t help but think: I’m going to start doing [X] better from now on. I like to think of this more as “Christmas is over, I can now get back to my regularly scheduled life with a few caveats.” Some considerations: (1) No more crazy work pastries or eating out for lunch. (2) Attempt to start running during the week more often. (3) I’ve given up the lose ten pounds bit. I’m really pretty happy with my weight now and I just want to feel better and feeling better means exercise. (4) I want to introduce Evie to an even more diverse and healthy set of foods. We eat pretty well but when things get crazy we tend to fall back on a few key foods that she likes and we’re getting lazy about it. The great kid cookbook Le Petit Appetit has come back off our shelf and I’m ready to try some new things out on her.  (5) I want to blog more. I think about this blog constantly and I wish I posted more. I’ve got a million posts in my head where I take pictures of everything I do and immediately post about it the next second, but it’s just not possible. I’ll never be a blog superstar and that’s OK. I just want to focus on what I can do rather than feeling bad about what I can’t.

2011, you were a nice year — a year of transition.  Not an over-the-top spectacular year, but a good year. 2012, I’m excited about you. We’ve got lots of stuff planned, we’re living in a great new city/state with lots to explore, and I’m really looking forward to it. Hope you’re looking forward to it too!

Santa 2011

December 21, 2011

Around these parts, Santa comes early.

And it could be at any minute of the day. That guy is a slippery devil, but that’s the “magic,” right? Luckily, our baby girl still doesn’t know about the big guy, just that while she was playing in a bubble bath, a giant blue bouncy horse appeared before that huge tree we keep in the house.

Christmas is a nutty, is it not? Ed and I usually haul everything back east to spend the holidays with our families, and it’s usually no problem to get everything there. But it’s really, really important to me that we start observing traditions now. I’m still working out the logistics of it all for next year, but this year there are two Christmases for Evie — one in the west, one in the east — and that’s just it. As my mom assured me last year, when there are presents involved, no kid will question it, and when I gave birth I acquired the ability to lie on the spot to my child about anything. Especially regarding Santa. Talking your way out of Santa questions is like talking to a Schizophrenic person, meaning that it involves little or no logic; only a very malleable set of propositions.

Either way, Evie did not care and immediately picked up her Rody and started carrying it around the second she laid eyes on it. She doesn’t quite get the excitement of tearing into the presents yet, but I think she’ll get the hang of it. Western Christmas was a success! She loved everything we got her, even the books.  So I felt good because I hate getting people stuff they won’t like or use. It kills me.

Other than that, December has been absolutely bananas. I was losing my mind on a daily basis about finishing things up. I really wanted to sit back and enjoy some egg nog with a christmas movie, but I really had a lot to get done on a nightly basis. It was either the cards, the homemade gifts, our packages that needed to be shipped home, or other items that just had to get done. But it’s all finished now!

About those Christmas cards. Friday night, while trying to run the (entirely too small) envelopes through our printer, I went over the edge because in my mind there was no alternative and the cards needed to get out the door on Saturday. I made myself a little crazy.  Ed suggested some relaxation techniques!  Then he sat down with me on Saturday morning and we wrote out all of the envelopes to our growing Christmas address list. This did make me feel better, believe it or not. It wasn’t until Sunday (wonderful Sunday!) when I just sat back and spent time with Evie. It was a perfectly banal day. Then I made dinner and we all exchanged.

Although Christmas makes me crazy every year, I love the holidays. I love the music — I know, I know — the movies, decorating, the eating/baking, the parties. I love it but I do not love feeling crazy anxious for a month leading up to it. So I’m making a pledge to myself for next year. Next year I’m going to enjoy Christmas. Ed and I have decided to be in LA for Christmas Day 2012, so we won’t need to go crazy shipping all of our gifts back and trying to see everyone. We’ll probably fly back on the 28th and stay until after New Year’s Day. A post-Christmas visit to see who we can.

I want to start some LA traditions next year because this city has a lot going on. UCLA has a huge Nutcracker production and Manhattan Beach hosts a huge pre-Christmas fireworks show. Sign me up! I pledge go not lose my head trying to make 84 gifts for people in addition to the shopping, baking, cutting, covering in glitter and whatever else I’m up to.

For now things are good, as we’re getting ready to fly to Philly tomorrow morning.  Very excited to see everyone!


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