What IS that thing?!?

It's a mailbox, of course!
I'm just waiting for the note on our front door: "Sorry, but we can no longer deliver your mail to your home. Your mailbox seems to have been eaten by an extremely aggressive vine."
I really should trim this back, but it's so beautiful that I just can't! The gardeners came today and even THEY left it alone. And I've historically had a very bad time with gardeners and morning glories. The don't like them, and every time I plant them they do their best to destroy them and make it look like an accident.

Slightly (or very) rattled

This is the full extent of the damage the 5.4 earthquake this morning did to my house. One fallen sippy cup. You'd think that was a pretty mild shake, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong.

Of the things that I've encountered so far in this life there are only two that really, truly terrify me: flying and earthquakes. Both of them bring on near panic attacks and I simply cannot help it. I know that flying is safer than driving on the freeway, and I know that if you survive the initial earthquake you've made it, because it's not going to get any worse. Aftershocks get smaller, not bigger, no matter what the media hype wants you to think. But still. Before I fly it's good if I can get some Ambien and a Xanax and maybe some hard liquor, and before an earthquake.... maybe that's what gets me. There's no way to be ready for them.

I was at my parents' house this morning (fairly close to the epicenter) when the earthquake hit, and it was a good thing I wasn't home alone with the boys. My mom grabbed Judah at the first small shake and headed for a doorway. As for me, all those drills in first grade paid off and I crawled for the dining room table and was under it by the time the really big jolt hit. Unfortunately, I act only on instinct and don't actually think what I'm doing, because I grabbed Micah by the arm to take him with me and ended up dragging him across the floor and possibly banging his head into the table leg. What a great mom, huh? The earthquake alone wouldn't have scared him, but my reaction totally undid him and he cried for a good long time.

After the earthquake ended Judah asked if we could do it again. He loved it!


A shout out to Africa

My dad is in Africa. I know, right? That was unexpected. But the trip makes sense, if you know my dad. It's missions trip with a group from my church, and they went to Liberia to help get African Bible College (ABC) up and running again after years of war shut it down. So they're doing stuff like painting and wiring and repairing, stuff my dad's super good at. He left earlier this week and is gone for two weeks.

I took this picture hoping to send it to my dad in an email, but then bubbs went crazy and told me it was too big to send, and since I have no idea how to compress pictures I gave up and posted it here. It was harder to take this picture than expected, since I had to get Judah to take time out of his busy "plant-watering" schedule to stand still for a second. And by "plant-watering" I mean turning the backyard into a mud hole and getting soaked in the process. I tried to fight this at first, but quickly gave up. Clothes and kids are washable, thank the Lord! And hearing him talk to himself and laugh while he plays are too funny for words. Anyway, I told him Papa's in Africa and that that's very far away. He didn't understand, but sends his greetings all the same!


A little help, my artsy friends?

So, I'm working on a project. I thought it would be pretty easy, but it turns out it's harder than I anticipated. For several reasons. I saw this idea in a magazine to go around and take pictures of the letters in your kids' names, then frame them for their walls. Sounds easy, right? Not if you're me, I guess. Here are my problems:

1. Most letters are up high, and if I zoom in too much I won't be able to enlarge them enough to frame.

2. The style I want is mostly extinct around here. Judah's room is vintage travel, so I'm looking for old Route 66 type stuff, like the "SH" and "WA" above. Micah's will be in black and white and I want kind of an old neon lights feel, like the "M" above. But this area has become so modernized that these cool old signs are all but gone. The few that I found were on Beach Boulevard and when I pulled in to the motel parking lot to take a picture of the M I was afraid I was about to be mugged for drug money by the "tenants" standing around.

So, for those of you who are local, any suggestions on places to look?


A few of Judah's favorite things

It's been kind of a miserable day here at Casa de Cowell. I spent last night having nightmares that I can't remember now but which left me exhausted from the word go. Which, for Judah, was at 5:50 this morning. He woke up, his waking up woke Micah up (thankfully Micah went back to sleep), and that was how it started. I took this picture of Judah at 8:30. How tired does he look already? And yet he will not sleep later for love or money or jellybeans. Right after I took this picture he asked me to take a picture of his bench. So I did, and he thought that was funny, so for a while we walked around and I took pictures of whatever Jude told me to. It was pretty fun, a bright spot in a dull day. It was interesting for me to see what Judah deemed worthy of blog-preservation, I have no idea why he picked these things over some other toys that he plays with all the time. But that's a three-year-old for you, right?
Hand-me-down toy storage bench from Rachel and Naomi. Judah mostly stands on it to reach the light switch above it (if I'd shot higher you'd see the dozens of dirty finger prints on the wall) and flip it on and off to throw light switch raves.
The Cat. Otherwise known as Payasa (pie-YA-suh), or, as Judah says, Payasa (pie-yuh-SAW), like her name's Japanese and not Spanish.
Soccer ball, or The Most Important Object In The World.
The red Pottery Barn chair that Jude ignored for the first year and a half he owned it and now likes to turn over to make a "house."

Sunday School paper plate art. He's going through his Pollock period at the moment.
CD. ???????????
Tractor toy from Cars. I have to admit, it's pretty clever, and I probably play with it more than Judah does.
Noisiest Toy Ever Invented (thanks, mom and dad). I actually don't mind this toy, except when Judah gets fixated on the fire truck sound effect at 6:00 in the morning. The steering wheel is broken from that one time Jude threw it down the stairs.
And Baby Tad. Technically, Micah's toy. Judah took it hostage and he and Nathan have a fairly disturbing dance they do when Judah presses Tad's foot and Tad says, "Let's Salsa!" Sometimes I join in, because I love the way it makes Judah fall over with laughter.


4th of July - again!

Since I was too tired to write it all up last night, here we go! We spent the early part of yesterday relaxing by ourselves, sleeping in a little (well, not Judah who woke up at his usual 6:30, but Nathan and I slept a little more while Judah watched cartoons and Micah didn't wake up until 11:30 - I'm not even kidding) and going for lunch at Taco Bell. Because nothing says America like Americanized Mexican food, right? After naps we headed for La Habra Heights and Dave and Julie's house where we hung out with the whole clan. The picture above isn't complete: besides the Little and Cowell families, Jaysen and Jessica and Jenna and Jake Humes and Jess and Joyce De La Ossa were there, and it was so much fun! Check out Jenna's blog for a picture of everyone together. Dave and Jess barbecued incredible carne asada, Joyce made refried beans to die for. Add in Spanish rice, fruit salad, homemade guacamole, vegies, and brownies and ice cream for dessert, and it was a perfect meal.
Before dinner all the kids ran around playing like crazy, spending a lot of time in the pool and on the slip and slide.
Judah had been looking forward to playing baseball in Dave's backyard all day, and he and Nathan were out there for quite a while. When Judah went off to some other amusement I took a turn as pitcher while Nathan batted. Let's just say that I'm not Dodger material, so Nathan spent a lot of time jumping around, swinging the bat in all directions to hit my very erratic pitches. It looked a little like baseball ballet!
Here's the fam at dinner on the patio.......
And one of Dave's famous "eating" shots.
After dinner the four of us left to meet up with the Cowell and Stokes families at a park in Yorba Linda for more food and fireworks. We loaded Judah up with glow sticks so we could see him more easily if he ran off. He loved them and used a couple of them as drum sticks. But the real trick to finding your child in this crowd was to NOT dress him in a red shirt. Seriously, it seemed like every boy there was wearing a red shirt and denim shorts and had blond hair. Next year Judah will wear bright yellow or something.
Micah had a great time being hauled around by Rachel and Naomi and playing with them on the blankets. He liked the glow sticks too. He liked to chew on them.
We managed to get one shot of just our family. It's not a great one, but it's the best we could hope for at the end of a long day. At least no one's screaming.
Judah is traditionally terrified of fireworks. And by terrified I mean shaking, sweating, screaming panic. This year we borrowed some of Ken's "ears" that he uses when he's working with loud machines. Judah's worn them before, to a monster truck rally, and now he kind of thinks they're magic. We hyped up the fireworks for days beforehand, gave him some ears, and hoped for the best. They totally did the trick. He was still a little afraid at first, but a few minutes in he was super excited, though he remained cuddled very close to Nathan. Micah did great, sitting in my lap, sucking his thumb (WAY past bedtime at that point), and watching, wide-eyed. At one point he took his thumb out of his mouth to laugh at all the light and noise. So cute.
And one last firework shot. What a perfect end to a perfect day!


Happy 4th of July!

I love the 4th of July. It's one of my very favorite holidays: great food, family together, totally relaxed atmosphere, and lots and lots of tradition. But not stuffy tradition! It's all fun tradition, like baseball and cheesy music and FIREWORKS!! It's the one day you can wear totally, unapologetically kitschy clothes and get away with it. Got a skirt made of denim and bandanas? Wear it. A sequined Uncle Sam hat? A quilted red, white and blue vest you've had since 1968? I love it. And so does everyone else! And did I mention there are fireworks? I love fireworks. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that they make me tear up sometimes, especially when they play that really bluesy Ray Charles version of America the Beautiful in the background.

I'll post more pics and stories tomorrow, but for now I'm off to bed. I'm beat! Happy 4th, everyone! I know it's cliche, but appreciate your freedoms today.

Models in the making

Two of my sisters-in-law, Ashlee and Heather, are collaborating on opening an Etsy shop. It's very exciting! Heather recently rediscovered her love of sewing and immediately started making the most adorable dresses for little girls, and Ashlee is making really really cute matching hair bows. It's fun to watch this project develop, and yesterday I got to be a part of it. We met up at Ashlee's parents' house and turned Eszter and Sophia into models. I got to be the photographer, and it was so much fun! They were naturals. :) Here are a few of the shots from the day. There were a lot more cute ones, but they wound up on Ashlee's camera since my battery died halfway through.

Anyway, check out the store for the rest of the clothes. They make me want to have a girl SO BAD!!!


Almost as bad as when I tell people Nathan's a chiroproctologist

Nathan: Judah, do you know what Daddy does?

Judah: Hmmm..... (yes, he actually says this when he doesn't know, usually tapping his chin with his index finger at the same time)

N: Daddy's a chiropractor. Can you say chiropractor?


N: Try again: Chiropractor.


N: Good job, Buddy.