Illuminating Stella

Spring 2016

So here’s what we’ve been up to the last few months. I’ve been a lazy blogger for sure. But we’ve had a great couple months and up to lots of good stuff.

Park days! Almost every day, except maybe school days we hit the park. It’s the place to be, just ask Stella. She loves being outside in the fresh air. I love that she is able to have a great time whether we are meeting friends, she plays with random kids or has the park to herself.  Sometimes I worry about the lack of a sibling in her life, but she’s pretty flexible and just happy to be exploring.

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This picture went up on her dance studios Facebook page. Can’t believe this was a year ago. They were so tiny. Looking forward to another great performance in July.


Sofie’s 4th Birthday and a truly great gymnastics theme party. We are seriously thinking about taking a class at this gym now, though no idea where it will fit into her schedule. The party was an Inside Out/Angry Birds theme. Guess who had to have the “Disgust” cupcake.

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Earth Day Festival. Someone really enjoyed painting her birdcage at the Home Depot Booth.


Disney on Ice. Their faces say it all. Quite the extravaganza of Disney characters.


Long Beach Touch a Truck Event. Guess who rode a cherry picker up very high in the sky (I have the best video of this) and explored all kinds of city trucks, service vehicles in addition to random cars including the Scooby Doo Van. They do this event in a large parking lot by the beach and it’s gotten so popular you have to RSVP. Of course it’s like a symphony (note sarcasm) of honking horns and such. My friend who lives across the street was trying to sleep in when we texted for a potty emergency, not realizing we’d wake her up and she was like, ” I think they are filming some war movie on the beach”- LOL. She still didn’t seem too amused when we explained what was going on.

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New coffee shop/wine & craft beer market in the neighborhood. WELCOME to the neighborhood we say!!!


Mother’s Day Picture with all the ladies.


Playdates with her cousin Genna while Maddie’s at school. These two are adorable together. I love their conversations, its ridiculous.

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Lunch with Jen and Sasha in Newport. Stella worships Sasha. She is so great with Stella too. Just a beautiful, wonderful and wise girl.


Time for the water table to come back out. Makes some people around here quite happy.


Genna’s 4th Birthday, a cute art and animal themed party at Michaels. The girls loved their tiger face paint in honor of Genna’s favorite animal. Of course the party still erupted into a dance party, which may have been my favorite part!

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We continued celebrating Genna’s birthday with a family trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. Pretty fun day and the highlight may have been watching my parents come down the final hill/slide of the log ride and my Mom’s huge scream.

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Fairy arm paint at her school open house. She loved this fairy so much!


A hike through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands with Grady and Keegan (Sharla’s boys). The hand-holding sweetness didn’t last too long, but it was cute while it did. Sharla and I have been friend since 7th grade. Pretty amazing when you think about that.


A little trip to Vegas where John had a work conference and his Mom and Brother decided to fly in and join us. Stella just loved spending time with them. We discovered a few good kid parks in Vegas including the Town Square which had an amazing children’s park and the Container Park which had the coolest “treehouse” for kids. We also took her back to see the Mermaid at the Silverton as we are planning her Little Mermaid Birthday for the end of June.

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Long Beach Vegan Festival where Stella enjoyed a few treats, especially the vegan cupcake kabob below. Unfortunately, the festival was so packed we just didn’t have the bandwidth to stand in line to try the food that looked so good. I think they got a way bigger crowd than they were planning for.

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We celebrated my Dad’s 70th Birthday at the Lighthouse Bayview Cafe in Newport Beach. The grand-daughters helped him enjoy his sundae. Then we moved over the adjacent Marina Park and let the girls play, lots on the giant lighthouse slide and had cake. Super-beautiful spot on the Bay for a perfect afternoon.

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These two, sometimes look so much alike!


Scooter rides are becoming a bi-weekly ritual.


Nothing like a popsicle in the park her adorable friend Sofie. Here’s to summer.




Eating: So I’ve been doing a mostly gluten free diet for the past few months at this point. As I suffered another round of uveits/iritis in my left eye this winter that really got nasty, I decided to try some alternative ways to control inflammation in my body. I did finally get some rounds of blood work, spine x-rays and a rheumatologist involved. Ultimately, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Chrohns’s etc were ruled out, which is a relief. But at the end of the day, no great answers why this auto-immune condition keeps popping up over the last ten years. This round was extra scary, as I really lost vision in the eye and had to be put on oral steroids for many weeks to control it. Just the thing you want to be on, right when starting your New Years weight loss goals. So far, cutting out gluten has been relatively easy. I have also been limiting sugar, especially refined sugar and overall trying to get more whole foods in my body. I can’t say that I have seen any dramatic results with weight-loss or energy so far. But I’m sticking with it. We have been getting a meal prep delivery service, SunBasket which has a gluten-free option and the meals have been very good.

Drinking: So I had started occasionally drinking an Organic Energy Drink on afternoons I was working, which then creeped into most afternoons. Sugar is a drug. Watch this if you need any convincing. It’s really worth your time. When I started looking at my sugar consumption, this was the first thing that had to go. I neglected to notice that it had 24 grams of sugar and one can was two servings, what a whopping serving of sugar everyday. We also re-evaluated Stella’s diet after watching this, cutting out as much processed sugar, fruit juices, yogurts, desserts as we can.  Now I am drinking Green Tea with no sugar or this Celestial Cool Brew Tea/Lemonade (also no sugar) for my afternoon pick-up and I have to say, I am sleeping better.


Watching: We took Stella to see Zootopia with her buddy Grace. It was so well done and I loved the message, though I think it was all a bit over her head. John and I also zipped through first two seasons of Catastrophe on Amazon, very funny. We watched the latest season of House of Cards too, it was pretty depressing, especially in light of the current political climate. We’ve also been watching the real life Republican and Democratic debates. Painful.


Exercising: We’ve been trying to get out for some family exercise every weekend. We have a membership for El Dorado Park and do the Nature Center Hike every few weeks, but last weekend we decided to head to the main park and ended up renting one of the surrey bikes on a whim and taking it around the big loop twice. I didn’t take any pictures but the one above shows what it looks like. Helluva a leg work-out by the way. Stella had an absolute blast riding in the kid seat, it was truly a beautiful day too. We then headed over to the playground for a picnic.  I have also been getting back to yoga and taking a few restorative yoga classes and even got John to come with me. Restored body, restored passion for yoga.

Loving: The hilariously adorable and sweet things Stella says and does all the time. The other day we were cleaning up her play food/kitchen and there was this little basket on the top of her kitchen, I asked her where it goes and she said, “Mama, that’s for my tips”. It was filled with little alphabet letters, I just had to laugh. We’ve never discussed what tips are with her, but I guess she gets whats happening at the end of a meal out or when we go into a coffee shop, etc. She wants in on that action.

Procrastinating: Housework and hiring a housekeeper which we decided a few months ago we were ready to employ again. But doing the deep clean before we have a housekeeper come appraise seems too daunting. It’s pretty lame.

Reading: The Paris Wife for bookclub. About half-way through and finding it pretty interesting. I love this period in history.


Preparing for Summer: The Easter Bunny brought Stella some navy blue saltwater sandals and it’s kind of kickstarted a navy summer theme. I bought Stella a couple of adorable bathing suits on sale at Hanna Anderson. This one and this one with bottoms. Also, got this adorable dress from my Mom from Carters and then two more navy dresses from H & M, like the one above with cheerful butterflies. My friend Kristina got in the car with us the other day and told Stella that she is always wearing such happy clothes, it’s pretty true and really validated the clothes I am drawn to for Stella. They reflect her chipper, out-going persona to a T.

Spring Break & Easter 2016

We had another wonderful Easter/Spring Break this year. Although with the job, we had to do a little juggling to cover Stella’s usual Tuesday/Thursday school hours. My parents were so helpful to take Stella overnight Monday and all day Tuesday and John took Thursday off work and was quite brave to take  Stella to Knott’s Berry Farm. It was a nice treat to get picture texts of them off on a fun Dad/Daughter adventure while I was at work. My cousin, Camala or “CC’ as Stella calls her came down and stayed a few days and joined us for Easter with the whole family, including Great Aunt Cathi and Uncle D. Stella was thrilled to have CC here, she is a total celebrity to her. Especially when she let’s her join her in the bathroom and get (not her first) a CC make-up tutorial as she got ready for Easter festivities. Listening in on that conversation was pure adorable. Camala and I also took in a great yoga class and a long walk on the beach.

On Friday my Sister and I took the girls to get pictures taken for our Mom as a 70th Birthday gift. Then we took the girls to the Santa Ana Zoo for the afternoon. We enjoyed Stella singing in church with her preschool followed by an egg hunt. We also had another great Easter Egg Hunt and Potluck at the park with our playgroup. Stella has been watching some “Surprise Egg” videos on Kids YouTube lately, so she was delighted to get three KinderEggs in her Easter Basket this year. She got the “american” choking hazard-safe version, but she loved them. I kind of got them on a whim on Amazon, since we decided we were doing very limited candy/chocolate in her basket since we knew she would get soooo much from all the events we went to during the holiday week. The three eggs were it. She was pretty jazzed to see the eggs in real life and did not seem to notice any difference. (In Europe the toys come disassembled inside hollow chocolate eggs. Here the egg is split in half with the toy on one side and kind of a chocolate fun dip with a spatula to eat it.)  I think she was most happy about more art supplies, as painting and coloring are her biggest passions lately. She has also become quite passionate about cooking and has been John’s dinner prep cook in the kitchen many nights. He even got her the cutest pink polka-dot apron for her to wear. On Sunday we celebrated my Mom’s 70th Birthday with a perfect brunch on the water at The Cannery in Newport. Perfect ending to Spring Break.

So here are the photos!