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    Taking a Train Ride

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

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    Most people equate trains and subway systems with cities like New York, London, Paris, or Tokyo. I'm not sure if L.A. crosses their minds, but let it be known, there are trains in California. After working to get everyone back into good health, our family decided to take a day trip into Los Angeles. It was our first excursion of the new year and if any indication, a sign of many fun things to come.

    At the advice of a good friend, we drove to Moorpark and took a double-decker train into the city. It was a lengthy, though pleasant trip, and we all remarked that we would gladly do it again. Jackson, especially, was the most enthused about the ride. As a train afficionado, he remarked upon all the makes and models we passed along the way. He barely sat, preferring to stare out the window and talk non-stop to my mother about everything he saw. The ride was worth it for his enjoyment alone. He loves trains and for him, it was a dream come true. Look at the excitement on that precious face!

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    Our friend advised the train trip as we were headed into the center of what was the birthplace of Los Angeles. Called El Pueblo de Los Angeles, it is the site where 44 settlers founded this now great city. The founders were of varying ethnic bacgrounds, but in this one spot, you will see many tributes to all who helped build what we now know as the city of angels.

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    Right outside of the historic Union Station, it is a small area, yet there were many things to take in~all of which have been preserved beautifully. Fire House No. 1, the Hellman-Quon building, the Avila Adobe Museum. It was really neat to see how so much originated in one square. Chinatown, though no longer there, was actually born in this location. To commemorate it, the Chinese History Museum was built right off the square~a spot which now holds a very strong Hispanic influence. It is on a small street, Olvera, where we spent most of our time. We browsed the booths, explored the shops, and ate the most delicious meal at La Golondrina. Horchatas and margaritas flowed as we enjoyed the tastiest Mexican lunch, only to be followed by the most amazing churros. If you're ever in El Pueblo, it is highly recommended that you stop at Mr. Churro's for it's namesake's dessert. After enjoying one con leche, I can assure you that it is worth it.

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    We ended our day back on the train. Tired, but really happy, the day had been marvelous. We talk about taking another ride in the future, but heading into Santa Barbara instead. Doesn't that sound like fun? I think we were all pleasantly surprised by how good this experience turned out. We knew it would be fun, but didn't anticipate how much. Enjoy more pictures from our day, and if you're at home in New Orleans: Happy Twelfth Night!

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    Happy Birthday, Ruth

    Friday, December 26, 2014

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    Good morning everyone. I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas! We enjoyed ours thoroughly, but I would be remiss if I didn't say that yesterday had special meaning for another reason. One of my neareast and dearest friends, Ruth, celebrated her birthday. Not only is she my sister and Auntie to my children, she has been a part of all the major milestones in our lives. There is no one more giving, thoughtful, or self-sacrificing than Ruth and we are incredibly happy to call her a friend. She deserves the best of everything, and it's what we wished for her on her big day on Dcember 25th. Happy Birthday, sweet friend. I hope you enjoyed your day from beginning to end. We love you!

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    Scenes from the Christmas House

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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    Every year it feels as if Christmastime is growing shorter and shorter. I suppose I could put my decorations up earlier, but the season seems to lose some of its meaning when you give the prior one the bum's rush. This December has been filled, and we've all been pretty much living off of a calendar of events. It's made me realize that we all need to slow down and put the calendar away (especially since decorating became something of an afterthought until last week). And we did. The past couple of days have been purposefully slow and easy. There has been intention behind our quieter moments. I even pulled out the camera and during a walk around the house, captured my favorite moments of Christmas cheer. Hope y'all enjoy!

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    Pops of red, packages tied up with satin ribbons, simple, happy moments. Looking back at the pictures you see here (and the ones you don't!), it feels as if we've had a pretty good Christmas season. But the reality is that until we had the intention of easing up, we didn't do it. It's a lesson we learned a little late this year, but it definitely makes these "now" moments all the more precious. Merry, merry y'all! I'll see you on Christmas Eve.

    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...in a house with children.

    A Gingerbread House

    Monday, December 22, 2014

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    With one child in high school and one in elementary, finding time to enjoy fun activities together is a delicate balancing act. The older they get, the more difficult it is. We want our children to go out with their friends when they have the time, but it's important that Madeline and Jackson have their time together as well. Easier said than done, of course. One has homework and sports into the evening, the other has little to none, and I can only do so much. The last day of school before Christmas break provided a perfect opportunity to get both of them to sit down and have some messy fun. They were going to assemble and decorate a gingerbread house.

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    Jackson waited impatiently all afternoon for Madeline's dismisal from school. He did his best not to get into the box containing all the yummy goodies, and instead used precious puppy dog eyes to try and convince me to open it for him. What a stinker!

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    Once she was home, they were both excited to design~and eat~their way through the assembly process. From mixing the royal icing colors together and discussing gumdrop patterns it turned into a real gingerbread fest. It was omplete with food-dye stains on fingers, clothes covered with icing, and a few missing peppermints. Hmmm...I wonder who ate them. I think I spy two suspects!

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    I hope you're all enjoying your holiday time together. My parents touched down in L.A. last night and we are off for a day of fun and catching up. Merry merry, y'all!

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    A Mother-Daughter Christmas

    Sunday, December 21, 2014

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    One of the things I continue to be thankful for are my daughter's friends. Even though they're a pretty diverse group, they're all very focused, hard-working, and incredibly sweet. Yesterday, one of the girls and her mother hosted a wonderful Mother-Daughter Christmas party. It was a what everyone needed after the end of the year craziness: good friends, delicious treats, and Christmas fun. While the mothers chatted over mimosa's, delicious hot apple cider, and oogled the hot chocolate bar, the girls personalized hot chocolate mugs and were given the most adorable hot chocolate snowmen to go with them. Then they played with holiday accessories.

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    But the best part, in my opinion, happened when we all sat down in the great room. We had our food, we had our girls, and we had each brought a gift or two so we could play White Elephant. This will sounds crazy, but we'd never played before. My husband has, my friends have, but Madeline and I were total novices. Thankfully, we had no trouble finding a silly item (a desktop drum set covered in red glitter). The laughs were plenty and though we had to encourage the girls to take items from one another, eventually they got over it and began grabbing like pros. It was hilarious! Madeline ended up with a tea pot and caddy, which was just perfect for her, and everyone seemed happy with their White Elephant loot.

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    The afternoon was over far too soon, but it really filled us with the spirit of the season. When surrounded by good friends in the comfort of a warm, welcoming home, how could we not? Thank you Karen and Anna for being such wonderful hostesses. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and wish all of you the best during Christmastime and beyond. Madeline and I are thankful for the gift of your friendship! Merry Christmas and thanks again for a lovely afternoon.

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