Bye Bye Baby

Every day Lucy seems to understand more and more of what we're saying. When I say "sit down" she'll sit. When we get her dressed or put on her shoes, she knows what to do. When I say "bye bye", she leaves the room (I guess we need to work on that one a little more). And to show how sophisticated she is.....she's done drinking from a bottle! It's officially been 5 days of only drinking from a cup and it wasn't even a big deal.
I've tried in the past to get her to switch over and she kept wanting a bottle. Then last week I decided, this was it. It was time. And well, she just did it. So no more baby! No more bottles. It's fun to see our little girl growing up. If only she would give up her pacifier and little rag. Baby steps, I guess.

Here are some pics in her "I'm growing up" repertoire.
She likes to play with her dollhouse and Little People. Mostly she just puts them in and out of the car and presses all the noisy buttons.
She likes to give "High 5" and thinks it's pretty funny.
She sometimes lays on the ground to watch TV (still holding her rag and pacifer, of course).
She loves drinking Casey's soda. Today we got In-N-Out and decided to eat it in a near-by neighborhood by the Ritz Cartlon. We laughed thinking, oh we will never live in a neighborhood like this.....unless it's in Oklahoma (of course you can't see any of the nice homes in the shot....they're all guarded by large bushes).
But back to Lucy... here she is drinking from the straw. It starts with a wide open mouth.
Then eventually she'll take a small sip.
She loves it and always wants more!
She eats fries too. We're raising her properly. Rootbeer and fries.
And lastly, she has a sense of humor. She was watching Sesame Street yesterday and out of the blue, she started laughing at something on the show...a little furry mouse puppet. It was a genuine laugh. She really thought it was funny. Then later in the day, she was watching the same episode again (it was a long day) and I heard her laughing. I looked over and she was laughing at the exact same part again. For some reason, she found that mouse to be really funny. Here's her cute little laugh:

And that's our Lucy! Bye Bye baby. Hello 17 months old.


More Christian Bale, please

On Saturday, Casey and I saw the new Werner Herzog film, Rescue Dawn and it was fabulous. For some reason no matter how many war movies I watch, I always find them intriguing....maybe because it's something I'll never experience first-hand (fighting in combat, that is) or perhaps because they're usually based on real events. I like movies based on real events and real people.
Rescue Dawn takes place in a POW camp in Laos during the Vietnam war. While there are some explosions and "war" footage, most of the film is character driven. And these characters are great. They each have a different conviction to either escape the camp, or stay and wait it out since "the war will be over soon, and they'll let us go". The scenery is so real, the actors believable, and some scenes had me clutching fists and gritting my teeth, wondering what the outcome would be. I haven't felt that in movie since....I can't remember.
Probably the best part of it all, however, is Christian Bale. What an excellent actor. In comparison to Ocean's 11 flimsies who are simply playing themselves in tailored suits, Christian Bale honestly studies and becomes his role. And he shows variety: Batman Begins, The Prestige, Empire of the Sun, Swing Kids, Little Women, Newsies (can you tell I prefer his "lighter" roles). He's done some strange films as well, which I haven't seen. For the film The Machinist, where he plays a heroin addict, he stuck to a crazy diet of one apple and a few cups of coffee a day. From the ads, he looked like skin and bones. I don't condone starving oneself for a role, but yes, he is the type to take his role to heart.
So, to Hollywood I say: More Christian Bale please!

If you're looking for an excellent film that's worth your $10, Rescue Dawn is one to watch.
And if you haven't seen Batman Begins in a while, check it out! We rented it the other night and I was reminded why it is far more interesting than it's Batman predecessors. Of course, watching the Bat Mobile scene left us wanting a little Jimmy Fallon/MTV movie awards spoof. So if you haven't (or have) seen this, please enjoy......great stuff.
"He's flying on rooftops! (he's flying on rooftops!)"


Sunday Billiards

Brinton, my nephew from Texas, is here in Calif for a few weeks and has been dyyyying to get everyone together for a Billiards competition. So this past Sunday at my parents' house, we had a Pool Tournament.
We set-up the bracket with youngest playing oldest....

Liesl vs. Casey: Tough match-up. Casey won.
Brinton vs. Camille: Camille won and Brinton was crushed. How could he be out of his own tournament so soon? Grandma to the rescue (everyone's a winner, right?). She let Brinton back in. We all teased him.
Meredith vs. Dana: Long, boring, drawn-out match. Dana won.
Final game of the first round: Eric vs. Bryan.
Eric was ahead most of the game, then scratched on the 8 ball at the bitter end. Bryan won.

Dana vs. Casey: Casey won.
Brinton vs. Bryan: Bryan also scratched and by default.....Brinton won.

Brinton vs. Casey: Scratching was in the air. By default, Brinton won again!
So there you have it folks. Brinton never had to clear the table AND he was actually out in the first round and won it all! That's the way to set up your tourney.
To top it off...Eric decided to play one more round with Liesl. He again scratched and so she won. I call this picture, The Ultimate Winner and Ultimate Loser (just for the night)
Nice job everyone. Very fun times.
Here are the serious contenders. I like this picture for 2 reasons.
1. I guess I married a walrus?
2. Bryan didn't get the "don't smile" memo
3. Saying "so-and-so didn't get the memo" is so late 80s.
And here are the bystanders. Grandpa and Ava. Both so cute.
And just for fun....
On our drive down that night, we saw this car on the freeway. I think it speaks for itself (except you may not be able to tell...but the brown on the front and end of the car is splattered mud. I guess they took this doozie for a little off-roading??) I'm so glad my camera is always on-hand!


Day in LA

On Friday, my family came up to the LA for the day. The original plan was to go to the LA Zoo, since we have a membership there. But after having lunch at In-N-Out on Harvey...we all decided we just wanted to play at the park instead. So we headed to Griffith Park and spent a couple hours there just having fun!
There was a toy for everyone:
And Lucy really mastered the twisty slide. We helped her a couple times and then she was on her own. She was even sneaking her way past the bigger kids to get on there.
Here she is climbing up....and coming down:

There was a really cool basketball hoop that came out in 3 directions. You never quite knew where the ball would be. This shot of HORSE involved bouncing the ball off Lucy's head. She didn't seem to mind.
What the kids were looking forward to the most, however, was riding the little train that goes around the park (well, in a very small area). It's quite cute and looks like a mini Amtrak.
It took us a while to find the train though, since most of the park is still closed-off from the recent fires. And as we got there, walked up to the station, we saw the last group of people leaving on their ride. The kids watched endlessly as the train went around, hoping that the conductor would come back and decide to go for one more round.
But when he got back to the station he told us that no, that was the last ride. 4:30 is when they close. None of our puppy dog pleading helped. A few kids burst into tears. So my mom thought....well, lets go look at the ponies next door (where they do pony rides). But when we walked over there, the ponies were all put away in the stable! Lauren was in extremely low spirits and just sat by herself sulking.
It was sad, but really funny too.
We made it up to her, though. We drove through the Hollywood Hills and she got a good look at the Hollywood Sign (all she's wanted to do this trip was "go to Hollywood" because that's where all the American Idol kids say they're going.) We got slurpees and ice cream at 7-11. And THEN we checked out Dodger Stadium. Casey and Brinton stayed for the game that night. And Liesl came home with me to spend the night at our place. In the morning we made french toast and watched Shrek.
Fun day in LA!
Glad everyone came up!


Brainy Smurf

Lucy loves to take my sunglasses on and off. What child isn't interested in playing with glasses?
So Casey found a pair of reading glasses on the golf course last week. He popped out the lenses and we decided to make them "Lucy's glasses". This morning, she let us put them on her while eating her breakfast. And she kept them on. It was really funny looking.
So here's our little nerd! Our little Brainy Smurf.

Our little pool

I'd been looking for a little pool for Lucy for the past month and hadn't been able to find one. We tried a variety of stores, except (duh)...Target. I guess I thought they wouldn't carry such cheap trashy pools. But they do! And for only $7.99!
So, we bought one and threw it in the back of Casey's truck.
Lucy used it for the first time today and loved it.
It was like a huge bathtub, which she greatly enjoys.
She spent most of the time splashing and pouring water in and out of these green cups. Of course, she tried to drink the water from the cups too.
She laughed every time she tried to drink from the cup...but mostly she ended up pouring water all over her face.


Rocking Snail

This past Christmas, Grandpa Willard made the most adorable wooden Rocking Snail for Lucy. Her cousin Jackie has one too (it's become a cute Grandpa Willard tradition). Lucy was very unsure of it at Christmas time. But we've been pulling it out this past month and Lucy loves it! Mostly she just wants to climb on and off. The rocking is only secondary enjoyment. We used to hold the Snail steady while she climbed on, but she's now proven that she can get on by herself.
I'm really starting to sense a brave spirit in Lucy. She's never afraid to climb on anything. We caught her standing up on the push bike at Casey's parent's house and she sloooowly started lifting her arms and smiled (as if, "look mom! No hands!") She also tried to stand on their ottoman, but we had to tell her "no". She's very agile. And she wants to do things on her timetable. She may not be talking yet....but she's already our little athlete. She definitely takes after her father. Here's Lucy on the Rocking Snail (I apologize for my loud voice):

two Pigtails

Well, I got her to keep two pigtails in today, for a few hours. (It helped having two distractions to keep her busy while I pulled at her hair...Einstein and brushing her teeth). We finally took the pigtails out so she could take a comfortable nap. But she looked so cute and grownup! Truly a toddler.


Flying for no reason

Casey flew to New York yesterday morning for a very brief business meeting today. Basically, he flew there for a 1-hour meeting. We thought that was silly. Then the client cancelled the meeting this morning, while Casey sat there in the NY office. Now he's on his way home.
All in all, Casey spent 11 hours on a plane and one night in a hotel for no reason at all. The world is silly sometimes.


A Degree in What? (a guest appearance by the man of the house)

I wish I could say that I had gotten my Master’s Degree right after my undergraduate degree at BYU back in 1999. The price I pay now is: missing out a couple nights a week hanging out with Dana & Lucy. At least I’ve got the weekends, and I’ve just got to get this degree done now that I’ve started. Better late than never, right? I’d be missing out on even more 2 years from now than I’m missing out now, once more kids are on the way.

People ask me when they hear I’m taking classes “wow, what are you getting your degree in?” “A Masters in Economics,” I tell them. But I’m learning at Cal State LA that it’s a lot more than that. And I’m not talking about the social networking that comes with getting a degree, or learning all the ins & outs of the MTA bus and subway system. I’m talking about the Masters in Paperwork Complications that I’m getting a degree in on the side. So far, I’ve registered for three terms at Cal State LA, and each term has consisted of complications regarding registration, tuition, and even trying to get a cheap student pass for the MTA line. This term I’m trying to add a class that they think I haven’t taken the right prerequisites for – and yes, they do have a copy of my BYU transcript floating around there somewhere. When I got accepted, they somehow gave me two student ID #’s. Last term I tried to add a class that was supposedly full according to the online registration system (even though there were a dozen empty desks in the class!). Just the other day, I received a tuition reimbursement check from the Registrar’s office because they think I’m not registered for a full load this term (because of the late add). I can’t wait to see how difficult it will be to try to return that money. Am I being a whiner about it all? Well, maybe a little. But seriously, 2 years from now when I start putting “MA in Economics” on my resume, part of me hopes that future employers appreciate what it takes to get one of those – not just learning the course material but learning how to navigate the paperwork maze. Was it like this at BYU and I just can’t remember? Or is this school uniquely bad at the administrative stuff? Based on comments from the kids on campus, I think it’s more of the latter. But the teachers have been good so far, and I’ve been learning tons of stuff. And every time I find myself standing in line at one of the registration buildings trying to get approval for a class I’m more than qualified for, I sort of sing Pomp & Circumstance in my head just to keep from giving up and storming home to hang out with the wife & daughter. It’s all gonna pay off, it’s all gonna pay off . . .


It's official

Bye Bye little $.79 burritos.
I finally got ahold of someone at Del Taco Customer Service today. He was very kind, spoke excellent english (that's helpful) and in a hesitant voice told me, "I hate to be the one to break it to you...but we removed that item from our menu two weeks ago."
Blasted. It's true.
He said I'm not the only one who has called to complain, however. And that he would send my name along to Marketing so they are aware of how many people will miss the Small Red (or Green).
AND...he told me that you can still order the small burrito in the children's meal. OR I can pay $.99 for the larger size burrito, but request that they make it a small one (but I have my doubts). Is it worth another $.20? Probably. I'll try it.
If you live in Utah, you may still be able to order it. My cousin Kam said she got one there just the other day. I was jealous.
So there you have it folks. Since companies aren't big on telling the public what they've downsized...Consider this blog the official Press Release from Del Taco to all the Willard Family Del Taco friends.
May you all find new menu items to love.

RIP Small Burrito.

Ponies and Bikes

Lucy has been staying with Grandma and Grandpa Willard this week while I go to work. And she loves being there! She plays with the mini kitchen set, the blocks, the doll stroller, and the little bike outside. She hops on that thing like she's a total pro. Um, I guess she is.
Yesterday before we left for work, I tried putting a ponytail in her hair (since she naturally has a nice mullet going). She didn't like it for the first minute. But then I guess she forgot about it! And she rode around on the bike with her little ponytail intact. I know it's a tiny tail, but it's so cute! Now I need to work on the two little pigtails.

She looks so old to me in this picture


Chocolate all the time, please

I don't crave sugary candy but I LOVE chocolate. Dark Chocolate is preferred and milk is yummy too. I can eat it at any meal. (Did you ever read The Chocolate Touch in 4th Grade? I secretly wish that was me...even if the message is, to stop eating chocolate)

Some select favorites that I love:
- Dove dark chocolate mini squares (the perfect little bite, and they have "thoughts" inside the wrapper.
- Trader Joes dark or milk chocolate chips (good to keep in the fridge for a snack)
- Dairy Queen blizzard: chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cups
- See's Dark Chocolate bordeauxs
- Thrifty's Chocolate Malted Crunch Ice Cream (found at Rite Aid)
- my mom's Brownie Pudding
- any kind of chocolate molten cake
- Chocolate Malt O Meal
- Chocolate, chocolate chip cookies
- chocolate brownies with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles (maybe some mint chip ice cream on top)

Okay, I'll stop.

But the reason for the post....
As kids, we had oatmeal or Cream of Wheat every morning. To make it fun for kids, my mom put a smiley face in our bowl with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. And I loved it! (Maybe that was the craving culprit).
So yesterday for breakfast I made some yummy oatmeal and then dumped 2 squares of Dove chocolate in to get it nice and chocolately. It was quite tasty. But then I discovered something equally as yummy....chocolate granola, made by Bear Naked. It's the most "healthy" chocolate I've ever seen! Bear Naked makes other non-chocolate products too, which I can't vouch for yet. But if you are a chocolate freak too, you should try this out. Not only is the granola chocolate, but there are some scattered chips throughout to give you a nice bite. Look for Bear Naked at your local grocer or Wild Oats. You can also look online and find a store carrier near you (or purchase it on their website).

Let the chocolate continue!


Take Me Out to the Albright Sportsmen

With Casey starting school (and still working full-time) we've realized that our schedules have become quite busy. But you still gotta make time for playing sports, right? Of course!

So once a week, on Tuesday nights, Casey heads to the West Side to play city-league Softball with all the old friends.

They are: The Albright Sportsmen.
The past couple seasons have been rough. But this season, they are 5-4! They may even make the playoffs!
Any way you look at it though, they definitely have the best uniforms in the league. And there's always a stand full of fans (mostly female) to cheer them on. Surprising? Look how cute these guys are...

We stopped in last night for their game and...they won! Woohoo. Lucy had too much fun as the team busy-body, picking up bats, gloves, dirt, whatever. She even tried doing her own pull-ups!

Here's Casey at The Bat:
And more of The Sportsmen (photos compliments of the fabulous Kristen Johnson).

Kevin Ditty's trading card photo is by far our favorite.
Yes, that's a team player. No, it's not a mountain man. Yes, he plays in jeans. Yes, he won 1 vs. 100. Yes, it's Chaz.
And here are some shots of the female fans (after a few attempts at taking this picture, Kristen and I figured this was the best it would get).

Nice job Sportsmen! Hope to see more vicotories from your camp!