eliza says, vol. 4

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Ah, how do I keep up with this girl!? There are just too many great tidbits of Eliza, and I just don't know how to write it all down. I started recording "conversations with Eliza" - which I love - but, they take too long to upload and edit. How do all you parents record your littles? I want to remember everything!

She loves to dance. She loves to jump. She loves to be a helper, and has declared herself a "big girl."

Eliza says, vol. 4:

stories- Eliza asks me to tell her stories sometimes. They always start the same, "Once upon a time their was a little girl named... Eliza." And then I make up a story about Eliza and all of her friends and family. Or, I tell the story of our day. Or, she will request a story about a particular person. it's one of my favorite things we do.

"ABCs" "1-10"- Any time she sees letters, she exclaims "ABCs!!" And then, she "reads" the words by pointing her little finger at each letter and saying, "A, B, C, B, A, A, C, B..." She also loves counting. I didn't even know she could count, and then one day she is singing "1, 2, 3..." all the way to 10!" Ah! That sounds like such a big kid thing, it kills me. 

"I dood it"- The most common phrase in our house. "No, I dood it!" She wants to do everything by herself, and so everything takes ten times longer than it's supposed to. But, it's worth it because after all her tiny grunts, with a scrunched nose and furrowed brow, comes the biggest, brightest smile and "I DID IT!"

"let me go!"- I don't know where this came from. Maybe a movie or something? But, she says it all the time- when I try and smother her with hugs, or when I'm trying to get her to take a bath. One time I overheard her playing with her toys, and through the chatting and yelling, I hear "No! Let me go!" Sometimes it's really embarrassing... Like, when I'm in a parking lot and I'm forcing her to hold my hand and she's wiggling around yelling "Let me go! Let me go!" I swear she's mine!

"Eliza Baby" and "Sage-y Baby"- Eliza's best friend Sage gave her a little baby doll for her birthday. It's actually a smaller version of her other baby doll. And she LOVES both of them so much. She now has to have both of her babies all the time. They are "best friends" and they give each other hugs. She softly kisses their head and tucks them into beds she makes out of pieces of felt and laundry baskets. Her first baby, she named "Eliza Baby." And her second baby was named, "Sage-y Baby." Sometimes we get home late at night from a drive, and she's dead asleep when we put her in her crib. She will roll over, clutching Eliza Baby- and as we are about to close her bedroom door we hear a sleepy, "Sage-y Baby?"

"own baby" (one baby)- Whenever we go somewhere, Eliza is now allowed to bring one baby in the car to sit with her. She started copying my serious tone when I would look at her armful of toys and say, "You can bring ONE baby." So, now when we are getting ready to go out she will look at me all serious, stick out her fingers, and say "OWN baby?"

"Ok?"- She also copies my tone when I say something like, "We need to eat lunch first, Ok?" So, now she finishes many of her sentences with, "Ok?" I laugh every time she says it. Some of her favorites are, "No run or get owies, ok?" or "Be soft or will break, ok?"

"oopsie daisy"- I guess I must say this. Who knew? She will drop a blueberry on the ground and daintily say, "Oopsie, daisy."

"Oh, Papa fix it."- Whenever something breaks or is found broken or out of place, Eliza gets very concerned. She really likes things to be just so. So, I will assure "It's broken, but it's ok!" And she will say, "Oh... Papa fix it." And, after this confident declaration of relief, she will go about her business. I love that she says this, because I love to see that assured look on her face that Papa can make anything better. (But, I also love to tell her that Mama can fix it, too! :)

We took these pictures on a beach day recently, where Eliza was happily running around in her ruffle swimsuit jumping off of logs and playing in the sand and water with her friends. It was a happy day. And, here's a paparazzi picture of this sassy girl...


grandad's visit, part 4.

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On our last day together, we made the big drive down to Big Sure. We figured, he's here so we might as well do it! I've been wanting to take my dad since the last time we went because I knew he would be blown away. And he was!

We made all of our favorite stops, and somehow smashed in a lot in just one day. We stopped at our favorite bakery in Monterey Bay, stopped at the Bixby Bridge, ate lunch at Nepenthe, saw the beautiful McWay Waterfall, and took a walk at Point Lobos. Nothing beats those shades of blue waters, rocky cliffs, and sweeping views. We even got to watch the Golden Gate Warriors win the Championship while eating pizza and gelato in Monterey on our way back home. 

Our house always feels a little empty when visitors go home, and Eliza has been asking for Grandad for days now. She's added Grandad into the mix whenever she's happy, "Yuv you, Grandad!" or when she's sad, "Mama, Papa, Grandad, Mama, Papa, Grandad!" Or, when she's just mad at me, in general "No Mama! Grandad go!?" She loves him. We miss you, Daddy!

grandad's visit, part 3.

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On Saturday we took my dad out to Tomales Bay, where we grilled fresh oysters and bratwurst. That place has become really popular, so it's a much different experience than we first started going. But luckily, they have a good system of dealing with the crowds and still making it a fun place to be. We ate so much food, I thought I was going to pop. 

We also had a Berkeley day all about Eliza, where we took her on the Steam Train and Carousel in Tilden Park. My dad said the train was one of his favorite things we did. Mostly because he got to sit across the way from Eliza and watch her face. Eliza has a huge range of emotions, and you can see her spaz out from excitement at the drop of a hat. But, when she is seeing new things she get's really serious and her eyes get really big while she takes in every single detail. It's kind of funny to watch.

She is really into dressing up lately, and I'm always finding new things to add to her "dress up box." It's also her favorite thing to do when people are around. She drags the box into the living room and carefully selects an outfit for herself, and sometimes for everyone who is present. Then, she usually dance around and puts in her show. She also loves setting up tea parties with her plastic tea set and her plush cupcakes. I was in mama heaven watching these two have a tea party together. 

Sam and I took my dad to a Giants game one night, where we had our first strike out on food. We were meeting Sam at the stadium, so my dad and I left early enough to grab food on the way. As we were walking to the stadium, we didn't see any good places to eat and ended up stopping at an over-priced grocer where we ate tofu noodle salad and wraps. Tofu! Only to find out that one block away were bacon-wrapped hot dog stands and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was seriously laughable- like Seinfeld standards.

We started a tradition of going on a daddy-daughter date every time we visit each other. This time I took him on a walk up at Inspiration Point on Orinda, where the wind threatened to knock us over- but the views were beautiful. We see each other a couple of times a year, and talk on the phone weekly. But, there's something about being one-on-one that is so important to me. It's just nice to talk without distractions. It's weird to think that I have lived away from home for almost a decade. I've been an "adult" for ten years, a wife for five, and a mother for two. So, these rare moments when I can just be a daughter are pretty special. 

After our walk we went to Elmwood and split a sandwich and polenta at Summer Kitchen. Since it was nearing closing time, they were throwing food and drinks at us for free. Then, of course, I had to take him to Ici to get a cone. This is my favorite ice cream in the Bay, and it never disappoints. We walked around as it started to get dark, each with a cone of Vanilla  Almond Cherry. 

grandad's visit, part 2.

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When I was little, our family took a huge road trip to the West Coast. We drove from San Antonio to San Francisco, and hit everything along the way. It was our biggest family trip, and even though I was only eight or so, I have some vivid memories of The Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Disneyland, and the Bay Area. 

Chinatown was one of my favorite places we saw in San Francisco. I just remember it was really colorful, and we ate some really good food. So, I took my Dad into the city to spend the afternoon in Chinatown. We did some shopping, and he bought the grandbabies cute souvenirs- Eliza went home with a little purse and one of those solar-powered cats that waves at you, that you can't help but smile at. We spent some time in The Wok Shop where my dad picked out some beautiful bowls with delicately painted designs in blue. And, we even ate lunch at the same restaurant that we ate at as a family two decades ago. 

I took him to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, too. My dad always bring a fortune cookie to Lucy or Eliza when they see him. It's his thing, and they love it. The Factory is a hole-in-the-wall place down a random alley in Chinatown, where you can pay 50 cents to take a picture of these old women sitting in front of machines that spit out batter, flatten and bake them in disks, before they are folded by hand and filled with a fortune while they are still warm. They sell fresh fortune cookies, or you can make them on the spot. My dad got to write his own fortunes for the girls, and have them filled and sealed. 

On another day we drove out to Tiburon to take the ferry out to Angel Island. I have been wanting to go here for a long time. Angel Island is a State Park, that used to be about a million other things- military forts, US Quarantine facilities, and Immigration Detentions. The ferry ride was beautiful, and we took a bumpy tram around the island with an audio tour. It was a great way to see the whole island in a short period of time, and to learn a lot of great history. And, you get some amazing views of the Bay in every direction. There's also a really good cafe to eat at, hiking and biking trails, and a pretty, little beach. 

Is it just me, or does Eliza look really old in these pictures? It's because she is. She warmed up to my dad within a day, and was so patient during all of our excursions. She had a blast! It was one of the first visits where I felt like we weren't just dragging her along, she was really enjoying everything and asking so many questions. She is such a curious thing, and really loves seeing new things.

grandad's visit, part 1.

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My dad came to visit us, and we took so many pictures and had so much fun that I had to turn this post into a series! I've said it before, but my dad is really the best visitor you can imagine. He is super low-maintenance, and so easy to please! He really makes me feel like every single thing we do is the coolest thing ever. I love having him over, no matter where we live, because it's fun to see my home through his eyes. 

Besides the fact that Sam and I were battling colds for the majority of the visit, it was a superb stay-cation. We got to do a lot of things we have had on our Bay Area list, that have never gotten around to. One of them being, Muir Woods! I know, right? Why haven't we been there before? Well, I did visit them on a high school field trip years ago, and we have driven by them many, many times on our way to Stinson Beach. But, on this day, we picked up Sam in the city on our way out and hit the woods a few hours before they closed.

Gosh, I feel so lucky to live close to such a beautiful place. Redwood trees are absolutely more than you can imagine. The trail we took was a perfect, flat loop- just right for visitors. And, beautifully calm and peaceful. The trees gave you vertigo if you let your gaze follow to the top canopies, and the forest floor was carpeted in the most vibrant greens- clover and ferns that danced slightly if their was a breeze.

The day before our Muir Woods excursion, I took my dad on a few of my favorite Berkeley walks (that involve some of my favorite eateries):

1) Park on Hopkins near King School (let Eliza play on the playground), then take a walk down the tree-lined street to Monterey Market to pick up some fresh produce (we grabbed ripe cherries and strawberries). Then, walk back up Hopkins to grab a slice of pizza at Gioia Pizzeria,  too.  Don't forget a cookie from Hopkins Street Bakery, or some fancy chocolate from Country Cheese Market.

2) Three blocks from our house is "Fourth Street" which houses some of the finer stores in Berkeley. Eliza and I window shop here on a weekly basis, so much so that some of the employees know us and like to comment on how big she is getting. Which is cute and fun, except I think they also know that I never really buy anything! But, I have been known to make careful selections in the beautiful paper shops, and I stalk the furniture in the C&B outlet like it's my job. And, of course, I never leave without looking in at the Anthropologie sale selections, and our window shopping loop always ends at The Ark so Eliza can play with the display toys. But, the real gem of Fourth Street is The Pasta Shop- do not leave here without trying at least a bit of something. The pastries are amazing, the salads are incredible, and once I had a piece of polenta pizza that I refused to share with Eliza. My dad and I got a ham and cheese roll, a biscuit, and a cookie to split with E. 

uncles visit.

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A few weeks ago, the two youngest Gray brothers came out to the Bay to visit us! Anthony just left for the Lubbock, TX Mission for our church, and we won't be seeing him for two whole years. So, it was fun to have one last weekend with these guys together. We are so proud of him, and look forward to hearing about all the good work he does. 

It's crazy to think that Eliza will be four years old when he comes home! She was in uncle heaven with these boys here. They give her so much attention, and she was eating it up. We took them into the city for a day and went on a hike out to Stinson Beach on another day. They were even here for Eliza's birthday party, and her subsequent toddler-birthday-hangover the next day, which is why she looks so sleepy in most of these pictures! Their trip "coincidently" landed on the weekend that the A's played the Red Sox, so I go to witness some little, boy baseball dreams come true as we sat just behind the Sox bullpen all night.

Since Anthony and Aaron are the youngest, I feel like we've always had a fun relationship. I've never had brothers, let alone younger brothers- and Aaron and Bones are the quintessential "younger brothers." We tease each other, and geek out about Harry Potter knowledge. These boys are the best. I always joke that their future wives are really in for it, because by the time they come around there will be a lot of people they need to impress!

Miss you boys already!