Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little Birdie Sip & See

Back in October, one of my very best friends had an adorable baby boy. Since this was her 2nd child she opted to have a Sip & See after he was born, rather than a full blown baby shower. So a couple of weeks ago we had a simple, small gathering to see the baby and share some gifts with her. I chose a simple theme that was not too over the top and yet was appropriate to the occasion. 'Welcome to the Nest' with little birdie touches was a sweet simple theme. Here are some photos from the morning soiree.

Me with my BFF and her sweet baby!

He slept through most of the shower and when he was awake he was a perfect angel!

Cute birdie cupcakes. Baby boy has an older sister, so that is why the other birdie is pink! The cupcakes were lemon and vanilla, with coconut frosting.
Got them at Cupcakes Couture in Manhattan Beach

We had a lovely spread of quiches, bagels, berries, and blueberry or blood orange mimosas!

Simple little favors were miniature soaps and the box read "The nest egg"

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Oireachtas 2011

If you are not familiar with the world of Irish Step Dance then you might have no idea what the term Oireachtas is. I just learned this year myself. It is the regional Irish Dance Championships, and this year the western region competition was held in Anaheim, CA. Sarah has been doing Irish dance since the spring of 2010 (Age 6), but didn't get really serious about it until we moved out here in January of 2011. We found a great school in our area. It is the Kelly School of Traditional Irish Dance located in El Segundo. By June, Sarah had competed in her first Feis and has quickly moved up in the levels of competition.

Kelly School pin

Basically you start out as Beginner 1 in 4 soft shoe dances and 3 hard shoe dances. As you place in the top 3 you can move on up to Beginner 2. From there, you have to place in the top 2 to move to novice level. At present, Sarah is novice level in 3 soft shoe dances and 1 hard shoe dance. The next step after novice would be prize winner level and then champion levels from there on. So she has been doing quite well pretty fast!

So every November, kids compete at the Oireachtas. For kids that are 10 and up this is a HUGE deal, because if they place well (it varies on how many are in their competition), they can qualify to go to the World Championships!! This is typically the only way to qualify. I believe you can at the National competition, but that takes place after Worlds. This year the World Championships are in Belfast, Northern Ireland in April.

Sarah got to compete in her first Oireachtas this year, which was a big accomplishment. Teachers get to hand pick you they think should compete. (I could not register Sarah myself, the teacher decides). Sarah was picked to compete in the Traditional set competition which is a beginning level competition. Dancers in this competition cannot qualify for Worlds regardless of age. They have to compete at the champion level. Sarah had 22 in her competition and she placed 6th!! We were so proud. She danced the St. Patrick's Day dance beautifully!

Sarah also got to compete on a Ceili Team. They danced the High Cauled Cap traditional dance and Sarah's team did well. They had 10 teams in their group and they placed 8th. They had hoped for higher, but they were a young team and had not been practicing for very long. This was their first time doing the dance at a competition, too, so there was probably a little bit of nerves at play. She had fun doing it, though!

Sarah and her teacher, Ms. Kelly

So Sarah's upcoming goals: She wants to place in the novice level in her remaining dances at the next Feis in Indian Wells next week. We have ordered her a solo dress from Ireland and I promised her she could have it once she reached novice level completely! The dress is not here yet and we cannot wait to see it. Once the kids reach novice level, they can forgo the school uniform and wear the sparkly costume!

Next goal: To work hard this year, go to as many Feis' as we can, and by next Oireachtas get to compete at the championship level. Her big goal would be to recall at Oireachtas (which means to be a finalist), so we will see. There could be up to 80-100 girls in her competition next year, so that would be quite the accomplishment. What awesome practice and experience to have for the next few years leading up to being able to qualify for Worlds! The biggest of all dreams!

To learn more about this little world of Irish Dance I highly recommend watching the documentary called JIG. It is the story of different kids competing at the 40th anniversary of the World Championships. Awesome dancing and it explains a lot about what life is like being an Irish dancer and a parent of one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011- San Antonio

We had a wonderful week in San Antonio visiting my dad and step mom. Opa and Myrtle as my kids call them! We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with yummy food, LOTS of football (thank the lord the Cowboys won), a beautiful day, and many blessings to be thankful for. Here are some photos from the week!

Mi Tierra Mexican restaurant. This is how it looks 365 days a year. So much fun! A usual hang out for us. Great food, drinks, music, atmosphere, and Mexican bakery! Go HERE to check it out!

The day after Thanksgiving we spent the afternoon in Gruene (pronounced Green), TX. It is just north of New Braunfels and is a great little, picturesque town. Great antique shopping, food, and I noticed a rather cute honky tonk there too! Gruene is located right on the river, so in the summer I imagine that is a hot spot.

We had dinner at the Gristmill that over looks the river. Go HERE to see more. Very pretty place with great food!

The girls even enjoyed a little cookie decorating with Opa & Myrtle

One last shot before I leave sweet pilgrim!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Once again it is Thanksgiving and I am so thankful for so many things. It is almost too many to list. We are in San Antonio with my dad and step mom. So right off the bat I am thankful for family and the fact that I am not the one cooking the turkey this year! It sure does smell good and I did not have to get up at 6am to do it!

But in all seriousness, I am thankful for my family, my sweet, darling girls, my wonderful husband, the health of my family, the perfectly beautiful day today and the feast we are about to eat. I am so thankful for all of our friends, old and new. We are thankful for the beautiful place in Hermosa Beach that we now call home. We are truly blessed and are reminded every night when the gorgeous sunset melts into the Pacific and we are listening to the lullaby of the ocean waves. Even though there are people we miss and wish were here with us, I am thankful to have had them in my life and and thankful for the many memories. I am thankful for the wonderful country we live in and the life I was born into. I am so glad we have a holiday in which we spend the day reflecting on our blessings and not what we don't have. In addition to the meal, the football, the parades, is truly a wonderful day that everyone, every human being, can partake in and be a part of. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

La mia Italia: Vernazza & Monterosso

My mother-in-law told me this morning about how there had been horrible flooding and mudslides in Cinque Terre (specifically Vernazza and Monterosso). So I quickly went online and googled Vernazza flood 2011 and this is what I found:


Unbelievable. This actually happened on October 25th. I can't believe this is the first I had heard of it. This was a gorgeous spot in the beautiful Italian Riviera. We were there in 2007 and just loved it. We actually had stayed in Riomaggiore, but Vernazza was every one's favorite of the 5 hillside towns. Here is what it looked like on our trip.

Sarah being a pouty baby sitting water's edge.

You can go HERE (SAVE VERNAZZA) to help with the clean-up and rebuilding effort.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween Recap 2011

We had a great first Halloween in Hermosa this year. My little angels were, well, actually and angel and an angelfish. We had some friends over for dinner and then went down to the walk streets for 'trick-or-treating'. It was quite the scene and I was very happy to see that the residents really do participate and make it fun for the kids. After 3 walk streets their buckets were full and they were ready to come home and survey the damage.

Leading up to the big day, Lauren had her harvest festival at her school, Sarah had a Halloween carnival at her school and she had a Pippi Longstocking Day on Halloween. We also did a little pumpkin shopping to pick out the perfect pumpkin to carve for the annual McDonald Family Pumpkin Carving Contest. We used Facetime to be a part of the action and it was quite fun!

We ended our Halloween week, with a broken arm for Sarah (scooter accident) and new glasses for Lauren!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Times in Southern California

At the end of September we had the luxury of having a 4 day weekend. I am not sure if it was because it was a Jewish holiday, or just a couple of furlough days the school had to fit in, but we had a blast with our time off. On the Thursday, a friend of mine and I decided to take the girls to Disneyland. We surprised them, of course, because it is so much more fun that way! My friend and I have 7 year-olds that are BFF's and we have younger girls that are only about a year apart, so it is nice to get together and hang out. Moms are happy and girls are happy! I am very lucky to have made such a good friend and gotten to know this woman in my area and I am even more lucky that our kids love each other!

So here are some pics from that fun day! Disney was all decked out for Fall and Halloween, so extra fun for the kiddos!

On Friday, I decided to take Sarah and Lauren to the American Girl Place at The Grove in LA. This is a fall tradition for us. We love to go have a girls day having lunch in the bistro/cafe and then doing a little shopping. In addition, it gives me a chance to find out what is good for their Santa list this Christmas! Since Lauren's birthday was a couple of weeks from when we went, I let her pick out her first real American Girl Doll to replace her Bitty Baby. She picked the Kanani doll and loves her very much! What a wonderful day with my girls! I just love them!

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