June 14th, 2019

California Niece :)

Sorry for basically skipping a week on this blog.
It was a very busy week and I didn't have a lot of time for this.

If you follow me on facebook you've probably seen all the pictures. I flew out to California to visit my neice Elliotte! She is about two months old and is super cute!

Now remember that I am the oldest of three sisters and a brother. I do have some experience changing diapers, burping, warming bottles, etc.
But then again, my siblings are all grown up and it has been a LONG time since I've interacted with any babies. So I was pretty nervous to hold little Elliotte for the first time! Kayle laughed at me because I was so stiff and awkward! But over the course of the week I got a little better at it.

The main purpose of the visit was to meet Elliotte, but I got to spend time with Kayle and Skylar as well, and help out a little where I could.
The first night of my stay overlapped with my sister Kate's visit, so that was really nice! We had an awesome seafood meal together. I felt a little like a 5th wheel since Kate and Kayle had their husbands Pat and Skylar, but hey, Elliotte was my date ;D It was great to see everyone and catch up a little!

Some activities during the week included a food truck festival and a hike at Rancho Palos Verdes. The food truck festival was a lot of fun, though it was very crowded! Hipsters everywhere lol!! There were so many kinds of food, I had serious trouble deciding what to eat! Despite all of my fancy food pictures, I don't typically eat that much in one sitting. I ended up settling on some bao, because it's one of my favorite foods and also why not compare CA Bao to Florida's King Bao!! I love them both! We got katsu chicken and korean brisket :)

Later on Kayle got a huge delicious sushi burrito and I stole a few bites of that, while Skylar enjoyed a fried chicken sandwich on a doughnut (doing it RIGHT). I knew we were getting ice cream later and decided that today, dessert was my dinner!! We had churro ice cream! Each of us got a different flavor: Kayle had Fruity Pebbles, Skylar had salted caramel peanut, and I had Nutella. The ice cream was pretty basic but the churros were delicious! These were fun to eat and a great way to end the night :)

The hike the next day in Rancho Palos Verdes was awesome. California weather is SO PERFECT. I'm jealous! I would love to go for hikes in Florida, but it's always so gross out, plus we live in a pretty unsafe neighborhood so it's not a good idea to go for walks after a certain time. We followed one of the shorter trails and enjoyed some stunning vantage points of the beach and town below.

Along the trail we encountered many types of wildlife, including an assortment of beautiful plants and flowers, bugs, birds, and reptiles! Skylar brought binoculars so that we could see some of the birds better, but we ended up not using them mostly because of all the other stuff in plain sight!

Skylar managed to catch this lizard! I found out later it's a Western Fence Lizard or "blue belly", so named for obvious reasons. These lizards eat ticks and are an important part of the local ecosystem. They can also change color from tan to black in order to regulate their body temperature. Not to mention their cool blue coloring!

Near the end of our hike we were getting pretty hot and tired...Kayle carried the baby the whole way! We found a shaded rock wall and decided to take a short break there. Well, the break ended up being even shorter than expected because as soon as we arrived a HUGE snake popped out of the wall!! Kayle has a phobia of snakes and ran screaming, Skylar close on her heels. I couldn't help it, I had to stick around and get some footage! The snake had to be at least five feet long, maybe six, and was scaling the rock like it was a staircase. It was very cool to see. I took a close look at its head and patterning and decided that it was likely not poisonous, neither was it showing threatened/fearful body language, so I thought, why not get a little closer and check him out!
On the way back to the car Skylar and I did some research and decided that this was probably either a plain garter snake or a gopher snake. After asking a local California herpetology group on facebook, we found out we were right, it was a gopher snake! They are nonvenomous and have a gentle, easygoing temperment (if I had known that I might have tried to touch it, but better safe than sorry!). One cool thing about this snake is that when it feels threatened, it can flatten its head and body to mimic a rattlesnake, and will even hiss loudly and try to rattle its tail (despite not having a rattle lol). I know Kayle hates snakes and all, but I love to come across wildlife and was really happy that I got to see such a beautiful animal up close! <3

Anyway, it was a very fun experience and I'm glad we did it!

Throughout the rest of the week I got to help out with some doctor appointments for both Kayle and the baby. Babies are super demanding, and I was regularly amazed at what a massive time investment it was for Kayle to go about a "regular" day with Elliotte in tow. It really made me rethink such simple things as going to the bathroom, getting groceries, or cleaning up. For a mother to do these things all by herself while caring for a baby is frankly astounding. I have a new respect for all mothers out there, and especially single mothers who cannot rely on a helping hand. You rock, ladies.

Twice during the visit, I was allowed to have Elliotte more or less to myself. Once was during Kayle's dentist visit, I took her to the boardwalk in her stroller. She was very well behaved, cooing at passers-by and staring at everything. But after a while I think she wanted to nap, and it was way too loud outside for her to fall asleep. I bought her about 10 minutes of rest by standing under an industrial fan outside a pizza place, which was loud enough white noise to drown out other sounds. But it didn't last, and unfortunately I had to bring her back to Kayle crying her head off! Babies! I tell ya ;)

The second time it was myself and Skylar alone with Elliotte for about six hours while Kayle went to work to prepare her classroom for next year. I braced myself for a day of crying, but apparently having Daddy around is enough! Elliotte was extremely well behaved for us, although she didn't nap as much as she should have. We had a nice long playtime, a good walk, and several feedings. I enjoyed this one-on-one time a lot :) And Kayle got me a special Auntiesaurus shirt which I reserved specifically for this day!

This might be an odd thing to say, but if you are from a broken family like ours I think you might understand where I'm coming from.
Kayle and I are not related by blood. Technically, I am not an "auntie" at all. Kayle has no obligation to include me in Elliotte's life as an actual relative. This fact has crossed my mind several times, and even while staying with Kayle I didn't have the balls to bring it up or ask about how she felt about it. But I think this shirt, and having her call me "Auntie Megan", told me all I need to know. I am really, really grateful that we are really, really family. Kayle would probably be annoyed that I even had these thoughts. And that's how you can tell we really are sisters :)

Anyway, a few more highlights of the week included learning a new train-based game that's kind of similar to Monopoly and a lot of fun! We also got to skype with our parents, who have learned how to use Portal filters to hilarious effect. We cooked several meals together, watched Chernobyl, had some great talks, and went out for shabu shabu (Elliotte was extremely cranky and poor Kayle had to spend almost the entire time outside the restaurant with her. Again, mothers are AMAZING.)

I had an absolutely wonderful time visiting Kayle, Elliotte, and Skylar. Having grown up alongside Kayle, I am completely in awe of the amazing woman and mother she has turned out to be. I hope that as Elliotte continues to grow and become her own person, that I can spend time with her and experience life through her eyes. Big thanks to Skylar and Kayle and little Elliotte for a wonderful week!!

On Thursday I flew back to Orlando. While I have been away, Jameson has been EXTREMELY busy. Not only has he had overnight rehearsals with Disney for the Mix Tape Live band, he has also been selling his apartment!! There were quite a lot of viewings while I was away, and several offers were made. Jameson has accepted an offer that's slightly above the listed price (yay!) and he has also put in an offer on a house in Kissimmee! He was so excited that he called to tell me about it (he almost never calls anyone unless he has to haha).

Long story short, we may be moving as early as mid-July!!! Into a REAL HOUSE!!!!

I won't share the details until things are finalized, but we are both very excited!!

Now that I am back, I will be spending time each day preparing for the move. But we are still waiting on the home inspections, so I've got a few days to get settled back in. Today I'm catching up on a lot of things and preparing to go back to work. Jameson has already left for opening day at Epcot. I am doing laundry, getting groceries, taking the car for an oil change, making a dentist appointment, and doing all the stuff one typically has to do when they've been away from home for a while. It feels nice :)