No Training Wheels Gabby

March 10th, 2014

Guess what happened 2 months after Coleman learned to ride his bike without training wheels? Gabby learned to ride her bike without training wheels! Santa was one smart cookie when he brought the kids new bikes. Coleman wasn’t too pleased that Gabby picked it up so quickly, but he is still a little more adept than she is. However, she is catching up quick! Watch the video.

Monkeying around after her ride.

Matt Pynch comes to the house on Thursdays to teach the kids karate. Watch the video. I love this for many reasons. One - Matt is one of our best friends, and he has taught our kids how to ski and is now teaching them karate. There is something really special about that that’s difficult to explain. Two - Part of karate is teaching them how to fight a stranger. I appreciate that they are regularly reminded about “stranger danger.” Watch the video of Gabby practicing self defense. Three - They are getting a workout and don’t even know it. Four - They are getting discipline. I am overjoyed to see how much respect they show Matt.

Brian has taken Gabby skiing three times this year. Here is a video. Gabby is lucky that Brian is such a sweet Daddy and doesn’t make her wear Coleman’s old ski clothes.

Is it possible that Gabby goes skiing because she knows she’ll be getting hot chocolate with whipped cream?

Gabby has a school program coming up at the end of March. Here is a video of her talking about her role in the program.

Gabby celebrated Coleman’s 7th birthday in January.

We had a family dinner at the house.

Gabby gives Coleman bunny ears, a trick she learned from Coleman. What goes around, comes around!

Gabby wanted in on Coleman’s birthday play date. She was a bit jealous that Cole had a friend to play with.

Azurde came over for Jillian’s birthday dinner, and Gabby got herself some snuggles.

When Gabby asked if she could get her face painted at Ella’s birthday party, I  had no idea she’d come back as a Dalmatian. I was thinking she’d be a princess, not a dog!

Here she is with her school buddies Remi and Dylan.

Heather and Jillian came over for dinner on a weekend when Brian was out of town. Gabby was happy to hang out with the girls.

Gabby had a great time entertaining her friend Madison at the house. Gabby’s sweatshirt is compliments of Aunt Jillian.

The Jump for Joy Foundation recently had a dance event at Marquee to fight childhood obesity. Brian took Gabby so she could learn some new moves.

Gabby is learning to play the violin, and we made a pact that I’d give her a reward for every 15 30-minute practice sessions. She wanted her first reward to be a manicure/pedicure. She was very patient (a rarity!), waiting about 15 minutes to have her toes done. I am pretty sure she feels that her purple sparkly toes were worth the wait.

The Holidays

January 7th, 2014

My name is Maggie Plaster, and it’s been two months since my last post. So let’s get to it.

Gabby is starting to like the violin more or maybe I should say she doesn’t hate it as much as she did last summer. When I told her the other day that it was time to practice, she said “I hate violin.” And I said in a whiny, sad voice, “Really?” And she said “Just kidding!” Now that’s progress.

Gabby demonstrates that violin can be fun!

Even though I’m a bit biased, I have to say that Gabby is a star in her ballet class. Or at the very least, she has a lot of personality! I think this was a great action shot.

Such strong stomach and back muscles!

I’m afraid the other little girl doesn’t find her that amusing.

Always a ham bone.

One of the kid highlights of my year is watching her do ballet.

This was the first year where Gabby and Coleman were true helpers when it came to setting the Thanksgiving table.

Gabby and Aunt Mari

Gabby, Aunt Jillian and Grandma Wendy

Gabby checks out the gingerbread house from Jaime Martin that arrived early. I say the earlier, the better!

We hiked off some Thanksgiving calories the next day at Lake Mead. Maybe 150 calories, about the number that was in one glass of wine. Ha!

My least favorite part of this hike was making sure Gabby stayed in the middle of the trail so she didn’t fall down the steep edge.

Later that afternoon, the kids tested for their gold belts with Matt Pynch. They do a Korean style of karate called Song Moo Kwan. Watch the video of Gabby doing her kata.

Gabby holds her hands out for her gold belt.

Happiness!

At the beginning of every lesson, Mr. Pynch asks the kids who they are allowed to practice karate on. The answer is always “big guys in my family.” Watch out for the ninjas Pop and Grandpa Richard!

Once they got their gold belts, they went wild.

We did the Santa Run for the first time this year. Gabby ran out of steam early on and was annoyed when Coleman and I ran off while she stayed with Brian. I hope one day that will be motivation for her to keep up! This picture was taken before the run even started.

Gabby performed in her first violin recital. Watch the video of her playing the taka taka ta ka rhythm on her E string. I was so proud of her because this was the best she’d ever played.

She followed along on the program until it was her turn. I couldn’t keep her in her seat after that. The next day I was chastised by their teacher for letting her play around in the back of the room. Guess I’m not getting the violin parent of the year award!

We went to the Binion party again this year, and Gabby had the best time running around and doing whatever she pleased. She pretended to be an ice princess on the sled ice sculpture.

Christmas Eve started off with a few presents. Gabby wanted a prince to go with her princesses. In this case, she got Prince Eric for Ariel.

Her fancy dress was courtesy of Grandma Wendy.

Gabby sat next to Aunt Jillian at Vintner Grill.

When we got to Grandma Wendy’s, it was party time. I’m not sure if it was the cake or the presents that made Gabby so happy.

She wasn’t thrilled about getting clothes at the time, but she loves this dress and wears it a lot.

I thought this shot turned out really well.

Grandma and Grandpa gave her a box of costumes. This particular dress is very glittery. I now have glitter all over my house.

The little princess.

Gabby and Grandpa

Gabby and Coleman were happy with their Santa loot. Check out the video.

Gabby checks out her stocking.

She really loved the keyboard that Pop and Madi bought her. We put it away from the Santa loot so that there was no question about who gave it to them.

Now we need to teach her a song.

Gabby loved the Mickey snow globe she got from Gigi.

Another costume from the costume chest. At least this one isn’t so glittery.

Aunt Mari and Gabby

The next day, Gabby and Coleman painted one of the cardboard houses that Mari and Roy gave them. I hope they never have to live in this one day.

We still have some work to do before I consider it finished.

Right before Paul left for Mississippi, Gabby fell into the couch and busted her lip for the first time.

We went to L.A. for a few days. Coleman and Gabby bonded at Tim’s house.

And on a walk around Brentwood.

The year ended at our house while we watched the Madison Square Garden Phish show on TV. Gabby made sure to get dressed up in the third costume from the costume chest.

2013 was a great year!

Disneyland, Again

November 5th, 2013

Gabby had a great time visiting Disneyland over Nevada Day weekend. I was sad to discover that she no longer cares about the parade. Previously, one of my favorite things to do at Disney was watch her wave to all of the characters. Instead, Gabby now prefers riding rides and eating junk food. Go figure.

Our first ride of the trip was Autopia where the kids got to “drive” their own cars.

I thought it’d be good for Brian to ride with Gabby because he is definitely the one who will teach her how to drive. I’ll teach Coleman!

Gabby got upset about something a while later, and I had to act like Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own. “There’s no crying at Disneyland!”

The next morning Gabby and I rode the merry-go-round while Coleman and Brian rode the roller coaster California Screamin. No screaming necessary on this ride!

Gabby’s first souvenir of the trip was an Izzy doll from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. She made her decision very quickly after entering the huge Disney Store. I made her walk around to look at other stuff just to make sure that Izzy was really what she wanted. At one point Gabby said “Mom, I’m not going to change my mind.” She sounded like a teenager when she said that!

Gabby tried on a Jessie hat after we rode the Buzz Lightyear ride.

We met the Winklers for brunch at Storytellers Cafe. I didn’t expect Gabby’s reaction to hanging out with Coleman’s friends (Anna and Ali). She was jealous that he was paying attention to them and not her! Coleman was very sweet to make sure she was included in the fun.

Gabby posed at a shop in Cars Land.

That night we dressed up for Mickey’s Halloween Bash. Gabby went as a cupcake princess, and I was a Greek Goddess.

Gabby got the wet seat on Splash Mountain. I was so thankful I didn’t get soaked! Gabby didn’t care that she got soaked.

I later caved and let her have cotton candy.

She was cool with sharing.

Then it was nap time.

We stopped by the Mad Tea Party at California Adventure before heading over to Disneyland at 10:00 p.m. Check out this video of Gabby dancing.

We made it to midnight on our last night in Disneyland. When we got back to the room, I fell asleep before the kids did.

In line for one last time on the Cars ride.

While Disney was fun, we will probably take a break for a while. I’m thinking we’ll wait at least two years before we return. We could camp for months for the cost of a 4-day trip to Disney.

Gabby decided to wear a witch costume to school for Halloween rather than her cupcake princess costume. She put on a little show with her classmates, and several poems and songs mentioned witches. I think she felt that being a witch would be more appropriate for the program.

She is always happy being on stage. That is, unless she feels like someone is laughing at her (like the Dad behind me who was laughing when all of the kids were doing the monster wiggle). She wouldn’t dance when she heard that guy laughing.

Beginning School students always go on a parade through the Lower School so they can show K through 5th graders who are the cutest ones of all.

Not thrilled about having to go back to school.

But later she got to eat party food, and she was happy again!

We spent our Halloween evening at Helen and Rachel Martin’s house. They made sure the cupcake princess got to eat a cupcake.

It’s always a good time hanging with Jaime and Rachel.

I am glad Jaime insisted on taking a family photo.

Gabby started taking violin about the time school started again. She hasn’t been thrilled about it, but she’s getting better. She likes her private lessons way better than group class. She told me recently that Bad Gabby comes out in group class, and I joke around with her about what we need to do to make Bad Gabby go away forever. Here Bad Gabby is practicing her bow hold.

Gabby was fortunate to be included in a photo shoot for Diamondcake magazine featuring Nevada Ballet. Wendy, Jillian, Gabby and I took a photo together. Here we are at Jerry Metellus’s studio.

Gabby was thrilled about the prospect of being in a magazine.

Jerry took a few pics of just Gabby. I’m sure taking photos of children who are uninhibited, have a ton of personality and do what you ask of them is much more fun than taking photos of adults. I love this shot.

Gabby also had a photo in the magazine from her dance class. Thank you, NBT!

Check out this video of Gabby dancing to our favorite band Phish covering 2001.

Ballet is on one end of the spectrum, and karate is on the other.

I wouldn’t want to come across her in a dark alley!

Azurde is one of Gabby’s favorite people.

It won’t be long now before Baby Roma is no longer a baby and big enough to play with. Gabby’s hand around Roma’s neck is exactly how Coleman used to hold Gabby for pictures.

Gabby now has homework that involves reading books. I’m thrilled!

Gabby got a beautiful face painting at the city of Las Vegas employee picnic.

Too bad she ruined her face painting from crying when Lucy didn’t win a prize for her French Maid costume.

Gabby got to celebrate Lucy Shulman’s birthday with her and was a hit of the party when she gave Lucy a big hug after we sang happy birthday.

Gabby likes going to Color Me Mine, but she usually only lasts 20 minutes before someone else has to finish her pottery for her. She prefers to walk around and talk to other people or “making friends” as she calls it.

We went on a hike with the Fortunov family a few weeks ago.

Brian chaperoned Gabby’s field trip to Gilcrease Orchard.

Gabby and Ella had a good time. (Gabby’s flushed face is a Bresnahan trait.)

Gabby, Alex and Ella - I have a feeling these kids will be in school together all the way through high school graduation.

Perdido Trip 2013

September 8th, 2013

Every year we go to the South to spend some time with Pop and Madi. For the past two years, we’ve stayed in Perdido, which is a great vacation for three generations staying together in one condo. We spend lots of time on the beach playing in the Gulf and digging holes in the sand, spend time at the pool, hunt for sand crabs at night, play on our devices, work puzzles and pretty much do whatever we want to do. I forgot to mention that we eat and drink like kings too.

Here is a sunset from our condo. Pretty darn amazing.

Here is Gabby’s first day at the beach. I don’t think Brian and I had made it down yet. The kids could have spent the entire day playing in the gulf and sand.

Gabby definitely needed Pop around to lifeguard. She was fearless in the water and would often swim away from the beach alone. We’d yell at her to come back, and thank goodness she obeyed.

Can you tell how much she enjoyed playing in the waves? (Thank you, Madi, for taking all of these great pictures.)

Grandma Wendy bought Gabby this swimsuit. It was my favorite of the summer and is now totally worn out.

Gabby and Coleman both had pretty awesome bed heads each morning. Gabby is wearing her bright pj set from Granny Gigi. Gabby was treated to having her fingernails and toenails painted by Madi, at least twice.

Pop and Madi bought the kids boogie boards. Gabby got the one with the shark because “It’s cool and it’s awesome.” Her favorite part about playing on the boogie board was paddling. I am pretty sure she’s going to be a good athlete. We just have to find the right sport.

While Gabby was very serious about boogie boarding,

her parents were very serious about drinking beer.

Gabby became a mermaid for a little while.

What!? Cone boobs!?

Someone is having fun. Good thing Brian didn’t injure himself.

A guy near us had this Mater radio, and when he started giving kids rides, Gabby got right in line.

Walking with Pop.

Admiring the clear water and hopefully thinking how much fun this trip had been.

Gabby and Pop in one of the three holes we dug on our trip.

Showing off her abs jazz hands style.

We had to take some final pics before leaving for the airport.

Too bad Coleman wouldn’t behave for the only group shot we took with Pop and Madi. Everyone else looks good, though! Thank you Pop and Madi for another great beach trip!

We stopped in Montgomery on the way to the Birmingham airport and had to see the capitol building before going to Martin’s for lunch. It’s not likely we will be back any time soon since Southwest will be flying into Pensacola the next time we go.

The Gonyas had us and some other families over for dinner one night. The kids got to swim and feast on lots of good food, but the most memorable part was the cupcakes.

Jillian braided Gabby’s hair one night after dinner. I believe this was the first time Gabby had a French braid.

Summer Road Trip

July 28th, 2013

We drove 4,343 miles, stayed overnight in seven different locations, camped a total of 15 nights and hiked 65 miles in 22 days. And we survived! It was the most time we had ever spent together as a family, and we are most definitely better for it. Gabby really lived up to her name on the trip. She was very talkative and social. Her most commonly spoken phrases include “Mommy/Daddy, I have to tell you something” and “I had a dream that,” and then she’d make something up. When she starts her sentences with “I had a dream,” I sometimes think of Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech.

One thing I didn’t anticipate on the trip was Gabby making friends wherever she went. She’d run off to other campsites and hang out with kid and adult campers, which meant that Brian or I had to get off our butts and go over and meet them. She met one camper named Sean in Glacier and asked “Do you have a girlfriend?” He said “no.” And then Gabby said “Do you have a boyfriend?” Sean relayed this to us later that night after Gabby was asleep, and we got a good laugh. There  is no telling what she’ll say to complete strangers! I walked by another campsite in Yellowstone where Gabby had gone to visit after dinner around 9:00 p.m., and the grandfather said “We’ll see you tomorrow, Gabby” in the nicest way possible. I was glad to see that she got the hint and didn’t overstay her welcome.

Our first hike of the trip was a 4-mile loop to Taggert Lake in Grant Teton National Park. I thought Gabby could get in the lake without getting her underwear wet. Wrong! She fell down right when it was time to get out. It wasn’t a big deal, though, since I carried her the entire way back to the car.

The kids got along surprisingly well on the trip.

This was the first of maybe 20-30 miles that I carried Gabby on my back during our hikes. I was thankful to be in decent shape. Sometimes she’d complain about being on my back, and I’d tell her she should be THANKING me. I felt like a pack mule.

She always wanted to get down when there were flowers to be picked. Or if we were walking downhill.

This creek was near our campsite in Gros Ventre outside of the park. Brian took up fishing on the trip. I know he enjoys fishing, but I think he also did it to get a little peace and quiet from his family.  This was a time when we joined him. He didn’t catch any fish. Coincidence?

We had the Taj Mahal of tents. The REI Kingdom 8 was very comfy, and I loved being able to stand in the tent.

The next day we hiked Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake. The trail was VERY popular.

The kids never got tired of having their picture taken. In fact, on our next trip, I’m going to let them each have one of my old cameras so they can take pictures themselves.

Cathy Shill from The Hole Hiking Experience took us to Munger Mountain on a hike. Gabby picked lots of flowers, one of her favorite things to do on hikes, which is discouraged in national parks. Luckily, Munger Mountain isn’t a national park.

Cathy brought her butterfly net, and we caught several butterflies and identified them.

Gabby hitched a ride on Brian’s shoulders.

It was a beautiful hike, and we were all entertained. Money well spent!

At the end of the hike, Gabby cut her face with a walking stick she had just found minutes before. She still has a red line on her face, which I’m hoping will fade. After lunch at Betty Rock in Jackson, we headed to String Lake for a swim. At the campsite that night, we counted Gabby’s boo boos. She had 12, most on her legs. It got worse before it got better. She was always falling, but it never slowed her down. We should have nicknamed her Booboolicious after her favorite story character Pinkalicious.

We started off the Fourth of July with a hike up the M overlooking the University of Montana in Missoula.

Gabby did a decent bit of the hike by herself.

After a few hours at Splash Montana, a water park run by the City of Missoula, we went back to Dunrovin Ranch so the kids could do their first pony rides. Gabby was given Clyde to ride.

First she groomed him, and then she learned how to use reins. The person teaching them was named Maggie.

Maggie didn’t usually do the pony lessons so we were surprised when she told the kids they do some cantering. They were giggling and having the best time. On their second run across the field, Gabby fell off her horse. She was a champ and got right back on. It was probably a good experience to put a little fear in her!

After they were done riding, they got to feed the horses. Then we hit two local breweries, went back to the ranch to pack up our stuff and then went to the Southgate Mall around 9:30 p.m. to watch fireworks. It didn’t get dark in Missoula until after 10:00 p.m. We met a family from Colorado who had kids several years older than Coleman. It was a trip watching Gabby and Coleman interact with the kids.

The next morning we drove to Glacier National Park and got one of the last campsites at Apgar. Both Brian and my hearts were racing when we entered the campground because we knew it filled up fast everyday AND it was a holiday weekend. We got very lucky! Gabby often played in the area behind our tent. This is where she picked up the tick we found on her head a few days after we camped there. It’s also where we saw our first bear. I’m glad she wasn’t playing back there when the bear showed up!

Hiking the Avalanche Creek trail to the lake.

And here is the lake. No wonder it was such a crowded hike.

Brian fished while the kids played in the rocks. Gabby loves to get dirty.

The next day we did a remote hike to Trout Lake on a trail with tons of bear poop. It was one time I was very glad to keep Gabby on my back, even though we gained 2,000 feet of elevation over 2 miles. I let her walk on the way down.

The view coming down overlooked Lake McDonald.

I drove the Going to the Sun road the next day while Brian tried not to look down. The road is cut right into a mountain with sheer drop offs right on the other side. It is beautifully scenic but very dangerous. Most of the time, there aren’t even guard rails. Here is Gabby at the visitor center before we set off on our 6 mile hike to Hidden Lake and back.

I actually liked carrying Gabby around on my back. She made up lots of stories for me, which were always entertaining. We wouldn’t have been able to do the hikes we did if I hadn’t carried her.

We saw many mountain goats on this hike.

Gabby got her socks wet right off the bat by jumping into a puddle, so she got to ride on my back barefoot for a while.

Most hikers stop when they get to the overlook of Hidden Lake. We hiked all the way down.

Gabby played in the rocks while Brian fished. We found out a week later that they had closed the trail to the lake because a grizzly bear had camped out and was feeding on fish. We feel fortunate that we were allowed to hike down to the lake AND didn’t run into a grizzly. Gabby’s pose screams “Come eat me grizzly bear!”

On the hike we made friends with Alex and Jenn. Alex was originally from Vegas, and they now live in Seattle. Alex actually carried Gabby some of the way back from the lake and helped her through the snow. As I said earlier, Gabby likes meeting new people!

It was a lot more fun hiking in snow coming down the hill then going up!

Snow angels anyone? At the gym, this exercise is called a superman.

Stampede was going on while we were in Calgary, and since we hadn’t planned ahead and gotten rodeo tickets, we decided to participate by going to the carnival and blowing money on carnival games.

I’m not sure where Gabby got this pose. Maybe Fancy Nancy?

Unfortunately, Gabby wasn’t on her best behavior while we stayed with our college buddy Matt Davis and his wife Carmen. On our second night there, we had cupcakes for dessert. Since we ate dinner pretty late, I only allowed Gabby to have half of a cupcake. She became hysterical. Since I felt somewhat responsible, I got her ready for bed, and it took forever. I remember everyone in the house giving me sympathetic looks. Once I had her in bed and calmed down, I asked if there was anything she or Coleman needed (like water), and she said “Another cupcake.” I said “That’s a good one Gabby.” The next day, she kept asking for the other half of her cupcake. She was very persistent. She finally got it. She usually forgets things pretty quickly, but I guess things are different when cupcakes are involved.

We hiked to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. Couples who play together, stay together!

Our second break a half mile later.

When we finally made it to Moraine Lake, it was windy and cold.

I love Gabby’s expression in this picture. This is the lake where Coleman’s hat blew off, and Brian had to jump in to get it. If our roles were reversed, and I had been there with Coleman while Brian was down the trail with Gabby, I don’t think I would have felt the need to jump in to get Coleman’s hat, no matter how hard he cried. Note the ice IN THE LAKE.

After our hike, we visited Lake Louise.

Note the glacier in the background. We didn’t have time to hike around the lake, but next time we will hike to the tea house.

We hiked Johnston Canyon the next day and saw lots of waterfalls. Brian was very nervous about Gabby’s safety and insisted she hold hands for most of the hike. Look at that face! She wouldn’t do anything crazy, would she?!

Later on Brian went on a bike ride, and Carmen and I took the kids on a boat ride on Lake Minnewanka. I couldn’t even listen to the tour guide because I was trying to get Gabby to behave. When the ride was over, she hopped off the boat and ran down the dock without waiting. I didn’t want to make a scene, but I was scared she’d trip and fall in. Carmen later told me that the tour guide had said that if you fall in the water, you’d be dead in 4 minutes. The lake was that cold. When I finally caught up to her, I pretty much dragged her all of the way to the car. When Brian joined us back at the campsite, I let him deal with her, and she was just as sassy and defiant towards him. We forced her to go to bed early, and she was like a new person the next morning. I guess I hadn’t realized she had really just been tired - a walking zombie. And what zombie does what they are told?

The next day we drove to the Columbia Ice Fields, the farthest point north of our trip - latitude 51 degrees (Anchorage is 60 degrees). I like this picture Brian took of our minivan in front of the glacier. That minivan was a great road trip car.

It was great getting to spend time with Matt and Carmen. I hope Gabby didn’t scare them too much since they’ll be having a girl in a few months!

Conquering the bear!

That night we had dinner in Banff and then had to take a picture in front of this store. Gabby isn’t afraid to be rude!

We left Canada on July 14 and headed to a KOA campground in East Glacier. Then we went on a small hike in Sunrift Gorge. This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

We walked by Saint Mary Lake on the way to a waterfall. Some hikers spotted a bear in the forest, but we didn’t see it.

We had to take a picture at the Glacier sign before embarking on our most ambitious hike - 10 miles round trip to Iceberg Lake.

This picture was taken around mile 8. Note the big waterfall in the background. We were in the home stretch, and that’s when Gabby decided trail running might be fun.

We let the kids take off their shirts when they got overheated.

Nothing beats huckleberry soft serve after a 10-mile hike.

We left for Yellowstone the next day and set up camp at Grant Campground. We saw lots of bison during our stay in Yellowstone.

We hiked through a meadow to Clear Lake and then Ribbon Lake. Up until this point, I thought all glacial lakes were cool, and then I remembered that these weren’t glacial lakes. The kids hated the smell of sulfur from the nearby fumaroles and the lakes just weren’t scenic. It didn’t help that we got lost on the trail and the return trail didn’t list our parking spot as a destination so we were nervous about taking it. We ended up walking 7 miles when we had intended to walk 5. And the mosquitoes and horse flies were really annoying.

After the hike, we stopped at Grant Visitor Center, and Gabby sat down for a lecture that had already begun on bear safety. She raised her hand several times during the lecture to share what she knew about bears. There was no stopping her from talking, so I didn’t even try. I just went inside to talk to a park ranger to avoid getting embarrassed about it. After we got what we needed from the visitor center, we realized that there was a beach on the other side. We let the kids play in the lake for an hour since they had been such good sports about the 7 miles we had hiked earlier.

Our final hike of the trip was up Mount Washburn.

We had great views of Yellowstone in all directions.

I got lots of accolades from fellow hikers for carrying Gabby 3 miles up the mountain.

We spent at least 30 minutes at the top checking out the views and having lunch.

We took a break on some rocks toward the end of the hike. She looks so angelic and well behaved!

Gabby didn’t pick any flowers on this hike because she had learned that you can’t become a junior ranger if you pick flowers. She didn’t earn her badge though because some of the activities were too old for her. She didn’t have the attention span to finish them. When Coleman got his badge, she decided to call him Mr. Junior Ranger. It was pretty darn cute.

The next day we got up at 6:00 a.m. and were on the road before 7:00 a.m. We made it back to Vegas around 6:00 p.m. and gained an hour on the way. And we made it back before the flash floods hit. It was a great trip!

Little Performer

June 6th, 2013

If Gabby proved one thing to us in the past two months, it is that she is a performer, dah-ling. We thought she was the star of her school program (we aren’t biased at all). She had so much personality and really hammed it up for her song and dance numbers.

Here she is reciting her owl poem.

Flapping her wings like an owl.

And singing Happy Trails to You.

Here is a video of her singing Look Around the Prairie. Remember what I said about her being full of personality?

We had a whole crowd there to see Gabby perform. Aunt Jillian came.

As did Gigi, Richard, Dulce and Aunt Mari (pictured below). Grandma Wendy was very sad she missed it, but we sent her lots of pictures.

Gabby had her first Nevada Ballet Theatre program last weekend. She was an eaglet in Alice in Wonderland. Here she is pre-show with the flowers that Pop and Madi gave her.

The obligatory photo with Uncle Paul.

And a second obligatory photo with Uncle Morgan. If only Uncle Ian had been around too.

I knew that flash photography wasn’t allowed in the theater, but I wasn’t sure about non-flash photos. I got in trouble for taking this one and am not the least bit sorry. It was the one and only time I got to see her perform (we weren’t allowed in dress rehearsals), so I felt like it was my God-given right to take a picture or two. They look like little cotton balls!

I was so proud of her.

One last picture with the flowers that Grandma Wendy and Grandpa Richard brought her.

Gabby loves to dance. Watch this video of her dancing to Adele. Such musicality! Such a performer!

Aunt Mari has created a paradise for the kids in her office. They LOVE going to the office. They get to color, play with toys and eat snacks. Because that’s what happens at the office! I hope they aren’t disappointed when they grow up.

And did I forget to mention they get to dress up too?! Thank you, Aunt Mari!

We went hiking with the Fortunovs several weeks ago in Calico Basin. The kids liked playing in this cave.

Enjoying the little things in life like beautiful days in the desert.

Gabby likes riding the bike she got for her birthday. We had to buy her this helmet when we spent two hours in the store buying my bike. It was a bribe for being good.

Gabby put this ensemble together to wear for Coleman’s violin program, which was the impetus for me going home and cleaning out her closet. This was her Christmas dress two years ago. It barely covered her butt on this particular day.

Mari is so sweet to take pictures of me with Gabby. Note the red sash, purple headband and pink shoes. I was horrified.

Gabby’s first swim of the season in Jaime’s pool.

Once I cleaned out her closet, she did a much better job picking out clothes that fit. It really was my fault. Grandma Wendy bought her this dress, and Gabby wore it to Project Dog House. I’m sure Gabby was part of the reason Lenny and Lucy won a spot in the 2014 calendar. She and Coleman walked them down the runway while they were being judged.

Coleman and Gabby hug it out in the Bellagio Conservatory.

We took a family vacation to San Francisco for Memorial Day weekend. I was very pleased with how well the kids (especially Gabby) behaved on the trip. I feel like this is the beginning of fun family vacations. While Brian and Coleman played a video game, Gabby and I checked out the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Aquarium had some cool hiding spots.

Everyone was patient while we waited in line to board our catamaran tour of the San Francisco Bay.

The sail is up!

Gabby loves Cheetos because “they have good taste.”

This picture was taken about 30 minutes before I lost my hat. A few minutes after that, Gabby lost her shoe. We were probably the only folks on the cruise that lost anything.

I knew we picked the right cruise when they let the kids “drive.”

We were first to ride the cable car the next day.

Then we waited for the California Academy of Sciences to open up. The kids ran around while I parked it on a bench.

We did an awesome hike with the Houssels on the Lands End Trail where Gabby declared that she hates hiking. Uh oh. This doesn’t bode well for our road trip!

One thing she does love is playgrounds. I think the one at Golden Gate Park might be the coolest one we’ve ever visited.

Later that afternoon we visited the Ferry Building, but most of the vendors were already gone for the day. When we walked across the street to the fountain, Gabby decided it’d be fun to jump down steps over and over. Watch the video.

On our last morning, we let them play in the sand, and they were highly entertained. It doesn’t take much. They made every track that you can see in the sand.

One last picture before we headed home. It was a great trip. Can’t wait to go on another vacation!

Gabby is 4 years old

April 14th, 2013

Gabby celebrated her birthday two weeks ago with a party at the Children’s Museum the day before her birthday and then a family dinner on her birthday, which also happened to be Easter.

Not counting babies, Gabby had 15 kids at her party. She had a great time being the center of attention, and she got a lot of it in her Tiana costume. Here she is with her friend Ella.

The chocolate cake was from Freed’s and was worth the calories.

We spent part of the time playing in the museum. Mari took this picture of Gabby and me. It was the last Saturday of Spring Break, and the museum was packed with people.

Gabby was tickled to death when everyone sang happy birthday to her. Check out the video.

The party attendant forgot to light the candles, so we did that after everyone sang the song.

We let her open one present at the party - a Tiana doll from Mari and Roy.

She opened the rest of her presents at home. It’s no wonder family members have a hard time buying Gabby and Coleman gifts since they already have everything (I’m sorry!). I immediately moved several presents to the closet so she can be surprised later. When Brian asked Gabby what she wanted for her birthday about two weeks prior, she said “a Tiana shower and Tiana bathroom; a button that will make her a frog and a bad guy and a prince frog; 2 brushes and makeup for Tiana; a big girl that has a pink dress; balloons with a frog holding onto the balloons and a crocodile with a trombone; a Cinderella with a prince and a castle; a horse, a dog and a cat; a step mom and 2 stepsisters for Cinderella; a clock that says “ding, time to go!” This is verbatim. I believe her wish list is a result of her not knowing what toys are available since she never sees commercials on TV.

The next day was her birthday. This is her reaction to the present Brian and I gave her - a Pinkalicious bike! Is there any better gift for a kid?

She and Coleman often ride bikes together now. They’ll ride in circles on the back patio.

We went to the Binion’s Easter party, and Katie joked that Gabby looked like she had a hangover from her party the day before. So true!

The grandparents, aunts and uncles came over for a birthday dinner, and Gabby got MORE presents. She and Grandma read Goldilicious together.

And this is the cake that Grandma bought for her.

Gabby and Coleman can’t wait to get a bite! Let me at that cake!

It was a very sugary day. Easter candy, ice cream sundaes and cookies at the Binion’s, and then birthday cake for dinner. Gabby and Coleman were high as kites even before cake time was over.

Gabby went to a birthday party with Coleman at the Mini Grand Prix and had a great time sliding down the super slide.

We had a play date with the Dixons on St. Patty’s Day. Gabby and Peyton had a great time together. This is the pre-mud photo.

And then Brian let them play in the mud. GREAT idea, Brian!

Later that day we celebrated Grandpa Richard’s 66th birthday.

Gigi made Gabby an Easter basket. She spray painted it and decorated it with flowers and ribbon and pink straw. Gabby LOVED it.

Pop and Madi arrived for Spring Break after a LONG drive from Mississippi. Madi bought Gabby and Coleman a really cool art set that kept them entertained all through Spring Break.

Madi and Pop also gave them an umbrella that Coleman and Gabby colored for several hours.

They still like their swing set.

Gabby loved spending time with Pop. This is what she wore to see Shrek the Musical at The Smith Center. I hope it’s obvious that she put this ensemble together herself.

Madi got a great picture of Gabby swinging.

We took at trip the O’Callaghan-Tillman bridge overlooking Hoover Dam. Capturing photos like this is nirvana for me.

Gabby loves nothing more than to pick a good flower.

Even if it involves falling on her butt, it was worth it.

It was a beautiful day to be at Hoover Dam.

Gabby was pooped when we got in the car, but she was able to stay awake to eat a nice sushi lunch at I Love Sushi. Look at those green eyes!

She got to open her card from Pop and Madi early. The card became this crown, which she wore for several days until her birthday.

We did the touristy thing and went to the top of the Stratosphere. We spent a good bit of time watching the tourists do the controlled free fall. Gabby looked pretty darn cute in her tutu.

Who doesn’t love a good view of Las Vegas?

Gabby and Coleman goofed it up. It almost looks like she’s assisting a drunkard.

Later that afternoon we hiked to the tanks at Red Rock. Tutus are great for hiking!

I’ve never wanted a leash for Gabby more than I did that day. It was scary how brazen she was jumping around on rocks. She was probably contemplating jumping off of this one.

We took a nice break on the trail before we had to turn around.

A family photo at the Bellagio’s conservatory. Note that she is still wearing the crown three days later.

We went to Valley of Fire State Park last weekend. The kids got pretty hot hiking, but had a good time finding rocks.

Gabby gets red in the face just like I did as a kid.

February Report Card

March 16th, 2013

Gabby received her second report card about a month ago and saw improvement in most areas. She hasn’t scored any 4s yet (exceeds expectations), but has received 3+ for the following: can recognize her first name in writing, knows age and birthday, recognizes eleven basic colors, imitates block/bead patterns, can ride a tricycle, can jump on both feet, can catch a large ball with body and arms, can thread beads with large needle and shoelace.

Gabby also received a mid-year evaluation from the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre. She received the highest score (very good) for the following: understanding concepts, listening and following directions, and commitment/attitude. Her teacher wrote “Gabby has a good understanding of concepts and is able to demonstrate what we are learning in First Steps above age level. She seldom needs to be reminded to focus and pay attention/follow directions. It is a pleasure to have Gabby in class.”

It’s not ballet, but she did showcase some jam band moves at First Friday in February. Watch the video.

Gabby had fun in the kids zone painting a table.

Then they had snow cones. It was one of the few food truck vendors with no lines. Needless to say, they did not go to bed on time that night.

I didn’t really know what to get them for Valentine’s Day, so they got their first gift of money from us. Gabby used her money to buy a giant Dream Light at Costco.

One of Gabby’s favorite things to do is visit Signature Property Management. As soon as she arrives, Gigi tells her to go see everyone. She is Miss Personality at the office, and from what I hear, people look forward to her visits. Mari took this great pic of Gabby with Gigi.

Gabby gave her Daddy a big hug on his 35th birthday.

This is her statue pose.

A few days later, we took them to the new Discovery Children’s Museum, which is a million times better than the old one. Gabby particularly enjoyed the play restaurant counter area.

She also enjoyed dressing up in the castle area. She had to settle for this wizard costume until the little girl wearing the princess costume took a hike.

After the museum, we took them to Poppy Den for brunch. Gabby was surprisingly well behaved. I might jinx myself, but I think we are turning a corner with taking Gabby out to eat. She had an hour long meal with Brian and me last Friday night and colored the whole time. She was perfect.

Christmas 2012

January 27th, 2013

Gabby had a great Christmas break. She spent time with family, had a fun Christmas Eve meal at Vintner Grill, celebrated with family on Christmas morning and spent time with Gigi, Wendy and Richard over New Year’s while we were in New York.

Here is a picture of Gabby with Mari on Christmas Eve. The dress is courtesy of Grandma Wendy.

Watch the video of Gabby and Coleman coming downstairs to see what Santa brought.

Gabby was really happy she got the castle, princess and horse she asked for. Here she is wearing one of the new nightgowns Granny Gigi bought for her.

Hamming it up in front of the tree.

Gigi is wearing the tutu that Wendy bought Gabby.

Gabby especially loved the bag of makeup, brushes and hair accessories that Gigi gave her. Here she is applying powder and then checking out her work very closely in the mirror.

Gabby loved the teepee from Mari and Roy. I can’t wait to take them camping.

She was also pleased to get a Tiana costume.

Gabby doesn’t yet realize how lucky she is to have Coleman for a brother. You can’t tell it from this picture, but she really loves antagonizing  him or “getting his goat” as we like to say in the Bresnahan family.

Gabby goofed it up later in the evening.

More quality time with her brother.

Can you tell Gabby liked bossing Paul around while he was here?

Gabby seemed to enjoy Cole’s birthday as much as he did.

Jenica and Roma came over too. Roma will be able to participate in the big kid activities before you know it.

Gabby’s 1st Report Card

December 22nd, 2012

Gabby received her very first report card a month ago. She is the youngest in her class of 18, and I think she’s keeping up very well. In fact, she knew everyone’s name in her class the first week! She didn’t get any “exceeds expectations” (that will happen later in the year), but she did get a few “demonstrates consistently” for the following: holds crayon correctly, can recognize first name in writing, knows age and birthday, recognizes eleven basic colors, imitates block/bead patterns, can ride a tricycle, can jump on both feet, can catch a large ball with body and arms, and can thread beads with large needle and shoelace.

Looking like the good student she is at her school’s Thanksgiving party.

We had a big Thanksgiving feast at our house with 23 people in attendance. Mari took a great picture of Gabby with Granny Gigi and Coleman.

This is the largest pumpkin Brian grew this year. We were all very proud! Now, if only we can get them to turn orange . . .

Gabby has homework at least two nights each week. This assignment was to cut out a heart.

We went to the Children’s Book Festival at the Fifth Street School, and Gabby had Ariel, Flounder and the ocean painted on her face. Coleman didn’t want to wait in line, but when he saw Gabby’s face, he wished he had.

I had the opportunity to watch Gabby in her dance class. Here she is looking very graceful!

I couldn’t resist taking this picture of her back. Too cute!

We were invited to a grandma/daughter/grandkid party, and Gabby played with several kids in her class. This is Madison, whose grandmother is a long time friend of the Plasters.

The Gonyas invited us to the rodeo. Gabby was on the first row and had a bit of trouble sitting still. As I liked to say at the time, “This IS her first rodeo.”

We went to the Binion’s holiday party last week, and Gabby ice skated for the first time. Or ice slipped might be more appropriate. At least she looked cute!

Coleman and Gabby hugged it out on the dance floor.

We went to the Neon Boneyard yesterday, and Gabby said “You tricked me!” when she found out she couldn’t run around and play. She was surprisingly good for the first 30 minutes of the 50 minute tour.

She’s got ants in her pants that make her want to dance!

Our next tactic was to put her on Brian’s shoulders. She thought Brian’s hat looked like a chocolate cupcake.

The sky was really beautiful for taking pictures of the old neon signs.

Here she is in front of the Stardust sign. We learned a lot about Vegas history during the tour.

One final picture with Mommy in front of the Sahara sign.

Uncle Paul is in town for Christmas and has already spent a lot of time with Gabby. In fact, they are at the Children’s Museum right this second so that I can have some quiet time to write this blog. Bless them!