hi everyone,

i’ve moved my blog to imeeshu.com

please visit me there to continue reading about my kids, furniture restoration, my obsession with Restoration Hardware, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and gardening.

i’ve also added a ‘Money Matters’ and ‘Business’ section as it’s time to bring some of my professional experience to my blog.

thanks for reading and follow me….  imeeshu.com

follow me to imeeshu.com!



it was a cooler evening.

the clouds were rolling in.

i looked over and noticed Big A glancing out the window….

…or maybe into the window…

then he leaned in….

and smooshed his button nose even closer…

and finally laid one on the glass.

he kept trying.  i don’t think he realized it was him.

too. cute. for. words.

gorgeous so cal evening before a rain

the view tonight was a gorgeous, blue, gray, pre-storm, cloud-filled sky.

i love to ski.  my husband loves to snowboard.

we’ve got two boys and i’ve been chompin’ at the bit to get them on the slopes.

last year, when i was pregnant with Big A, it snowed 20′ in mammoth. you read that right. 20 FEET!

unfortunately, my two swollen feet and I were laid up…eating bon bons….cursing the epic 20′.

so this was our season to get Lil G on the slopes…and did we ever!!!  we headed to Mammoth Mountain…the eastern California Sierras.  we arrived the day after it snowed 4.5′.

fine, not 20, but still a pretty good dump!

Here’s Lil G…so happy in the snow.  He loves the mountains and snow…definitely my boy!

Lil G took 4 days of ski school....and loved it.

The toddler class caters to 3-4 year olds.  They meet in the lodge, get all their gear on…which is a feat in and of itself….

Boots, pants, jacket, helmet, goggles, gloves….and then ‘I’ve gotta go potty!’

And that’s just you!  🙂

The first day of lessons is really just trying to get your kid used to the snow and all the gear.  The helmet basically makes them a real life bobble head.  Talk about top heavy.

the magic carpet moves the kids up the tiny slope...

By the end of the first day, they’ve learned how to wobble around on a single ski, and then on two skis.  Then they learn how to get onto a magic carpet, which is like a giant moving sidewalk, moving them up the ever-so-slightly inclined slope.

the kids line up like little ducks...skiing one at a time down the very mild slope

They learn to step off the magic carpet and hobble onto a piece of astro turf.  Then they wait turns to ‘ski’ down the slope.

Here was Lil G’s favorite instructor…Miss Nikki from Newport Beach.  She was gentle, patient, fun, and nurturing.  He learned the most the day she taught him….and believe me, she earned every single penny.  Talk about herding cats!

The kids all fall…and pretty much they stay in this position until someone fetches them.

And by day 3, they’re much more comfortable in their gear, can walk confidently to and from the lodge, and are starting to demonstrate some semblance of skill!  Check this out!!!

The 3 hour lesson is broken up with a 30-45 minute snack break.  Here are the kiddos walking comfortably in their boots and gear to get goldfish and cookies.

i'd say this guy looks pretty happy!

A few tips we learned on our first Mammoth trip:

  • Canyon Lodge and Eagle Lodge seem to be the most kid-friendly.  There isn’t as much mayhem and the kids don’t have to walk too far to get from the lodge to the lesson.
  • Eagle Lodge is directly next door to Juniper Springs lodge and is a 100 yard walk to the lodge.  Easy.
  • Mid week lessons are a must.  We were lucky with class sizes no larger than 4 kids.
  • Book online and register for a ‘My Mammoth’ account.  You’ll get discounts and access to free wifi in the lodges.
  • Arrive early the first day to pick up your gear…skis, boots, helmet.  Rentals do NOT include pants, jackets, gloves, or goggles, so pick those up before you arrive if possible.  I made the mistake of assuming ‘gear’ included the clothes…and ended up scrambling to buy it the morning of our first class.  Shhh…don’t tell my husband!
  • Drop off the kids as if it’s the first day of preschool.  Drop and go.  Don’t linger around, don’t let them see you, don’t helicopter.  It’s distracting to the instructor, the kids, and you end up wasting your money.  Hug, kiss, walk away, and hide behind a tree if you want…but don’t be up in their grill taking pictures the whole time.  Arrive 15 minutes before the end of class to take pix…the kids are adjusted and feeling comfortable by then.
  • Ski and try to enjoy yourself while you pine away for your kid.
  • Book everything through mammothmountain.com and get FREE flights into MMH airport from LAX, SNA, or San Diego.  Mammoth’s new expanded airport is a 5 minute drive from the mountain.  This is a no-brainer.  If you stay in Mammoth lodging, you don’t need a car.  A shuttle picks you up from the airport, brings you to the resort, you either walk or shuttle to the lifts, and it’s easy as that.

We had a GREAT first time ski school experience at Mammoth, but here’s one thing they should consider:

  • Now with the RFID (radio frequency ID) tickets, you put the plastic card in a pant pocket, and the gates auto-detect the card, open a gate, and let you on to the lift.  No longer do you need to wait for someone to scan your ticket.  FAST!  With this new technology, the mountain is totally able to offer 1/2 day morning passes, but they don’t.  They should.  I want to ski while my kids are in ski school…but have to take them home for naps afterward.  Why’m I paying a full day ticket price?  C’mon!

Get ready Big A…you’re next!

i’m 1/2 Chinese.  my husband lived in Argentina for several years.

with 1.4 billion Mandarin speaking people in the world, and about 1/2 billion spanish speakers in the world, it’s a no-brainer that our kids should learn these languages.

Seashore Academy charter school - Corona del Mar, CA. Chinese and Spanish immersion program.

i spoke three languages growing up.  Mandarin, Taiwanese and English.  when we moved back to the US when I was 7 though, i felt ‘weird’ speaking Chinese.  so i didn’t.

that was dumb.

my mom tries to speak only Chinese to our kids.  as a result, my Chinese has improved dramatically in the past 3 years.  lil G, our oldest, understands everything she says.  in fact today, he offered me an apple in Chinese.  at school the other day, he introduced himself to another Chinese student in Mandarin.  cute.

my husband was supposed to only speak Spanish to the kids.  he’s got a beautiful Argentine accent.  to Spanish speakers, that’s equivalent to having a British accent…sexy.  unfortunately, that part of our plan didn’t work and we only speak English at home.

i’ve been searching high and low for a chinese immersion program for our kids.  certainly living in orange county, with all the Chinese people around here, there was sure to be a school.



mayo.  沒有.

wow.  i even researched what it would take to open a school.  then i quickly realized that dealing with a bunch of OC parents wasn’t my idea of fun.

yes, there are Chinese weekend schools.  i did those growing up.  in my opinion, weekends aren’t meant to be spent in a classroom.  kids should be playing.  i was the only 5th grader in the Chinese kindergarten class trying to read Mandarin.

no wonder i have issues!

besides, once a week isn’t gonna cut it.  you need to be speaking it every day.

my husband grew up with Spanish speakers all around him, and he studied through high school and college.  when he applied for a job that required Spanish, the boss suggested he really learn it.  that’s when husband moved to Argie…to immerse himself in the culture and language.

but guess what?  there’s a Mandarin/Spanish immersion charter school opening in Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) in Fall 2012 called Seashore Academy.  it’s based off its sister school in San Diego.  here’s a video giving an overview of the San Diego program.

Chinese Spanish immersion charter school

there are Saturday classes starting January 28, 2012 which include some Mommy & me classes as well as a 4 hour immersion class.  i’m pretty sure this is the email if you want more info.

in addition to kindergarten classes, i hear they’re looking to fill some 2nd and 3rd grade classes, so check out the site and get on the list!

several months ago, i was at a friend’s house.  she mentioned that she wanted to do a built-in in her dining room.

one where the kids could do homework.  stash papers.  and maybe the adults could even stash a kegerator.  and all of it would be hidden if a real dinner were to be served in the room.

oooh, a pretty dining room built-in. SURPRISE! it's got hidden treasures behind those doors!

so i went home, launched my fave software, OmniGraffle, and got down to business.

Pocket doors hide a computer. Glass upper cabinets reveal pretty stemware and dimmed lights.

pocket doors also hide a seating area and pull out keyboard tray. when not it use, the cabinet doors blend to make it feel like a true dining room built-in.

built-in cubbies allow for display of knick knacks

no less than three weeks later, i popped in to say hi and it was built!  i’ve never seen anything be built that fast!  just…like…that!  a new built-in!

so top secret. don't tell anyone there's a computer and a bunch of homework behind those doors!

luckily they voted against the keg in the dining room.  perhaps they have bigger plans for a bbq hang/area in the back yard!

i love this stuff!

what do you hide in your dining room?

how luxurious does this look?

Vista Verde ranch - Steamboat Colorado. photo by Jessica Eck

of course, the two seasons i was pregnant, there was EPIC snowfall.  now that i’m ready to hit the slopes again…not so much.

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Colorado. photo by Jessica Ekl

But Vista Verde still looks INCREDIBLE!!!  An all-inclusive luxury dude ranch just north of Steamboat, Colorado.


And my buddy Deanna is getting married there in March.

Vista Verde Ranch horses. photo by Vista Verde.

Which means we get to experience this LUXURY!!!  Back country skiing?  Check.  Spa treatments?  Check.  AMAZING organic foods?  Check.  All the outdoor activities you want to participate in?  Check.  Romance with the hubby?  Check.  Some time spent in God’s country.  Check check and check!

did someone say hot toddy? photo by Vista Verde

i found this huge hurricane vase at the salvation army.

it spoke to me.  “buy me!  i’m only $2!”

so i did.  but what would i do with it?

then i remembered i hadn’t yet unpacked the huge blue sea coral from our move!


i wasn’t really sure what to do at the bottom.  i didn’t have any sand and was too lazy to drive 5 miles to get some in laguna.

brown rice!

i also experimented with using mod podge, food dye, and some antique labels to create vintage looking bottles.  i used bondo to attach the awesome red sea sponge to the bottle.  this picture shows the bondo, which is a striking orange/red color that matches the sponge perfectly.  but i ended up using a car paint pen to make it look more like solder.  i’ll upload more pix later.

this ledge needs help…it’s so….white…and boring.  help!

Hi, my friends call me Big A.  I’m almost 10 months old.  Right before Christmas, my Mommy felt it was only fair that I start doing some chores.

First the Swiffer….and now this.

it's only 3 puffs! c'mon Mommy!

i design software applications.  what does this mean?  my mom has asked me this no fewer than a zillion times.

i conceptualize how users should interact with software.

software apps, whether web-based or otherwise, should be easy-to-use.  so easy that even AOL users should be able to figure them out.

again mom asks “what does that mean?”


unfortunately, i’m unable to turn off the part of my brain that wants to create.  i love to improve things and make them efficient.  especially when it comes to non-software projects.  🙂

enter Exhibit A.  the above is a quick spec i put together when the house was under construction.  who does this?

i feel out of sorts unless i make a spec….for just about everything…anyone with me on this?

when i called the custom cabinet guy and sent him the spec, he laughed nervously.  he probably thought i’d be a nightmare client.

who me?!  little ole low maintenance me?

Robert Downs was a guy I found through Craigslist.  I called his references and they all checked out.  His clients loved him.  No wonder why…look at his craftsmanship?  Exquisite.

the TV is mounted on a 150 lb pull-out swivel so that people can enjoy it anywhere in the room

The kids sit at the counter in the kitchen.  Husband is learning how to BBQ.  The TV swivels so that it can be viewed from just about anywhere in our great room, and even through a window to be viewed outside at the BBQ!  Oh, we also installed a super quiet fan that runs 24/7 to keep all the components cool.  Fancy.

tv swiveled toward the kitchen on a pull-out mount

My one concern is that this is just perfect height to smack a toddler in the skull.

four industrial drawers with automatic shutting mechanisms hide toys...oh the toys...so many...toys...

I’m a neat freak.  If I don’t see the mess, it doesn’t exist.  So…four huge drawers to house all the toys…puzzles…games…cars…trucks…paper towel rolls…and old school phones.  🙂

we used heavy duty gliders and dove tailed drawers to super duper strength. you know how strong those kids can be!

The quiet shut drawers are actually great b/c the baby can’t open the doors on his own…at least for another few months.

but he’s getting close!

slide out drawer with drop down face for PS3 and gadgets

I suspected once we took the PS3 plunge that we’d have all these nutty gadgets.  Who can have a PS3 without the Move ice cream controls, a charging stand, 4 controllers, and a bunch of wires and cables?  Not we!

look at the awesome custom paint job our friend Andrew pulled off! love.

Our good friend is a high-end custom painter….I guess that’s what his profession is.  But really, he’s an artist.  He transformed this raw poplar wood to have texture, depth, and warmth.  He does all of this without a drop cloth.  Ever.  Not a single drop of paint anywhere to be found.  He can leave your house after painting and head straight to a black tie dinner without needing to clean up.  Incredible.

magnet closure for the drawer's drop down face. goodbye PS3!

these drawers slide out for easy access to PS3 gadgets.

We mounted a surge protector hidden out of the way, yet easily accessible.

two smaller side drawers hold DVDs and remotes

adjustable shelves hold a bunch of junk. i still haven't mastered decorating these shelves. time to call Erica Bryen!

it all starts with a spec….


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