the summer post

Today is my fourth day of being laid-up with a sickness that I learned today to be bronchitis, so, I write.

I slept, whined and moaned my way through the week until last night, when I felt well enough to go to a friend’s wedding. And I actually felt a LOT better, especially after chasing my cold medicine with wine and dancing for hours on end. Apparently that was the eye of the storm of my sickness and I awoke with no voice and flaming glands this morning. I need to get well enough to work next week, so I headed for urgent care this morning, armed with a days worth of reading material. I was pleased to wait less than an hour to see a super-friendly doctor who sent me on my way with amoxicillin and the promise that I’ll feel much better tomorrow. I sure hope super-friendly doctor is right. Since I work outside, I almost never get sick. But when I do, I’m always so miserably incapacitated and unprepared. It’s days like these I realize that I take my day-to-day well being for granted, and, how incredibly fortunate I am to have health insurance.

And now my bout with bronchitis has been forever immortalized in our almost quarterly updated blog, how pathetic! On to the big update….

June brought the wedding of Kristen – Rick’s sister – and her now-husband Chris Giangregorio. It was a fantastic weekend of wonderful family and friends, culminating in a very exciting day. Rick was a groomsman and I was the matron of honor. It was a true honor to stand next to Kristen that day – I am blessed to have her in my life as a sister and one of my very best friends.

Parker Jane was a flower girl alongside her cousin Mya.

post wedding cracker time

We had decided that the girls would be carried down the aisle and it turned out to be a good call – as Rick was walking PJ in, she was busily tossing petals from her basket, but when she looked up to see all eyes on her, she froze with a single petal in her hand, expressionless, for the rest of the procession.

Parker Jane’s little cousin Amanda had her first birthday party in July. It was fun to watch as PJ got caught up in the excitement with the other toddlers. For the most part she hangs back in a group of kids and is amused by just by watching them. She’s particularly interested in older boys – she’ll just stare at them in awe. Amanda wasn’t too keen on her birthday cake and poked at it a few times. Apparently, this sign is a green light for other toddlers to move in on the cake. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Parker Jane lick her lips and saunter up to where Amanda was sitting… I was able to intercept before the coup.

The absolute highlight of the summer was our four weeks spent at Corbal’s Casa Serena in July and August. Earlier this year, Rick and I had kicked around the idea of taking an extended period of time off to unplug and unwind in the mountains. We had spent two very busy weeks at the cabin last August when Parker Jane was just 6 months old (!) and wanted to try to do it again this year… just for a little bit longer. So, we made it happen, and it turned out to be such an invaluable time.

Over the last few years, the family had undertaken the project of updating the cabin’s 1981 interior. Last year we changed out curtains and installed some ceiling fans. This year though, with such a significant amount of time on our hands, Rick and I felt that it was only right that we make a significant contribution to the effort. Our project: paint the inside of the house. This was not daunting to someone (me) who hasn’t painted a wall – much less a two story house – in many years. It took only one full day – I mean dawn till dusk – of painting for us to realize that we’d never finish the whole house in the limited time we had without company. So we set our goal for at least finishing the downstairs, and we did it! We probably could have gotten a good part of the upstairs done as well if we hadn’t decided to paint all the ceilings as well. Yes, we (Rick) painted the ceilings too. We were crazed and covered in paint specks for five days, but we finished it, and it looks fabulous, and in retrospect, we had fun doing it. This and the several other home improvement projects we completed made us feel confident that whenever we’re able to buy our first house – which will most certainly be a junker – we’ll be able to do a lot of the work ourselves, just as we would like it.

We had planned for family and some friends to come and visit during our stay, and rightly so, the majority of our four weeks were spent with company coming and going. While we were initially conflicted by not having as much “alone time” as we had originally imagined, the time we spent with our loved ones was priceless – we shared unique experiences with each group or individual that allowed time for us to connect and truly enjoy each other’s company. As it turns out, we spent most of the eight days we did have alone together working on the house, which was an equally valuable experience. We made a point to get out in the evenings and stretch our legs, and of course Parker Jane provided non-stop entertainment so that made it all the better. It is refreshing to live – even briefly – in a state where time doesn’t matter. Time was everything and nothing to us for four weeks. Absolutely reinvigorating. I highly recommend it!

We would have stayed longer had we not had tickets to see Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl in late August. This band continues to blow my mind, and the show was accompanied by an especially fascinating “light show” – a term which does the phenomenon itself no service whatsoever. It was a great show despite the snoozer LA crowd, and the surprise cover of Neil Young’s “Tell Me Why” was as delicate as lace.

Parker Jane is now 18 months old, and such a significant age requires the customary trip to the doctor for a check-up. Since the beginning of her life, PJ has seen two different doctors at these benchmarks; one her pediatrician, and the other her cardiologist. We learned at her recent cardiologist visit that it would be the last one. Her doctor feels that the slight murmur that remained after the surgery is normal and insignificant compared to what it used to be. Needless to say, this is very good news, and I feel like we can finally close the door on that scary chapter of our lives.

this picture was taken five days ago, and that is a disco ball in a birdcage behind Parker Jane

The bad news is that she’s developed a fear of doctor’s offices and screams bloody murder before we even get to the examination room. I’ve learned from our last visit NOT to tell her that she won’t be hurt if there are vaccinations to be given. The way she looked at me after… Anyway, all is well with her – she’s still on the small size for her age – 22lbs, 31inches. From what I can tell she’s growing up as opposed to out – that belly isn’t quite as rotund, and her arms and legs are getting so long. Baby features are giving way to little girl looks. Her hair has a lot to do with it. When we were in the mountains, her hair was getting in her eyes and bothering her so I cut some quick bangs. They really suit her and make her look so grown up… sassy even.

pre bangs

Somewhere between last week and this week Parker Jane started putting together two and three word sentences. I’m constantly impressed by her growing vocabulary, sharp memory (very, very sharp!), and unmistakable self confidence. She has chosen her blankie – a soft nubby green blanket with satin backing. I’m now on the hunt for a replacement should something ever happen to the original. She loves it, like her favorite stuffed animals, fiercely. And, as always, she’s crazy about Shara (Shay-da!)

bangs (with Shara, with bangs)

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Written by Erin on September 8, 2008.

Categories: Erin, Family, Friends, General, Parker Jane, Rick.

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Lots of Photos!

Hey all-
We sincerely do apologize for the HUGE delay in getting new info and photos up on the site. However, we just uploaded to our Flickr account over 100 juicy new photos of the family from the last 3 months. We’ll get to an actual post with actual information later this week… we promise!

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Written by Erin on September 2, 2008.

Categories: General.

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Oh, yeah… we have a blog!

Could it be that the last Parker Jane update was at her first birthday? Shame on us, really. So much has happened and she has changed so much since then.

This Sunday she will be 15 months old!

PJ shares a birthday with George Harrison so i suppose having his hair is okay

This post is accompanied by an update to our flickr page. So much of what’s been going on can be seen in those photos.

Parker Jane went from cautious first steps just before her birthday to a full gallop – without knowing how to stop – in a matter of one month. Her mobility is astounding and she revels in her independence now. Just because she can, she’ll veer off in any direction at any given time. Accidents abound in our daily lives as a result.

the waves weren’t very good that day

She’s quite a talker theses days too, and will repeat words and expressions she likes. She picked up “ooo-wee!” and “okie-dokie” from her grammy last weekend. Her daily favorites are “apple”, “hi”, “bye”, “monkey”, “duck/y”, and “book/y”. The word I’m proudest of: “octopus” (sounds more like “oppu”, but she says it and points to the octopus in a couple of different books. It’s strange how prominent octopi are in kids books.)

too busy drinkin’ to talk

A month-and-a-half ago we experienced a banner moment in Parker Jane development: the death of the pacifier (or “plug” as we liked to call it). Parker Jane had developed a bit of a runny nose and was forced to breath predominately out of her mouth because of it. Breathing from the mouth hampered pacifier sucking, so while Parker Jane still clung to the comfort of the pacifier, her use during this time was greatly diminished. So we took the pacifier away. Not knowing what might happen, we waited for the longing cry, but it never came. Nor did it come the next day, or the next, and within 3-4 days we knew that the pacifier had become a thing of the past. In honor of the passing of our dear friend “plug”, we offer you this:

Just this evening we had a breakthrough. She said “poo-poo” then took her customary squat and did her business. This was worthy of a phone call to daddy on his way to work. We have brought out her training potty, and attempt to have her sit on it every day, but haven’t even begun to think about potty training. I think it’ll be obvious when she’s ready for that. In the meantime it’s just another thing to climb and stand on in the bathroom.

A large part of our daily lives with Parker Jane involve her bringing books for us to read to her. It is something we are very pleased with and love to encourage. She gets so much pleasure from perusing her book baskets and plopping down on our laps with her selection. She’s got a decent library growing, and somehow I still get a kick out of reading “Goodnight Sweet Butterflies” for the 300th time. But there are a few of those books… you know, the one she picks out and brings to you with gusto while you grimace and try to talk her out of it. The one that you hide underneath the sofa until she finds it the next day, whining and clawing to reach it, and then insisting you read it on the spot. Twice. We don’t have cable service which means we don’t have TV, and while Fantasia has been popped in the VCR a few times, Parker Jane has no interest in TV. When the time is right I’m sure we will introduce old Sesame Street episodes, old Disney Movies and of course the Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine. But for now, an annoying book Parker Jane is compelled to look at over and over still insights more imagination and interaction than Teletubbies, and we are happy to read it.

with a wagon and a bff like Shara, who needs t.v.

Parker Jane is by nature a very easy going and happy toddler. She is strong-willed and stubborn yet generous with her affection. Plush toys and our very forgiving cats cannot escape Parker Jane’s kisses. And she’s getting better at giving her mom and dad kisses, too (but only upon request). Strange – no longer a baby, but not yet a little girl. I love this stage as much as I’ve loved every other one. Her rapid development is a lot to keep up with, and we’re now challenged with the tricky task of discipline.

discipline, with a clown like this? we’ll see

As for me, I’m refocusing on my family and business in the wake of the LA Garden Show. It was really satisfying working within the show’s theme (“A Vision for Sustainability”) and creating a “green” space for all to see (and a theme I’d like to explore more in my future work). Leading up to the opening of the show and during the installation, I was struck by the whole process feeling reminiscent of preparing for one of my college photography exhibits. There was a similar energy of creation on that lawn, and though we were all doing our own work, it felt like a collaborative effort between all of the designers to put on the show. It was a very exciting, humbling, and affirming moment in my career.

front view of finished design

Rick spends four nights a week in South Pasadena serving California Cuisine to the rich and famous (actually, rich and demanding). In his spare time, Rick continues to write, build and create works of art; his current focus being the development of a small, independent literary press for publication of his written material as well as friends and other talented writers.

May 18, 2008 marked six years of marriage for Rick and I. While not always a walk in the park, our love for each other remains strong enough to topple any wall and hurdle any barrier. And moving forward with Parker Jane as a part of our family, this love will only grow.

holding hands is still magic, that’s why we still do it (PJ now included)

In case we neglect to post for another three months, I thought I might add here a three month projection for the Corbal Family. In June Parker Jane will be a flower girl in her Aunt Kristen’s wedding. What she’ll do when faced with a basket of petals then led down the aisle in front of 200 people, no one knows… but there’s a good chance that I’ll be carrying her. July will be hot and uncomfortable. Parker Jane will spend most of her time in just a diaper. In August we hope to spend a few weeks at the Casa Serena in the mountains and enjoy the simple life. That’s what I see on the horizon, so just go with that until you hear again from us again. But we’ll try very hard to stop in sooner.

love to all,


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Written by Erin on May 24, 2008.

Categories: Annie, Erin, Family, Friends, General, Jude, Parker Jane, Rick, Video.

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Los Angeles Garden Show

After much hemming and hawing, I decided last week to take a leap of faith and grasp the opportunity to be one of twelve landscape designers featuring their work at the 2008 Los Angeles Garden Show. Beneath a thin layer of nervousness about the decision, I am really excited and inspired by the project – and more so each day. The theme of this year’s show is “Abundant Gardens – A Vision for Sustainability”. It is such a wonderful and timely theme to work under, and so far I’ve found the design process to be equally fun and challenging. I have had the need to create something for myself after creating for other people for so long – I never expected that it would be on display for thousands of people, but hey, what can you do?

The Los Angeles Garden Show is taking place at the LA Arboretum May 2 – 4, 2008. Come on by and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood!

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Written by Erin on March 19, 2008.

Categories: Erin, General.

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Starting the new year off right.

As Rick had mentioned in his previous post, we’ve been kept busy (best described as being in a constant state of mouths-hanging-open) by Parker Jane’s experience of constantly growing, learning, and understanding. But it has been far too long, and far too much has happened in her little world, so it’s time for an end-of-year-in-review. Accompanying this post is a gigantic flickr update with tons of old & new photos.

October (I started to write this post back then but never finished):
Parker Jane’s “worm” scoot evolved into a full fledged crawl early in the month. And she was off! She is particularly fast when one of us opens the refrigerator door – she likes the bright light and the cold surfaces. We try to be energy efficient in our household, though, so keeping the fridge door open for her just won’t work out. Once she mastered crawling, she got fast to work at pulling herself up to standing. This is a challenging stage, not because of all the little bumps and bonks, but knowing that she needs to experience the bumps and bonks in order to learn and improve. She’s also at the age where she looks to make sure you’re watching before she starts wailing.

international super model PJ Hunter presents: plush toy in mouth while crawling

Later in the month we spent time with both sets of grandparents for early Halloween celebrations. We went with my parents to “Bates Nut Farm” with hundreds of other people who only wanted to pick out a pumpkin and take a picture, but found themselves among a huge fall festival. Next year this extravaganza will be more worthwhile, but for an 8 month old who’s in need of a nap, it was much more than we bargained for. Luckily, we were able to find parking, see the farm animals, take the pumpkin pictures, and get out in a half an hour. Then we visited San Jose for a quick weekend and sought out a pumpkin patch nearby. Parker Jane impressed her great-grandma at her first piano lesson and had lots of fun banging on the keys. She had some good one-on-one time with Grammy and showed her how much she has changed in only two months.

A Halloween first: Parker Jane as “pumpkin”, and Shara as “pea pod”. Eight months old, and they flawlessly stay in character. Kids these days, huh?

The day of the surgery came and went (see previous post), and afterwards our life and home quickly adjusted to Parker Jane 2.0. It was incredible to see the change in activity level and endurance within just one day of the surgery. It makes perfect sense when you see the before and after photos of her pulmonary valve; obviously her laid-back and mellow nature was greatly influenced by the constraints of this valve. That is still her nature for the most part, but along with a more functional valve came a sassy, goofy, and sometimes stubborn side to her personality. This whole experience has made the job of being Parker Jane’s mom all the more joyful and fulfilling.

We hosted thanksgiving this year, and boy were we thankful it was a nice day, otherwise our almost 30 guests would have been crammed into our tiny little apartment. Luckily it was a gorgeous fall day and we were able to sit outside and enjoy all the wonderful food. It was truly a day to give thanks for the people in our lives, and an honor to be in the company of our incredible and loving family and friends. That being said, it will probably be a few more years until we host thanksgiving again.

Grandma and Grandpa Wright with Parker Jane on Thanksgiving – yes, Parker Jane did eat quite a bit of everything you see on that plate.

December – present:
Parker Jane and I visited my parents in Escondido for a pre-Christmas weekend mid-month since they’d be traveling and we’d be in San Jose for the holidays. We mostly just spent time together watching Parker Jane, but one afternoon we went out to Kit Carson Park to see a sculpture garden called Queen Califia’s Magical Circle by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle. (LINK) It is all colorful mosaic glass, tile, and rocks, and very kid-friendly. Parker Jane could have spent all day there touching the sculpture and crawling around; it will be so fun to bring her back as she grows up. We improvised a Christmas morning gift opening while we were there. Her gift-opening skills did not improve much up through Christmas, as she was much more impressed with the ribbon than ripping paper or the actual gift. I hear this changes by the one year birthday?

Scaling their magnificent Ruins, explorer Parker Jane Corbal seeks to find the truth behind the long lost but not forgotten tribes of Escondido.

Parker Jane’s Aunt Kristen and Uncle Chris made the trip up to San Jose with us, so the 6 hour ride wasn’t as boring as it usually is for Parker Jane. We were in the bay area for five relaxing days through Christmas. We had a wonderful vacation spending good time with family and friends, and not doing much else aside from eating and playing with the baby. Parker Jane got to visit with her cousin Mya twice while we were there. Mya is 11 months older and is mostly responsible for Parker Jane’s fabulous hand-me-down wardrobe. The two combined are a cute-force to be reckoned with. I’m so looking forward to watching these girls grow up together, and for the yet-to-be cousins too!

What? We were just…the cabinet? no, we weren’t…aren’t we cute?

I had predicted that Parker Jane would walk by her 10 month birthday (Christmas day), but now I’m thinking it will be closer to a year. She’s a fast and efficient cruiser now (walking while holding onto something), and every once in a while we catch her standing very briefly. She loves to hold onto our hands and walk with us; she practically runs sometimes! One of her new loves is a big purple ball her Grammy gave her. She’s taken to kicking the ball while walking with one of us. She’s gotten really good at it – so good it’s got me thinking that she’s going to be the next Mia Hamm.

In fact, she half-said “ball” on Christmas for the first time. It comes out more like “baa”, but she obviously associates the word she is saying with the actual thing. “Duck” is not too far behind, and sounds like “dut”. Parker Jane delights in hearing the different sounds (and volumes) her voice, tongue, and lips can make. It appears much more so recently that when she’s babbling at us or at something, her intent is to communicate something. What that thing is though, is always up for debate!

What began as a wet open mouthed slobber on the cheek has evolved into a sweet and tender kiss. There’s no telling when you’ll get a kiss from Parker Jane, but when it happens, there’s no avoiding the warm and fuzzy feeling that engulfs you.

I recently told someone that Parker Jane is like a garbage can – she’ll eat anything! That’s not a really nice way to put it, but it’s kind of true. I’m constantly amazed at her openness to new foods – foods I even didn’t start eating until my 20′s! As long as it’s soft enough for her chew/gum (she’s only got two bottom teeth so far) she’ll eat it and open her mouth for more. She loves avocado best of all; she’ll eat it at every meal if offered. A true California girl.

We rang in the new year very quietly, with my parents watching the ball drop on TV. Parker Jane slept as we kissed her after midnight. 2008 promises to be a very good year and we have a lot to look forward to.

- For me, this month will be spent re-focusing on my business and starting to build it again (see Rick starts an online grammar refresher course through the Pasadena City College.
- In February I am going on vacation in Mexico with some girlfriends. Parker Jane will turn one on the 25th!
- Shara turns one on March 1st! Rick turns 31. I have jury duty.
- Our friends Derek and Mary are having a baby in April. Rick and I are going to ride in a 50 mile bike race with my dad from Rosarito to Ensenada, Mexico.
- In May, bachelorette party madness will ensue in the the mountains for my sister-in-law Kristen. Rick and I celebrate 6 years of marriage.
- Kristen marries Chris in June, in Santa Cruz. I’m a proud big sister matron of honor. Somehow Parker Jane will walk down the aisle as a flower girl.
- The summer will most definitely be hot, and we’ll have the Olympics and the Presidential campaigning to keep us entertained.
- In November, I turn 32. Two days later we have an opportunity to elect someone who hopefully will lead our country in a better direction than it’s been going in the last eight years. If all goes well, I expect an optimistic end to another good year.

And now, for all you videophiles: mealtime Conversation

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Written by Erin on January 16, 2008.

Categories: Erin, Family, Friends, General, Parker Jane, Rick, Video.

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It’s been how long?

Parker Jane and BFF Shara at Hermosa Beach

You may be wondering what cute things Parker Jane has been doing lately. There are too many to name, as it’s been a long time since we’ve posted, but here are a few extra-cute Parker Janeisms.

* Her laugh changes constantly. It can be a guffaw one day and a choking cackle the next. She even does a silent laugh.
* One day soon she’ll be zooming across the floor in a super-efficient crawl. Until then she’s gotten very good at what we call the “slow motion worm”. Just like the classic breakdance move, she launches herself forward from a push-up position onto her belly then pushes herself an inch or so with her feet, then the whole motion is repeated. Imagine that in fast-forward and you have Parker Jane doing the worm.
* She’s eating solid food now, or at least food a little more solid than milk. She seems to enjoy the rice cereal, but aside from that it’s hard to tell what she likes or dislikes. We just keep feeding her food she’ll eat, grimacing face and all.
* Now almost a 7 month old, Parker Jane is taking on subtle qualities which make her much less of an infant-baby and more of a toddler-baby. Small things like her being able to put her pacifier back in her mouth the right way, and her being stable enough to be held “hip-carry” style in a sling, really show how far she has come. As for how far she still has to go, I’ve been enjoying watching that unfold day after day.

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Written by Erin on September 19, 2007.

Categories: Erin, General, Parker Jane.

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