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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Parker Jane turned one year old at 9:15 this morning.

we spent the morning romping around the living room floor with Grammy, Great Grandma and Papa Tony-in town for PJ’s birthday bash (we will post in length about this party soon).

nap: 9:50am-11:40am.

up and out of the house by 12:15pm to meet mama and auntie Susan for lunch at their work-site.

back to the house by 2pm for an hour of romping around the living room with dada.

nap: 3:15pm-5pm.

up and out of the house in five minutes for a walk: we hit a teatherball around at a nearby school, climbed up a jungle gym, swung on the swings, walked to see the horses near our house, were barked at by a dog, and returned home by 6:10pm.

6:30pm mama returned home and joined in the fun that is Parker Jane’s dinner. dinner was followed by a big piece of cake from yesterday’s party. during cake time, Parker Jane was asked how old she was. and she said:

cake time was quickly followed by bath-time, which was followed by nudie-cuite time (diaper only romping).

once clothed, Parker Jane opened two bags full of books from mama and dada. we read a bit, sang a few songs and did a last bit of romping.

by 8pm, Parker Jane was asleep for the evening. Erin and i ate dinner on the couch and talked, about lots of good things.

tomorrow looks to be another great day.

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Written by Rick on February 26, 2008.

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

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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 www.seaofgreengardening.com). 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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living it

all around us, the evolution of Parker Jane, and most importantly, corbalfamily. hard to find time to write about it when you are busy living it. the degree, and more astoundingly the rate, of development is mind blowing. it’s odd, but watching PJ develop has allowed me to consider my own development, and ultimately feel proud of myself. to learn and adapt and grow into all of the people i have been in my short life so far; what an accomplishment. Parker Jane is an endless, visible reminder of this pride – i can’t wait to meet all of the people she will grow into being.

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Written by Rick on December 15, 2007.

Categories: Erin, General, Parker Jane, Rick.

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eight months and eighteen days

eight months and eighteen days ago, Parker Jane entered our lives at 9:15am.

11am, Erin, myself and Parker Jane (at that time baby girl Corbal) were situated in our hospital room.

1pm and it seemed as if every doctor on staff had been in to have a look at Parker Jane (now named) – poking and prodding, hearing tests, blood samples, a blur of white coats and stethoscopes. each doctor, upon listening to Parker Jane’s heart, made note of a low “whooshing” sound. and in turn, each doctor made note that the sound was most likely a result of the small hole in the heart that every baby is born with, that closes within the first few months of life; for most babies.

by 3pm, more doctors had been by to see Parker Jane and the mention of a heart defect entered the realm of possibility in relation to the “whoosh”. an echocardiogram (high tech moving x-ray) was ordered for Parker Jane soon after.

4pm the echocardiogram video was viewed and shortly thereafter Dr. Morris Salem, head of the Pediatric Cardiology Department entered our room to inform us that our hours-old daughter had a congenital heart defect and would require surgery before the pass of her first birthday.

Parker Jane was diagnosed with Cardio-Pulmonary Stenosis. base explanation of said condition being: blood flow in and out of one of Parker Jane’s Pulmonary Valves was too slow, causing the other valve to work twice as hard. the leaflets controlling the blood flow through the valve were too thick, and therefore too slow to regulate blood flow properly.

the news of Parker Jane’s condition came as a dull shock to Erin and i who were still attempting to clear headspace as new parents. once explained in detail, given pamphlets on the heart condition and visited a second time by Dr. Salem, it was made clear that the condition was not deadly or requiring immediate treatment. Parker Jane would need to meet weight and overall growth requirements during monthly checks with Dr. Salem. based on Parker Jane’s progress, an Angioplasty-like heart surgery would be scheduled and performed anytime after the turn of six months.

with detail still too fresh to recount, life at home with Parker Jane began with a heightened urgency to gain and maintain weight. each check-up with Dr. Salem was coupled with a sense of anticipation: was Parker Jane meeting the benchmarks?

by the second month, Parker Jane had met her benchmarks so far and was slowly developing a personality. at the same time, Erin and i were beginning to feel a bit more confident in our parenting decisions. we returned the infant scale we rented. we stopped counting the exact number of ounces of breast milk Parker Jane drank per day. we stopped obsessing and began enjoying. Parker Jane was no longer a stranger, she became one of us, and we embraced that fact.

months went by and Parker Jane continued to grow and impress Dr. Salem with her progress. the surgery was rarely discussed at our visits even; the emphasis was placed on on how well Parker Jane was doing so far, and how it appeared as if she would continue to do so. looking back now, i see how this became a very important time for Erin and i in our coping with the impending surgery. pressure was removed from the equation and we found ourselves able to view the circumstance in a new and more optimistic light.

it was at Parker Jane’s six month visit that Erin and i informed Dr. Salem that we would like to schedule the surgery. while instantly making it more of a reality, scheduling the surgery actually relaxed Erin and i a bit more; there was an end in sight to our worry. at the conclusion of the check-up, Dr. Salem noted that Parker Jane was in great shape to go ahead with the surgery. and so it was scheduled: November 8.

time went by very quickly at this point. Parker Jane began developing much more rapidly. her spirit and spunk and overall awesomeness began to burst through. what a time. what a feeling. what a sense of pride and astonishment and thankfulness. what an awareness of life and love. we were hooked. we were believers.

this feeling, these feelings, they brought a new warmth to the household. Erin and i began working on our bond, discussing and slowly planning the life we wanted for us and our daughter. we saw progress and success and value and happiness in a new light, having stripped away unnecessary roadblocks and concerns and societal structures. we were good, very good, but very nervous.

November 8

12:30am: Parker Jane eats for the last time before her surgery.

8:30am: check-in at the hospital. we wait to be called. an hour passes. in classic Parker Jane form, not a peep came from her mouth as she waited, hungry, unaware of where she was and what was about to happen. Erin and i were so proud of her patience, we still are.

9:30am: we are escorted into a large hospital room where patients are prepped for surgery. we are given a mini hospital gown for Parker Jane. The Anesthesiologist explains the anesthetic process and risks involved.

10:45: Parker Jane is fully checked in and prepped for surgery. Erin, carrying Parker Jane, and i, are escorted across the hall into a large and cold operating room. Parker Jane is laid on her back on a table and she looks to us. Dr. Salem enters the room and says hello. the Anesthesiologist asks Erin and i if we are ready. we look at Parker Jane. she seems confused but still does not fuss. we say yes. a small mask is placed over Parker Jane’s nose. she fights it. Erin and i retreat to our happiest memories while our daughter is put to sleep. less than ten seconds later, Parker Jane is completely knocked out. we are escorted out of the room and told that we would be visited some time between 12:30 and 1pm. this becomes, by far, the hardest part of the entire day.

Erin and i slowly and quietly make our way back to the waiting room we began in. Erin sets to work on billing and invoices and busy duties her head can escape in to. i retreat to the iPod.

11:50am: i venture to the cafeteria for tuna salad sandwiches. Erin and i eat in the hallway and discuss possible holiday plans. we look ahead, we talk of the future; there is a quiet confidence in our voices.

12:30pm: Dr. Salem peeks into the waiting room from outside the door and motions to meet him outside. his face is calm and relieving. he holds a piece of paper in his left hand. Dr. Salem proceeds to explain that the surgery was as successful as planned. and then he shows us the piece of paper: two pictures. the first picture shows Parker Jane’s Pulmonary Valve before surgery. the second picture, after. a difference of 9mm in the valve opening separates the two pictures. unbelievable. truly, truly unbelievable.

it is another half hour before we can see Parker Jane. when we enter the hospital room she is crying; confused, groggy, very hungry. we kiss her and assured her. Erin rocks her in a chair. Parker Jane falls asleep. an hour later i take over. Parker Jane wakes. we play. she attempts to remove her ankle I.V.. still, she is not allowed food. and still, as had been the case earlier, not a peep, no fuss. finally, we are given the clearance to feed Parker Jane and oh how she eats. and then we play some more.

Dr. Salem arrives to check Parker Jane at 3:30pm. she checks out great and we are given the clearance to leave the hospital sometime around 6pm.

at 4:30pm Dr. Salem stops in to say goodbye for the day. a second check of Parker Jane brings him to say that we can leave at 5pm. we thank Dr. Salem, slowly gathered up our belongings and change Parker Jane from gown to clothes.

at 4:50pm we leave the hospital.

we arrive home exhausted from the day, all three of us. we play a bit, Parker Jane eats dinner and soon after goes down for the night. not long after, Erin and i retire to bed. we recount the day, and the miraculous nature of it, and our thanks. our daughter is safe.

Grandpa and Grandma Wright, Grammy Corbal, Great Grandma Zoccoli and Grandpa Tony came from north and south to visit. we all spent the weekend together, reveling in the wonder that is Parker Jane. we shared our thanks, discussed the baffling reality of out-patient heart surgery and found comfort in family. not missing a beat, Parker Jane wowed us with her strength and good nature. she appeared to almost have more energy than before. maybe our imagination, but maybe not.

it is now four days since the surgery. retrospect displays the life altering importance of the event for Erin and i, having been shown just how high we were lifted by the addition of Parker Jane, through just how low we would surely fall if she were to leave us. Erin and i have settled into a warm and peaceful head-space which has engulfed us. we have our daughter, we have each other, and therefore we have it all.

november 7 2007

november 9 2007

*our most sincere thanks to everyone for their support, positive thoughts and well wishes during this time. Corbalfamily is strong, very strong now, and you are a crucial part of this strength. and so, on-ward we go with the adventure.

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Written by Rick on November 12, 2007.

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

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an introduction to our nation’s pasttime

thursday, september 27 was a banner day in the short history of Parker Jane. yes, on this Indian summer night, Parker Jane, myself, mama and friends Burnie and Lisa, attended the Los Angeles Dodgers/Colorado Rockies 7:05pm baseball game.

a nice walk from the “free” parking by Elysian Park saw Parker Jane light-up and wriggle around in her front-carry Sunggli at the sounds, bright lights and crowds of people she was slowly approaching. we made our way into the stadium, collected our Fan Appreciation Fleece Dodger Blankets, and weaved our way to a section of seats directly behind homeplate, second deck. Parker Jane was released from her Snuggli confines to settle in my lap, facing the field.

for a good three innings, Parker Jane sat (trading off between mine and Erin’s laps) watching the game, not a peep from her mouth.

during the fourth inning Parker Jane ate, and entertained, and ate some more, and entertained a whole lot more.

in the fifth inning the Dodgers scored two runs; shouts and applause erupted from the home crowd. the sudden volume increase took Parker Jane by surprise and she began to cry. Erin, holding her at the time, rocked her a bit to calm her. however, the giant flashing light of the Jumbortron telling us all to “Make Some Noise” would see to it that a bit of rocking was not enough at this time. So, Erin got up and walked with Parker Jane to the concessions area.

in five to seven minutes time the two were back and Parker Jane was all smiles. the sixth inning went quick.

during the seventh inning stretch, Erin and i both held Parker Jane up and out in front of us as we sang “Take Me Out to The Ballgame.” Parker Jane smiled and laughed nearly the entire time. very soon after, Erin pulled out a fleece wrap and Parker Jane welcomed the prospect.

by the end of the seventh inning, Parker Jane was asleep.

and so she remained, through the eighth inning. and the ninth inning. and as we exited the stadium recounting the pathetic 10-2 Dodger loss we had just witnessed. and on the walk to the car. and all the way home.

at 11:30pm, Parker Jane was laid down into her crib, still wearing her pink and grey Dodgers t-shirt.

corbalfamily films presents: the wave

* to all family and friends who care so deeply, please allow me to ease your minds with the knowledge that while Parker Jane did sport a Dodgers t-shirt, she is not a Dodger fan. at the moment she has no team affiliation. except for the Oakland Athletics, which she will surely and eventually choose as her team, when she is old enough to understand choosing a team.

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Written by Rick on October 3, 2007.

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

This post has 4 Comments.