Monday, June 30, 2008

Picture of the Day: Walking in Mama's shoes

After church on Sunday, Meilani got the urge to try out the world walking in Mama's shoes.

Family Fun Day: Farmer's Market and a Picnic

Saturday is our "Family Fun Day," which means Mama takes a break from her studies so we can all go on an adventure. This week we road downtown to the Farmer's Market in the Roanoke Square. The first stop: the homemade ice cream stand. We couldn't avoid it, really, since the ice cream man was just taking the lid off his giant ice cream machine and handing out free tasters of this beautiful ice cream with Virginia cherries mixed in it.

This was a special occasion because we let Miss Meilani have her very first taste of real ice cream. She was hooked in a second. Good thing the taster spoons were small and there were lots of other fun diversions at the market. This is more than a produce farmer's market. They also sell homemade arts and crafts, soaps, lotions and jewelry. We picked out some yummy tomatoes, peppers, peaches, apples and squash and then checked out some of the other cool stuff.

Meilani found this cool stuffed dog that looked so realistic she just had to give a hug. He was almost as big as her. She also enjoyed a little gardening shop full of organic seeds with fun tools and baskets.

After the market, we headed over to our fave grocery store, Ukrops, where they were having a 1-year anniversary celebration. The birthday party included lots of samples like make-your-own trail mix, sushi and turkey roll wraps. Ericlee got to go in the money room - a plastic little closet with real money and coupons flying around. You had to grab as much as you could out of the air during your allotted time. He came away with a handful of coupons for the store and five crisp one dollar bills. Not too bad.

We finished up our Saturday with a picnic dinner down by the reservoir with our friends, Mary-Liz and Heidi. Our potluck was a pesto pasta, bruschetta, salad with jicama and orange, zucchini cake and lemon squares. What a feast! We indulged the peace and quiet of the water and beautiful landscape.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Picture of the Day: Exploring at the Playground

Exactly one year later you can see that Meilani's hair is longer, her muscles are stronger, and she is more beautiful than before. This playground is a favorite spot for Meilani and Daddy. It is a great place for her to interact with other children and practice her climbing skills.
-by Ericlee

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just Me & My Dad: Hiking the Cascades

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On Thursday, Ericlee and Meilani went hiking with another daughter and daddy, Craig and Maya. The mommies stayed and worked on school work while the group went to explore the Cascades, a nearby waterfall. This area is full of hidden surprises.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Picture of the Day: Our Fish is Swimmin'

The weather in Virginia has been surprisingly mild and not too humid since we arrived. Today was the first day we actually felt a little "heat" at 90 degrees. We escaped to cool off in the Hollins pool. Meilani can now swim the length of the Olympic size pool with her little floatie jacket on and no help. She's ready for official swimming lessons!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Picture of the Day: Meilani discovers Lightning bugs

One of our favorite parts about living here in Virginia is watching the lightning bugs (or fireflies) wink their lights at night. We like to take evening walks and try to catch them. Today, Ericlee took Meilani to the local library and they read books about lightning bugs and even made their own paper ones. The theme for the summer reading program is bugs so Meilani is getting her fill of new knowledge.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picture of the Day: Potluck Posing

Sunday evening we went to a potluck with friends from the Children's Literature graduate program. We found ourselves at the home of Amanda Cockrell, the program's director. Her house has all sorts of colorful, interesting art pieces, statues and plants. Meilani was trying to make this lady statue smile for the camera. "Say Cheese!"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Picture of the Day: Making New Friends and Visiting Old Ones

On Sunday, we had lunch with one of Ericlee's old roommates, Justin Pickering, who was also part of the Cutting Edge singles group at our church. We haven't seen Justin for seven years! What a treat to meet him and his wife (from Grand Rapids) and his two boys, George and newborn Franklin.

Meilani and George are only a few days apart in age and they both have the high-energy, firstborn personalities. They had so much fun bouncing on the furniture together and riding trikes. We are excited Justin and his family live here in Roanoke closeby our apartment.

Gilmores celebrate a belated Father's Day

On Saturday, we decided to take a little adventure for a belated Father's Day with Ericlee. We started with a pancake breakfast at Daddy's request. Then we all needed to get out of our little one-bedroom apartment on campus and take a break from the college world. We joined up with a group we read about in the paper called KIVA, which stands for Kids In the Valley Adventuring. They had an outdoor field trip planned. We met at the Roanoke Co-op and got a cool tour of all the organic and yummy natural foods sold there. They even served up healthy snacks for the 50-some people who came. They had story time for the kids and then we headed out for a nearby trail into the woods.

The theme of the day as a bug hunt. They passed out little cards and you could search along the trail for the various bugs. Meilani didn't want to stay in the hiking backpack very long. She wanted out and onto the trail to look for bugs and butterflies like the other kids. This is really the first time she's hiked on her own so it was fun to watch her wonder at every turn.

We met other families and chatted about parenting and fun places to go in Roanoke.

We packed a picnic lunch of grilled eggplant & cheese sandwiches, which we ate after our hike with some fresh cantaloupe. Then Miss Meilani settled in for a nice afternoon nap. She was pooped! Saturday night Mommy and Daddy had a "date night in" and watched the great foodie movie, No Reservations. Needless to say, Father's Day was a little more meaningful this weekend now that we know we are pregnant and soon Ericlee will be a Daddy of two!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Picture of the Day: Painting Her Masterpiece

Meilani had her first run with fingerpaints on Saturday. We stripped her down to her pullup and let her go to town, creating art pieces for our walls. We now have a one-bedroom apartment decorated in "Early Childhood Modern." The texture of the paint on fingers is just as much fun as actually making the designs on paper. We loved that Meilani took time to name each of her paintings. We have "Water," "Soup," "Happy Face," and "Feet."

Friday, June 20, 2008


It's official! We took the pregnancy test this morning. Meilani is going to have a little brother or sister in 2009. We're guessing the due date is early March.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Picture of the Day: Our Equestrian in the Making

Meilani and Ericlee have been bonding while Mama is in class. Their daily activities include long walks to see the horses. Hollins is a big equestrian school so they have their own stables here. Meilani fed the horsies her Trader O's (with the help of Daddy.) She loves to call out to the horses but gets a little intimidated when they come up close.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picture of the Day: Teeter Totter Time

Wednesday night we headed over to visit our friends, Jan and Pat Wright, who live here in Roanoke. They have a park right in front of their house. Meilani had to sneak in some toddler teeter totter time. (Say that baby three times fast.) One of the things we love about Virginia are the beautiful evenings and the blue look of the mountains as the sun is going down.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Picture of the Day: Grad School Living for Toddlers

We're starting a new feature on our blog called PICTURE OF THE DAY. We will share one photograph each day, depicting a favorite scene, experience or adventure from our time here in Virginia. We will still include occasional stories but we thought this would be a fun way to document our summer in the South. Enjoy!

We made it here Monday to Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. We left Ericlee's aunt and uncle in Greenville, South Carolina about noon and pulled into our "new" apartment around 8:30 p.m. The trip was long and Meilani was calling for "home" a lot. When we arrived at our new digs, we had a whole new adventure before us. Our one bedroom apartment consists of a kitchen with stove and refrigerator, a front room with that lovely industrial dorm furniture and scratchy, plaid cushions, and a bedroom with a single bed, dresser and chair. Of course, we had to get creative on the sleeping arrangement. We borrowed another mattress from a friend and set up a "king-sized" bed on the floor. Our cousins gave Meilani an indoor tent from IKEA for a gift and she's declared that her new bedroom. A pile of blankets and a Dora sleeping bag make this new tent quite the snazzy set up for our toddler. (Yes, we are raising a resilient child.) She's already calling our apartment home!

Monday, June 16, 2008

"We're go-ning on a trip!"

Friday morning we left for our trip "east." Nana and Papa bought Meilani her first Little Einsteins DVD for the long plane ride to Atlanta. She's been singing that little ditty about going on a trip ever since. Only she sings "We're go-ning on a trip!" at the top of her lungs. With the help of lots of sticker books, a new doll from Nama, a fresh pack of twistable crayons and a coloring book and a deck of cards, we all survived. Daddy even took a snooze on our second flight while Meilani decorated him with cats and dogs stickers.

We arrived in Atlanta in one piece and were greeted at the airport by Ericlee's cousins, Paul and Cheri. They surprised us and got a babysitter for their kids and took us out to a classic Southern restaurant, the OK Cafe. The cafe was a funky neighborhood place with colorful art on the walls and diner-style seating. Believe it or not, this was "healthy Southern food" made with hormone-free meats and fresh local ingredients. Ericlee checked out the Meatloaf with Creole sauce while Dorina and Meilani tried rotisserie lemon chicken with collard greens and cheesy cheesy macaroni and a cornbread muffin.

Daddy dived into this colossal Southern-style strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Dorina had her fave, key lime pie, to finish it. What a Southern welcome! We enjoyed our time catching up with Cheri and Paul. We haven't seen them in three years.

Meilani was thrilled to arrive at Cheri and Paul's house, especially after she saw their kids' playroom. The time change wasn't stopping her. She went straight for the trains and kitchen.

Saturday morning Meilani was greeted in the playroom by her now 6-year-old cousin, Emma Grace. They became fast friends because they have similar temperaments. They both are high energy, sporty chicks.

Cheri and Paul along with Emma Grace and Harrison took us for an excursion into the city. We stopped at IKEA for some goods to add to the new Gilmore apartment (in Virginia). We also had an involuntary tour of downtown Atlanta as we took a big traffic detour. In the evening, Dorina cooked a Father's Day meal of Chicken Marsala and Tortellini for the clan. After dinner, we squeezed in a refreshing swim (yes, we're back in humidity!) at the neighborhood pool. Good times.

On Sunday, we celebrated Father's Day at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church where Paul is the Global Ministries pastor. Emma Grace graciously hung out with her little cousin in the nursery while we worshipped in the contemporary service. We even assembled the kids for a quick photo shoot in their Sunday best.

Cheri and Dorina bonded over shopping and cooking. They took a trip to Trader's Joes (They have one in Atlanta, but not Roanoke!) and dipped chocolate strawberries for Father's Day. Paul and Ericlee watched Tiger Woods make his epic comeback in golf.

Sunday night we drove to Greenville, South Carolina, and stayed with Ericlee's Uncle and Aunt. Uncle Danny and Auntie Kathy are profs at Bob Jones University. They were quite enamored with Meilani. She loved Uncle Danny's quizzes on numbers, fruits and the alphabet.

Monday morning we packed up the little Honda (borrowed from Ericlee's other uncle and aunt) and headed out for our final destination of Roanoke, Virginia. We finally arrived Monday night, exhausted but ready for six weeks of adventure.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lazo-Gilmores continue the camping tradition

While I was growing up, we would spend our summer vacations camping across America. We would road trip to different sites or visit family members and camp in between. Those hours in the family van and sitting around the camp fire are such strong memories today. We decided to continue the tradition by taking at least one summer camping trip a year with my parents. This year we went on a new adventure to the Eastern Sierras to the little mountain town of Bishop, California. I actually got a gig teaching a poetry workshop at the Inyo County Library in Bishop and this served as our incentive for traveling 6-plus hours to this spot in particular.

We found Four Jeffrey campground in the Inyo National Forest right outside of town. I was a little bit nervous about finding a place on the internet without ever checking it out. The place was gorgeous. Our site was right near the river stream and just across from the bathrooms (which, by the way, were flush toilets and very clean with a shorter seat for Meilani). The view of the snow-capped Sierras in the distance was absolutely breathtaking. We even had this giant bear box to store all our food and supplies in.

We took Meilani camping last year but as a 1-year-old she was more into the sights and smells. This year she was into the touch experiences: feeling the cold water on her toes, digging in the dirt (especially right after Nana had cleaned her hands) and poking at little bugs on the ground. She also helped Daddy setting up the tent and pounding the stakes into the ground. Such a big girl!
I actually got my wiggly worm to sit down on a rock right near our camp site for a little photo shoot. She LOVES the water and was fascinated to watch it rushing over the rocks. A family camping next to us was into fishing. Meilani watched the kids fish and celebrated with them when they caught a little something. Papa promised to take Meilani fishing when she turns five. (We'll see if she remembers that.)

On Friday, after we set up camp, we went on a short hike to explore the area. We found a trail and hiked up to a little waterfall with Nana and Papa. Meilani has definitely added "hiking" to her vocabulary. Hiking is especially fun with Nana who knows all kinds of camping songs from her college days. Meilani enjoyed the one about O'Leary's cow that started the Chicago fire. Meilani yelled the PLOP! at the end.

Nana also taught us how to find animal shapes in the rock and in the clouds. This one was a turtle head in our estimation.

Each evening we took some family time with just the three of us would walk through our campground and check out the wildlife. We saw varmints and even four deer. They came out at night and were tame enough to walk right up to people's camp sites. We indulged this quiet time together after such a busy school year.

On the way home we drove north on the 395 and snaked through Yosemite National Park. We saw the snow on Tuolumne Meadows and pointed out all the big trees to Meilani. Nana and Papa reminisced about the time we took this drive when Paul and I were in elementary school. After several hours of driving, the winding road spit us out on 120 and we took Highway 99 back home to Fresno. What a refreshing trip!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Kidspace: A Place to Stretch Her Wings

If it feels like we've been celebrating Meilani's 2nd birthday for weeks, we have. This was part of our effort not to make her birthday party too big and too overwhelming this year. That meant we had several groups of friends to celebrate with at different times - not to mention family. Last week we headed down to Ontario outside Los Angeles to hang out with Uncle Paul, Auntie Michelle and Baby Cynthia. On Tuesday, the boys headed out for a Birthday Deep Sea Fishing Trip (a present to my dad and Ericlee from their April birthdays). Meanwhile, the girls headed to a museum to help Meilani celebrate her twos. Kidspace is a cool museum in Pasadena with lots of creative, hands-on exhibits for little ones. We started out in the Early Childhood Center for Story time.
This stories-high climbing tower is at the center of Kidspace. It's a safe way for little ones to explore and climb on their own. Believe it or not, our climbing monkey Meilani declared it too high for even her. Go figure.
Next stop: The Trike Tracks. This very cool race track included trikes of all shapes and sizes for the kids to ride. There was even a roadway painted on the cement with stop and go signs. Everyone had their own personal helmet too!

Here we pause near the rainbow tile wall for a quick girls' pic with Auntie Michelle. Kidspace is really geared toward imaginative outdoor play. We enjoyed walking through the gardens.

One stop in the garden was this cool climbing wall. Meilani tried this one out. She wanted wasn't afraid to go up, up, up and then jump into Mama's arms! (Not exactly rock climbing technique...)

For Wednesday, Meilani's actual birthday, we all took a trip to a local park where they had a beautiful pond with ducks and turtles, a huge play area with sand and a walking trail.

Meilani shared her birthday sand toy from Auntie Mary and Uncle Tonio with the kids at the park. She taught them how to do it - such a 2-year-old thing. After a little urging, she was even content to share.

Daddy took Meilani over to the little "dining area" where she cooked up some pretend "hot soup" and "chicken." She drew designs in the sand while the rest of us enjoyed some relaxed, quality family time.

Back at the house, Meilani opened up a few more gifts, including a tempera paint set with special brushes and anti-spill cups. (Can you tell Auntie Shel is a teacher?) These were perfect to go with the new easel Nana and Papa got her for her birthday. How coordinated. And our growing 2-year-old had a chance to spread her wings.