Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions...

Every year we go into San Francisco a few days before Christmas to see the Macy's windows at Union Square and the kids each pick out an ornament to add to their collection that they'll eventually take with them. This year we stayed the night and had a lot more time to wander around the city.
We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory...after an hour and half wait that Alaina was especially grateful for since we spent it shopping!
We went to the St. Francis Hotel and saw the most incredible gingerbread house! It weighs over 1,000 pounds and is 100% edible. It was amazing. In the morning, we went to Golden Gate Park with the goal being to visit the California Academy of Science. But after 45 minutes of looking for a parking place, we finally had to take a spot about a mile and half away (according to our navigation system)! That should have been our first clue. When we made it to the museum, we noticed a huge crowd that wound around the front, down the stairs, past the bus stop, and beyond. Then we saw the ticket line. Just a few minutes later, a voice came over the PA and said there was going to be a 3 hour wait because the museum was filled to capacity and that all of the IMAX and planetarium tickets for the day had been sold! So, we got brave and went across the street to the De Young Museum of Art. We all really enjoyed it, even Ryan! When it was time to eat lunch, the line for the cafeteria was out the door, so we ended up coming back to Walnut Creek and eating at 3pm.
So, how bad can the economy be if we had to wait in line at Old Navy for an hour, wait 1 1/2 hours for The Cheesecake Factory, have to park 1 1/2 miles away, have a 3 hour wait for a museum, and have to drive all the way home for lunch because the cafeteria is too crowded?!
We always spend Christmas Eve at the Visitors Center on the Oakland Temple grounds. We watch the Nativity story from Luke 2 and wander around the great exhibits.
The grounds are so beautifully lit up for the whole Christmas season. It is wonderful to bring the family here the night before Santa we can keep things in perspective and remind the kids of the true meaning of Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Pictures Again, Already?!

This is it! Everyone is sort of smiling and generally looking happy to be together.

When my brother and his wife were here for Thanksgiving, we decided to have them take our Christmas picture. I wanted to do it in the treehouse, but the sun wasn't cooperating and all of the pictures looked so dark (thank goodness for digital cameras, so I could see the pictures first) so we went to the other side and Brian took about 45 pictures in total (again, I am grateful for digital cameras!).
This is how I felt after we were finally done! He did a great job, if anyone needs pictures taken, and Leeandra was great at keeping the kids attention!

The Nutcracker Field Trip

Last week I went on Ryan's 2nd grade field trip to see the Nutcracker. I guess the boys weren't paying attention when the ballet was explained to them beforehand (that the Nutcracker IS a ballet). About 15 minutes into the hour long show, one of the boys in our group leaned over to me and loudly whispered, "How much more dancing is there?!" When I explained that it was all dancing he had a perplexed look on his face. After a few minutes, he leaned over again and said, "When is the bad guy going to come out?"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finding the (almost) Perfect Tree

Why couldn't Ryan smile like this for our family Christmas card photo?
The day after Thanksgiving we always go to Santa's Tree Farm in Half Moon Bay and search for the perfect tree. This is a bit like hunting for the perfect pumpkin...there is always a flat side! We finally settled on the tree behind us in this photo and we took turns cutting it down. We let Andy stand on the back of the van, holding the tree to the top of it, while I carefully drove to the tree bagging and tie-down hut. He loved it! When we got the tree up in the house, we realized it was pretty crooked, so after a few hours of lopping off the uneven sides, I had pretty much reshaped the whole tree and it looks straight enough. Dave is really pushing for a fake tree...where is his sense of adventure?!The finished product. I know, it looks crooked, but really it is just the angel. Cabo looks cute, though, huh?! And, my awesome tree watering gadget is completely undetectable.


Okay, so I am a gadget gal. I love gadgets and have found the best one ever invented (for Christmas trees, that is). It is a 4-foot tall tube with a sensor stick inside that has a small styrofoam ball on the end of it. You fill your tree stand with water (the ONLY time this season you'll have to crawl under your tree and get pine needles and sap in your hair) and then hide the tube with the stick in it through the branches of your tree by sliding it into the tree stand. You make a mark on the stick so you know where the water level should be, then you forget about it for a day or so. You just glance at stick and when the water level is low, the styrofoam ball sinks a little and your mark will be lower, so you just pour water in the convenient clear funnel on the end of the stick and when the mark is above the tube, you know your tree has enough water...without getting your fingers stuck in the sap filled stand. Yes I have done that. I have to say, this is the best gadget I have seen all year! And the best $10 I have ever spent.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I miss my Becca!

She's gone. Well, not gone, but away for a week. Every year the 5th graders at Indian Valley go to Camp Loma Mar in Half Moon Bay for "Environmental Camp". Since Andy and Alaina already went a few years ago, I wasn't really thinking about how Becca's absence would effect me. We wrote letters to her that she'll get daily, but other than that there is no parental interaction allowed. They have camp staff and the teachers stay for the
week also, but the kids can't call home and we can't visit. So, for five days they indoctrinate your child on how to save trees (no paper towels, sparing use of toilet paper, and NO real Christmas trees, etc.) and for five days you have one less child at home.
Becca has always been what people call a "firecracker" or "sparkplug". She is such a great helper and makes friends every where she goes. I love her infectious giggle and that we can have fun doing the silliest things together. (Like running on a mad dash through Target!) Often she leaves notes from a magic elf that the dishwasher has been unloaded or some things have been put away...I miss that, too! Becca has always had a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, just like my dad, and you know something is going to be entertaining if she is involved in it.
So, tomorrow Becca comes home and I will be so happy to see her. I can't wait for her eyes to light up when she sees the REAL Christmas tree, all decorated and ready for the holidays. More on that in the next post.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

So much to be thankful for...

Dave, Leeandra, Becca, Alaina, Andy, Brian, Ryan, Cabo at the Heather Farm Dog Park in Walnut Creek.
The Aranda's, Nicholson's, and Dittman's joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.

It's time I got back on here and expressed some gratitude. Having just had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, and realizing this holiday is over and another one is just beginning, I am reflecting on my many blessings.
  • Health: although I just got over an ear infection and a sinus infection, and I have rheumatoid arthritis, Sherman's Disease, and Neuralgia Parasthetica, I am relatively healthy! I am so grateful for my hands that can type and my legs that can take me to the gym to work off all that turkey.
  • Church: although I have a long way to go in my scripture study, I am thankful for the sacrifices that have been made so I can worship freely as I choose.
  • Hair: although it always looks less than perfect, I am thankful to have thick hair.
  • Children: although they often make me crazy, they are my life and I am so grateful to be their mom. They grow so fast and I already know I will have so many regrets. I have "Cats in the Cradle" going through my head all the time. I try to stop what I am doing whenever possible to savor these moments while my kids are young.
  • Husband: although he is most often out of town, I am thankful for his ambition and drive to succeed. I am grateful for the sacrifices he makes for our family. I am lucky to have him.
  • Friends: although I haven't been very good at keeping in touch lately, I am so thankful for wonderful friends who are such amazing examples and have endless talents. I have so much to learn!

Okay, back to brother and his wonderful new wife of four months came from Oregon to be with us. They brought their cat, who didn't really love our dog, but pretty much stayed out of sight after her initial hissing fit.

The kids couldn't believe their dad let a cat in the house. She was really very sweet, just not to Cabo, so we left Lucy in the house and took him to the dog park. It was such a beautiful day and I still can't get over the weather here in California. It is the end of November and I am still picking tomatoes, lemons, and gardenias!

Our good friends Chris and Albert Aranda and Deven and Nancy Nicholson and their children all came for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a fun time visiting and eating. This was our best turkey ever. I even got compliments today (the 3rd day of leftovers !)

I love to be home for the holidays and am thankful for my many blessings!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Bike

A few weeks ago Andy (my 13 year old) was on an overnight bike trip with a group of Young Men from our church. He somehow managed to get a stick stuck in his spokes which caused him to flip headlong over the handlebars and crash his bike. He managed to get back to the camp, but his bike was unusable. So, when I picked him up the next day he gave me handful of broken bike shifter parts. After getting an estimate of nearly $100 (the whole bike was only $250) my brilliant husband suggested taking it to the place we bought it, where we had purchased the extended warranty. No questions asked, they took the bike and said it would be ready in 3 days. After 2 trips to the store and 3 weeks of frustrating phone calls and waiting, it still wasn't fixed properly so I asked for a new bike. And got it! It never hurts to ask.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Naked People

Okay, I finally decided to try to write something to start this blog that has had a URL for about 6 lonely months and the first thing I type shows up in Hindi language! Not a good start. I have enjoyed reading so many blogs and really don't have much to say myself, but I thought I'd try it for a while.

I just wanted to know if anyone else is annoyed with the naked people in the gym locker room. You know, the ones that walk around completely naked, then proceed to have full conversations with people, clothed and naked alike, and then they dry their hair and do their make up...all butt naked! Why do people do this? Maybe I have become a prude in my old age, but really, the rest of us don't want to see so much of you.

Oh, I just disabled my Hindi transliteration. That got rid of the language problem. Now I have no excuses!