Friday, August 31, 2007

Swim Lessons

Practicing with Miss Vanessa

Waiting on the step

With his report card

Drew just finished two weeks of swim lessons at our gym. He had a lot of fun and is a lot more confident in the water. He can't swim on his own yet, but I think he will soon!

California State Fair

I'm not really a fair person. In fact, I don't like crowds, I don't like the heat, and I don't trust most of those rickety rides that they just put together a few days ago. But I usually do make it out to the state fair every year. I usually go in the morning on a weekday to avoid too many people and too much heat. But this year we went on opening weekend! Crazy, I know. But we actually had the perfect day at the fair.

We went with another family which was great because the kids could go on rides together, the moms could chat and the dads could hang out too. We got there at 10 and left by 2 before it got too hot and we avoided any potential kid melt-downs. We saw the baby animals, went in the petting zoo, did the kiddie rides, ate corn dogs and funnel cake (mmm, fair food!) checked out the bunnies and birds and did a quick trip through toytopia--where the kids could play with lots of trains. We finished our day with a carousel ride, then poured on the hand sanitizer and headed home to the air-conditioning. Getting in the car, Drew exclaimed "what a fun day!"

Drew and Shaelyn on the bee ride

Riding the roller coaster

Bumper Boats

Drew getting a ride

The fair makes Ava tired

Mommy and Drew on the carousel

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Our Week in So Cal

Last Sunday we drove down to Southern California so that we could attend Grandpa Weiss's memorial service in Santa Barbara. The service was very nice and not too sad. It really was a celebration of life with his three daughters each sharing stories about him, things they did together, places they went. It was very sweet. The only part that found me a little teary was when one of Grandpa's friends stood up to talk. He knew him from softball and lawn bowling and said he wanted Ed's family to know that the softball team supports them and would everyone from the team stand up. About half the church stood up. Later he asked all the lawn bowlers to stand up, and the other half of the church stood up. It was wonderful to see that Grandpa had so many friends and that they were all there to celebrate him. After the service we had our traditional Weiss family Chinese food dinner and enjoyed spending time together.

Dan had to fly home on Tuesday morning so he could work. But I had planned to help my sister move to college on Friday so I stayed with the kids at my mom's house. My parents had to work during the week so we didn't do much, just kind of hung around the house. We did visit my Dad, Mark on his birthday on Wednesday and had lunch with him in Simi Valley. I also got to visit with my friends Jamie and Laura which was nice. Then we helped Rachel move on Friday. Sunday we went to the welcome bbq at her school in Camarillo and tried to take the kids to the beach, but it started raining when we got there! My dad drove back with me on Monday so I wouldn't have to go alone (thanks Dad!) and we actually did the drive in about 6 hours. I think that is some kind of record for travelling with kids. We made a quick trip to the zoo this morning before bringing my dad to the airport so he could fly home. I am exhausted from being away from home and on my own with the kids and doing so much driving. I need a vacation!

All Grown Up

Well, its official. My baby sister is all grown up. I helped her move into her dorm room at CSUCI this past Friday. We had to figure out how to fit two beds, two desks, and two dressers into her little dorm room without blocking the two closets or the door. We tried many different configurations and finally came up with what we thought was best. We helped organize her desk, put her toiletries in the bathroom, and unpack her clothes. We ate with her at the cafe across the quad from her room and then left her with her roommates.

The experience brought back memories of when I was moving into my dorm room at UC Davis 11 years ago. I remember being excited, but also scared. I remember feeling like my life was about to change. Only this time, I could see it a little more from the parent's perspective. Of being proud of the person my sister has become, and wanting every good thing for her. But finding it a little difficult to let go. I want to call her every day and ask how her classes are, did she remember to go to the mandatory dorm meeting? And does she realize the sacrifice our parents are making for her to be there? Of course she doesn't. Not yet. I distinctly remember the transition from wanting your parents to leave you alone (high school) to actually appreciating them and wanting their advice on everyday things (college and beyond).

Next Tuesday it's my turn to drop my baby off at school and leave him on his own. Drew is starting preschool and while I've been looking forward to the break it will give me all summer long, I'm starting to feel nostalgic. I'm remembering back to when he was a tiny baby and his future was so uncertain we didn't know if he'd make it to preschool. For the past three and a half years I've been his advocate and his voice in every situation. And for the first of what I'm sure will be many times, I have to trust that I've taught him the skills he will need to navigate this new environment. To use his words, to share and be kind to others. And hopefully he'll have fun, make new friends and learn a little something along the way. He's growing up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In Loving Memory of Grandpa Weiss

From the Santa Barbara News-Press
August 17, 2007 9:07 AM

Edwin Weiss, 84, died on Wednesday evening, August 15 in the Mission Terrace Convalescent Hospital of Santa Barbara.

The son of parents, Alex and Alice Weiss who had emigrated from Latvia, Ed was born in Portland, Oregon on January 25, 1923.

Ed was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Shirley, in 2000. Ed was also preceded in death by his sister Erna Grimsrud of Portland. Following the death of his beloved son Edwin K. Weiss, Ed continued to be a wonderful father to his 3 daughters and their families: Kathleen Himmelberger of Palo Alto; Constance and son-in-law Bill Dravenstott of Ashland, OH; and Jennifer Weiss of Mission Viejo. He was the proud grandfather of six grandsons: Robert Dravenstott of Denver, CO; Richard Dravenstott of Geneva, Switzerland; John Dravenstott of Cleveland, OH, and Ron Dravenstott, of Ashland, OH; Daniel Himmelberger of Citrus Heights, and Scott Himmelberger of Palo Alto. He had 6 great grandchildren.

Ed was an active participant in life until the day of his stroke (July 28, 2007). He was raised in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University with an engineering degree. Ed & Shirley were married on VJ Day, August 14, 1945 in Fort Benton, Montana. He worked as a civil engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Bonneville Dam, OR, in Detroit, MI and in Oak Park, IL. Ed and Shirley were foster parents to more than a dozen children. Ed was a certified VFR small airplane pilot. Ed and Shirley built two family homes in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, before moving to a Chicago suburb. Upon retiring to Santa Barbara in 1978, they purchased the Kan-Do Services Company and Ed worked part time another 10 years in the handyman business.

Ed and Shirley were active members of First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, taking a particular interest in woodworking and making crafts for the annual Holly Faire. They were also avid lawn bowlers at the Santa Barbara Lawn Bowls Club. Ed continued his love of softball with weekly games of Senior Softball. He competed as the oldest runner in a 5K run at age 77, and continued to jog several times a week on the beach near his home. Since Shirley's death, Ed was a dedicated weekly volunteer at Cottage Hospital.

Ed has been an inspiration for his family and friends for his strong work ethic and his honest reputation. His warmth and love will be deeply missed.

A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church on Monday, August 20th, 2007 at2:00 p.m. The Rev. Hillary Crisley will officiate. A reception will follow in the fellowship hall.

Memorial donations may be made to

First United Methodist Church, 305 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA., Santa Barbara Lawn Bowls Club, 1216 De La Vina St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, and Seniors Softball Leagues of Santa Barbara.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

All About Ava

Ava sporting one raggedy pigtail, fresh from her nap

Ava had her 15 month well baby check-up this morning. This was our first appointment with our new pediatrician and so far I am happy with her. She got to see both kids and suggested I make an appointment for her to take a look at Drew and discuss his health history so she can get to know him. I liked that idea.

But, this post is about Ava. So here are her stats:

Weight: 19 pounds 9 ounces (Between the 5th and 10th percentile)
Height: 30.75 inches (50th percentile)
Teeth: four (two on the top and two on the bottom)

The doctor said that Ava is growing just fine, she is just petite. She has stayed on her growth curve so I guess she'll just be small. The Dr. also said to give her less milk and she may eat more food. So we will try that. We also talked about Ava's dry skin and ways to keep her environment hypoallergenic. I wonder if the dogs will interfere with that...

Ava is so much fun! When she's not having a tantrum. She seriously seems to have just those two extemes. Happy, funny, talking, laughing baby OR screaming, kicking, flailing, crying tantrum baby. And you just never know which one you're going to get! She loves to play with Drew and they have a lot of fun together. But sometimes she grabs his toys and runs away or touches something he wants for himself and then the battle is on!

Ava has learned a few baby signs. She knows the sign for more, down, flower, dog. She made up her own sign for "I want that." She can say mommy, daddy, Drew, doggy, no (it sounds like this: nuh nuh nuh nuh), up, uh oh, hi, bye, hug, book, ball, duck, bird. She knows where her head, hair, eyes, nose, teeth, and belly are. She knows that a cow says moo, a sheep says baa, and lions and dinosaurs roar. She also thinks that zebras roar because they are on the page next to the lion in her book.

Her favorite food is fruit, but she will only eat a banana if you give it to her in the peel. Try to give her a piece of one and she will slap it out of your hand. She seems to prefer fruits and vegetables and meat over carbs. She loves to drink water out of her sippy cup, but still drinks her milk out of a bottle. She is changing from a two nap schedule down to one. She likes to take a bath with her brother, but doesn't like getting out.

She can understand simple commands (bring me your ball, go get your shoes). She has no fear and loves to climb and bounce on anything she can get at. Her favorite activity, besides bouncing, is putting things into a container, then taking them out again. She also really enjoys looking at books. She can give hugs and kisses, clap, wave and dance. She is quite fond of her Daddy these days. She is quite a challenge and brings me to my breaking point almost every day, but I love her so much! There is nothing like a sweet hug from Ava, complete with a pat on the back, or snuggling her just before bedtime.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cardiology Check-up

Drew saw Dr. Parrish this morning. His O2 sats were 85%, the highest I've ever seen them, EVER. The Dr. said this could be an indication that the medication is working, but its not proof. The only way to really know is through cardiac catheterization. It's been three months since his last one. Here's the plan:

1. Increase the sildenafil to 3 ml three times a day.
2. In one month I will call Dr. Parrish and if we haven't seen any adverse side effects (dizziness, headaches, lethargy) we will increase to 3.5 ml three times a day.
3. In two months we will see the Dr. again and we will likely increase to 4 ml (the optimum dosage for his weight) three times a day. That would put us into October and we'd like to give the medicine a chance to work at the optimum dosage before we do the cath.
4. We will likely schedule the heart cath for January.
5. If it looks good we will schedule surgery for spring. If not, I guess we continue on the medication for a while longer and repeat the cath.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Under Construction

I haven't posted for a while because I've been waiting for these pictures:

We started construction on what Drew calls his "playground" on Saturday. Dan, my Uncle Terry, and our friend Andrew spent a good part of the day working on the playground despite the temperature being over 100 degrees! We also had help from our friends Pete and Charlie on Sunday. Then we continued adding the finishing touches Monday and Tuesday and now the kids are finally able to play on their play structure in their own backyard. Dan was joking about having mandatory play time each day for the kids since he had to work so hard to get that thing put together. From the looks on their faces I think they are quite pleased with it!

Dan and Pete working on step 2 of 23

Andrew working hard on the play structure

Dan and Drew testing out the top platform

Charlie and Dan working on the roof

The structure at the end of Day 2

Finally Finished

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Dan!

Today was Dan's 29th birthday.
We celebrated with margaritas before dinner
I made Dan's favorite dinner of chicken enchiladas and rice and beans

Dan got a new bike for his birthday!

And then we had ice cream cake!

What a fun day! Happy Birthday to the best husband and father! I love you!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


We had a great weekend at HB 10! The kids were still a little sick, but it was just some runny noses and a little extra whininess. Nothing that playing in the dirt all day, swimming in the lake, and eating yummy camp food couldn't take care of. They both slept well and had a lot of fun playing with the 7 other kids on the trip this year. Every year our organizers, Wes and Anne Marie, order a souvenir for all the campers and this year we got commemorative HB10 shirts with the names of everyone who has ever been on an HB trip on the back. And the kids got cute Lil Camper shirts. Thanks guys! They also had a slide show with pictures from all ten trips. Seeing the slide show made us realize we must continue our tradition!

Dan and I had an agreement that he would be the responsible parent on Friday night and I would be the responsible parent on Saturday night. That enabled me to play a game of 7, 11 or doubles with the crew on Friday. I haven't played that since HB5! Dan played "President" with his friends on Saturday night. It was great to be reunited with old friends and meet the new babies. Congratulations to Bryan and Carolyn who will be able to bring their new baby to HB next year!

Our Family of Campers

HB-the next generation
Sean, Emma, Eben, Owen, Jack, Drew, Ava, Kylee, Brynn

Ava loved playing in the dirt

Drew and Kylee playing together

A serious game of 7, 11 or doubles