Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Christmas Celebrations

The day after Christmas we got packed up and drove out to the Bay Area to visit Dan's family. We stayed with his mom and brother. When we got there the kids opened more presents and we had Chinese food for dinner. YUM! The kids were spoiled and played with their toys the rest of the night. The next day Grandma Kathy had gotten tickets to see Walking with the Dinosaurs so we all went to see it. It was a really cool show. The dinos were huge and loud! Drew required his ears to be covered during the perfomance, but really enjoyed watching it all. Ava wasn't as bothered by the noise, because she fell asleep in my lap at the very end, when the Mama T. Rex comes and saves her baby! Sunday we celebrated with Dan's dad and went to his house to open even more presents. I was worried the kids would think they got presents every day! But it was nice to have so many people to celebrate with. We had planned to visit LPCH while we were there, but Drew had a bit of a cold so we thought it would be better not to go this time. Hopefully we can visit next time.

While we were there Dan and I were lucky enough to get quite a bit of alone time. Every morning we would take a walk to Starbucks to get our morning coffee. We did some shopping at all the great sales. We both got new shoes and found a couple of other deals. We also had a nice date night, enjoying a good meal at a steak house and then walking through downtown Palo Alto. Another night we joined some friends for drinks after the kids were in bed and we even had a chance to get a run in while we were there. It was a really nice vacation! Don't worry the kids had fun too! They got to go the park twice, see the dino show, go to the Children's Musuem & Zoo and play with Grandma and Uncle Scott!

The kids with Grandma

Drew ready to open some presents

Ava opening a present at Grandma's

The kids with Grandpa

A big stegosaurus

Drew sitting with Grandma

Ava sitting with Mommy

Friday, December 26, 2008

Best Christmas Ever!

We had such a wonderful Christmas! When Drew was about 2 years old Dan and I decided that we wanted our kids to wake up in their own homes on Christmas morning. Up until then, we had been alternating which side of the family we spent Christmas with and would bring our gifts to their houses. Since we established that tradition in our own family I have to admit that I've sometimes felt a little sad about missing out on Christmas with my family in Southern California, and I'm sure Dan misses being with his family to celebrate as well. But this year we were able to see how amazing Christmas can be at home with just the four of us.

The kids slept in until 7:45--a Christmas miracle! Then Drew wanted to go see if Santa had come. He went to wake up Ava and she said "I don't want to say hi to Santa!" We explained that he had just come and left presents and was no longer in the house! She is too funny! When we got to the living room we saw that Santa had left a train around the Christmas tree! Both kids were excited about that! Then they opened their stockings and Santa presents--a big blue dinosaur for Drew and dress up trunk for Ava.

We opened the rest of our presents, with Drew playing Santa. He could figure out who each present was for and brought them to us. Ava was definitely the slowest opener, she preferred to play with each toy after it was opened and would move on to the next present only after she was finished playing. But, since we didn't have to go anywhere, she could! After we finished opening presents we had a yummy Christmas breakfast of scones and fruit. Then we stayed in our jammies all day and just played with all the toys and games. When Ava took her nap Drew got to watch a movie and we all had such a fun, relaxing day. Around 4 I finally got dressed and started cooking our Christmas dinner, ham and potatoes au gratin. It was the most awesome, perfect Christmas that I could have hoped for and made us realize why we wanted to keep our family at home in the first place.

Drew checking out the train that Santa brought

Ava opening her stocking

Drew loves his new dino!

Ava dressed up in various princess dresses all morning

I've got my coffee and my stocking...I'm ready for Christmas morning

Dan got a certificate for car washes in his stocking

The kids got matching guitars from Auntie and Uncle Thomas

A music video starring Drew & Ava

Drew in his new robe

Ava in her new robe

I got a Garmin Forerunner!

The aftermath

Drew watching his train go around and around

My fancy new running pants-I'm going to be so fast!

Christmas dinner

My favorite stocking item-a sparkly travel mug!

Christmas Eve

Even though it wasn't Christmas eve, I wanted to include last weekend when my parents and sister were here visiting, because it was the kickoff of Chritmas eve. We started off last Sunday by attending a Christmas eve service at Bayside. This is a HUGE church that has 13 Christmas eve services beginning the Thursday before Christmas. They say they expect to have 30,000 people attend their Christmas eve services this year. Dan and I went by ourselves last year and it was a pretty incredible show. The music is awesome, complete with 7 lit Christmas trees that flash in rhythm with the music. Here is a short video if you'd like to get a taste of the service:

Afterwards we all went out to dinner, then looked at some Christmas lights. It was a really fun way to celebrate Christmas with my family since we couldn't be with them on Christmas.

On the real Christmas eve we just had a fun day at home. Ava would not take off her tutu that Kathy sent her (thank you so much!). She wore it most of the day and enjoyed twirling around the kitchen in it. We decorated some sugar cookies to leave for Santa and then baked a birthday cake for Jesus together. Later that evening we attended another Christmas Eve service, this time at First Covenant, but I think we have been spoiled forever by Bayside's service. Afterwards our lovely friend Kate joined us for our traditional Christmas eve dinner of lasagna, Italian green beans and garlic bread. Yummy! After dinner we read some Christmas stories, opened a few presents and set out the treats for Santa. Finally, Dan read The Night Before Christmas to the kids before they went to bed.

Ava in tutu heaven

Baking a birthday cake

Family Photo after church

Cookies for Santa (and some birthday cake)

Reading before bed

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

For all of our friends in the blogosphere who we don't have addresses for...Merry Christmas from the Himmelbergers!

Dear Family and Friends, December 2008

2008 was a roller coaster ride of a year for the Himmelberger family!

Drew continued on at the same preschool where he now attends three mornings per week. He is getting really good at writing all his letters and it seems like he is close to being able to read simple words. We can’t believe that we are the parents of an almost 5-year old who will be starting kindergarten next year! Drew loves to stay busy and will ask every morning where we are going. He likes to make us laugh and has a very tender heart.

Ava started preschool this year at the same school as Drew. She gets to go one day a week and loves every minute of it. She is a very spirited little girl at home but apparently she has the teachers fooled because they think she is an angel. Ava is full of energy, constantly jumping, climbing or dancing. She is also a very compassionate child, always the first one to offer a hug and say “are you ok?” if she sees a friend that is sad or hurt.

Early this year we had an unfortunate break-in and the thieves made off with almost all of our “toys”. They stole our bikes, our bike trailer, our snowboards (Andrea had used hers once) and some other associated gear. Luckily it was all covered by insurance but it was a very scary feeling being violated like that. We have since made some improvements in our security and hopefully we can stay safe from now on.

Drew did have surgery this year in late May at Stanford Hospital. A post-operative infection kept us in the hospital for about six weeks so we all missed the month of June. The surgeon, Dr. Hanley, was able to do a one and a half ventricle repair which was the best we could hope for given Drew’s anatomy. Drew is doing awesome since the surgery! He is not taking any medication for the first time since he was born. His energy level has skyrocketed and he hasn’t been sick at all this year. Dan likes to tell people that it is like having a whole new kid.

Andrea has continued her running and competed in the same half marathon as last year, besting her previous time by over a minute per mile! She goes to the gym at least twice a week and usually does a longer run of 6+ miles on the weekend. She enjoys staying home with the kids (well most days she enjoys it!) and keeps a busy schedule with preschool, Community Bible Study and Mom Connection during the week, in addition to being the best wife and mom ever!

Dan continues to work from home as senior project manager for Health Outcomes Group. He enjoys riding his (new) bicycle as much as his schedule will allow and was able to complete two 100 mile rides, both in the California wine country. He has also been golfing and playing poker quite a bit with his friends from church whenever he can.

Just after Thanksgiving the whole family made our first trip to Disneyland joined by Grandma and Grandpa Stimac and Uncle Thomas. The kids had a blast and so did the adults. There were hardly any lines and the weather was nice and cool. Drew’s favorite ride was the monorail and Ava loved “It’s a Small World”.

We will be spending Christmas at our house in Citrus Heights and then driving to the Bay Area to spend a few days with Dan’s family.

We hope this letter finds you happy and healthy and we wish you a joyful holiday season and a prosperous new year.

Love and Blessings,

Dan, Andrea, Drew and Ava Himmelberger

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Party Pictures

We're ready for the party to start!

Kristina, Andrea, Rose, Darcy and Kate

The Ornament Exchange begins...we got some very creative ornaments this year~
A lovely trio of Jack to hang on your tree

Some large, glittery Christmas balls

Perhaps a condom ornament would look nice on your tree...

Oh, the Christmas balls were stolen!

Not sure what Tony unwrapped here, but I'm sure it was fabulous

Another large Christmas ball

The famed pornament makes a return appearance!

What man wouldn't want a tiny bottle of patron to hang on his tree?

And now some pictures of the cute couples...
Pete and Eric


Eric and Rose

Tony and Kristina

Pete and Jen

And this post would not be complete if I didn't include this little video...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Polar Express

Saturday was our 7th annual holiday party. Every year since we've been married we host a Christmas party for our friends and we always include an ornament exchange. It started out as a party for our college friends (we were fresh out of college), and usually ended up with some spending the night or some getting sick...Now we're all grown up and we don't usually end the night that way anymore! We had a great time celebrating with all of our friends who came from near and far. (pictures to follow)

My parents came up to take the kids for the evening so we could have a kid-free Christmas party. It was so nice to have them visit and to take the kids off our hands so we could do the last minute party preparations without distraction. We ended up getting some Polar Express tickets so they were able to take the kids to do that Saturday afternoon. From what I hear they had a great time on the train, waved at everyone they saw out the window, listened to the story and even allowed Santa to get close enough for a picture! Then they rang their bells the entire drive to my aunt's house in Sutter Creek, where they all stayed the night! I'm glad they were with the grandparents for that!