Monday, December 28, 2009

Visit with Grandpa Mark

The day after Christmas we decided to visit with Grandpa Mark and extend our celebrations another day. We got to see his new house, which is very cool. It’s a rustic hacienda with a lot of space and an interesting history to go with it. Apparently many years ago the person who lived there was quite the horticulturist, if you know what I mean. The police were onto him and when he was busted they found his indoor greenhouse and thousands of dollars stored up in a secret closet. Now my Dad just has lots of interesting storage space!

After we got the tour of the house, the kids played soccer for a bit in the backyard. Then we started our project—making scones from scratch. My dad is into baking right now and Ava loves scones! And she loves to help in the kitchen. So we made it a family affair and got to work. We all helped out with measuring, mixing, rolling and cutting the scones. While they were baking we enjoyed hanging out by the roaring fire and opening still more presents! When the scones came out of the oven they were a beautiful golden brown. We each got to enjoy a warm, delicious blueberry scone with a glass of cold milk before heading back for a birthday dinner with Auntie Rachel.

We had a great time visiting with Grandpa Mark and Eileen and hope that they will come and visit us soon!

Drew and Ava helping Grandpa Mark in the kitchen

Me and Ava stirring with Grandpa Mark

Rolling the dough

Pressing the blueberries into the dough

Drew opening presents with Eileen

Drew is excited to get a nerf gun!

Ava got an art easel

Grandpa Mark got some GU chomps

The finished scones. Yum!

Christmas Day

Christmas morning, Drew woke up about 7:30 (pretty late for Christmas morning!) and came in to get us. We all got up and headed out to the living room to see if Santa came. He did! He filled up all of our stockings and left some gifts for the kids. Santa brought our family a Wii! He also brought Drew a Hotwheels truck, Ava a princess, and a bunch of games and accessories for the Wii. Thank you Santa!

Dan and I celebrating our 14th Christmas together

Drew opening a present

Ava playing with her favorite stocking item

Drew and Uncle Thomas

Cousin Meghan and Rachel on Christmas morning

Dad and Uncle Joe

Me and my Mom

Uncle Thomas with his Christmas loot

Ava and her princess dominoes

Family photo

After checking out the stockings we proceeded to open gifts from each other. Drew’s favorite gift was a Nike warmup outfit my parents got him. He wanted to put it on right away. And Ava’s favorite was a Hello Kitty music jewelry box that my brother picked out for her. She also loved the water magic Princess book that Santa brought, and spent most of the morning working on that. After presents Grandpa made us a delicious breakfast of pancakes, French toast and sausage. We also decorated the birthday cake that we made for Jesus.

Decorating the birthday cake for Jesus

We set up the Wii and started playing. I’m not sure if the kids or the adults had more fun with it! It was a hit the rest of the trip! Drew is a particularly good golfer and bowler. Ava’s favorite so far is golfing, but she got a really cool looking Dora game too. And I am an expert at tennis.

We finally tore ourelves away from the Wii and got ready to go to Grandma Billie’s house for Christmas Dinner. Grandma made a delicious meal of ham, chicken, potatoes au graten, stuffing, salad, rolls and cranberry sauce. All the men (and some of the ladies) watched the Lakers (boo!) game on TV while the rest of us visited in the living room. Poor Ava wasn’t feeling good and actually climbed up into my lap and fell asleep for about three hours. She missed opening presents and singing happy birthday to Jesus. Since she wasn’t feeling great, we cut the evening short and went home after presents and dessert. She went right to bed as soon as we got home. Drew played a little more on the Wii and then he went to bed, freeing it up for the adults to have a serious sports competition!

Drew after he blew out the candle on the Happy Birthday Jesus cake

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Morning

The morning of Christmas Eve we woke up around 8 relieved that we all survived the long night and that Ava was now keeping fluids down. We had been hoping that it would be a quick stomach bug and that we could keep our plans to go down to Southern California to visit my family. We were already packed and ready to go. But Ava didn’t seem like she was feeling better. I couldn’t see packing a sick child into the car for a six hour drive, plus, what if the rest of us caught it and started throwing up once we got there, or worse, on the way there?

As I brought her in to see the doctor at urgent care that morning we both cried on the way. I was very disappointed to be missing Christmas at my parent’s house. It has been years since I’ve been able to be there. Plus, we had already opened our presents to each other. What would we do on Christmas by ourselves with no presents to open? I was having a little pity party for myself, then scolding myself for not realizing that Christmas is not really about presents or even about spending it with family. Christmas is about Christ and you can celebrate the gift of Jesus no matter where you are.

Anyway. When we got the doctor and I explained Ava’s symptoms the doctor said she thought it was an ear infection. What??? You know how I feel about ear infections. I love them! Why? Because they are not contagious and can be treated with antibiotics. Sure enough, she checked her ears and her right ear was infected. Apparently nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of an ear infection. Hooray! We scooted off to the pharmacy to pick up the meds, called Dan to tell him the trip was on and did the happy dance in the car all the way home. I figured Ava would just lay on the couch and watch movies all day, so why not sit in the car and watch movies all day on the way to Grandma’s house?

We got everything packed up, including one of the chucks I took home from the hospital and a “just in case” bowl for Ava, and headed out by 12 for the six hour drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Christmas Eve

We made it there just before six and joined my mom and dad, brother, sister and her boyfriend, Aunt Lisa and Uncle Tommy, GG and Grandpa Oddone, Uncle Joe and cousin Meghan, and Kathie, Kristine and Michael. It was a full house! We traditionally celebrate my sister’s birthday on Christmas Eve, so first we had her favorite dinner, pasta and salad from ChiChi’s and then she opened her presents. Then we opened Christmas presents to each other and then we had birthday cake.

Me and my sister

Rachel and Marshall

Birthday cake!

By then it was pretty late, so we hung up our stockings, the kids put out cookies and milk for Santa and got into their Christmas jammies. They went straight to sleep. Then Dan and I got busy preparing for Santa.

The kids putting out cookies and milk for Santa

And then we went out to a bar to celebrate Rachel’s 21st birthday. What, your family doesn’t go to bars on Christmas Eve? Well, we don’t usually either, but it was a special occasion. Dan and I, my brother Thomas, Rachel and her boyfriend Marshall, my dad and my uncle Joe all went out to a local dive bar. We stayed until midnight (her official birthday) and then the oldest among us called it a night. Those youngsters stayed out quite a bit later (and paid the price when the kids woke up bright and early the next morning)!

My brother playing beer pong. I've never seen it before and it looks disgusting!

Having a drink with my 21 year old sister


We had such a wonderful Christmas this year. Or maybe I should say “Christmases.” We have a family tradition of always letting our kids wake up at home on Christmas morning. But my little sister was born on Christmas Day. And this year she was celebrating her 21st birthday. So in order to be able to celebrate with her we had to bend the rules a little bit. What we ended up doing was celebrating Christmas early with our immediate family. That way we could do our normal Christmas traditions with the kids and let them enjoy their toys for a whole day before packing everything up and heading down to Southern California. Then we drove down to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve to celebrate Auntie’s birthday and Santa brought our gifts there the next morning.

Our first Christmas celebration was on December 23rd. Uncle Scott and Grandma Kathy came the night before so they could be there with us in the morning as we opened our presents to each other. We continued our tradition of the advent tree, decorated some Christmas cookies together and had the kids retell the story of Christ’s birth—the reason we celebrate Christmas. Then they were snuggled into their beds, excited to open presents the next morning.

Drew woke up first and waited patiently in the living room with Daddy while I made a special breakfast and Ava continued her beauty sleep. When she finally woke up around 8 we got to open our presents. We try to rotate and watch each person as they open their gift. But Drew was so excited he just kept wanting to open more. Ava was the opposite. She wanted to play with each thing that she opened and had to be convinced to open the rest of her presents. When Drew opened his T-rex mountain (my Black Friday find!) he said “It’s what I’ve been dreaming about!” Oh my gosh he’s so cute I can hardly stand it! He used that line again when he got his HotWheels Double Shift Raceway, something we gave one of his friends for his birthday and that he’s been hoping for ever since. Ava’s big gift from us was a new Princess big girl bike. She loved it! In fact, she followed Drew’s lead and told us it was what she’s always wanted! She rode it around the living room the rest of the morning.

Drew had purchased gifts for the family at his school’s holiday shop. We were curious to see what he picked out for us. He got me a lovely bracelet that says MOM on it. He picked a Princess toy for Ava. And for Dan he bought a model car, flashlight/clock keychain and a guitar ornament. It was so cute to see what he picked out for each of us. What a sweetheart!

Drew with his gift for Daddy

After presents we had breakfast—cinnamon rolls and a yummy breakfast casserole. Then we just hung out and played with our toys. Aunt Marie and Grandma Honey were set to come join our celebration around 2 and we were planning to have an early dinner and do more presents with them. Right about 1:30 Ava threw up. In our bedroom, on the carpet. I hustled her into the bathroom where she threw up again and got about half into the toilet and half on the floor. And some on my new slippers. Somehow I got her clothes off, got her washed off and called Dan to save me without throwing up myself. Thank goodness I have a husband who can take care of cleaning up throw up. Seriously, I don’t know how I can handle things like infected incisions but not the bodily fluids of my own childen. Yuck.

Anyway, my poor baby girl threw up about every 45 minutes the rest of the day. She spent our “Christmas” sleeping in her room, only waking up to cry, throw up and then go back to sleep. It was sad.

In the midst of the sick baby girl, Aunt Marie and Grandma Honey showed up to our party. It was a bummer that Ava had to miss it! We still enjoyed our Italian dinner of homemade lasagna, garlic bread and salad. And delicious desserts that Aunt Marie made. We opened our presents to each other and enjoyed visiting with everyone. Unfortunately, I was slightly preoccupied with a sick Ava and so I don’t have any pictures from that part of our celebration.

Poor sick girl

By 9:45 that night I was getting pretty concerned about Ava and called the on-call doctor. She told us to bring her to the ER if she didn’t stop throwing up. The doctor was concerned about dehydration since I couldn’t get any fluids into her. I decided that she could throw up once more, if it was twice more we’d bring her in. Thankfully she finally stopped. So that night was spent re-hydrating her. She kept waking up wanting something to drink and we only wanted to give her little bits at a time. She made it through to the morning, but still wasn’t acting like herself and she said that her ear hurt. She had mentioned that the day we went sledding and had some symptoms of a cold. So even though we had planned on leaving that morning for Southern California, I took her in to the doctor instead.

To be continued…

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We are having a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus with our family. I hope that you are all having wonderful celebrations as well. We wish you peace, joy and love this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow Trip

OK, so I just got the new computer and I am loving it! I am way behind on blog posts, but I must start with today. Today I took the kids sledding. We wanted Daddy to come too, but he was busy working to support our family, so we missed him. We were able to go with two other families though, so we were not alone. Our good friends the Scotts and the Quayles were fun sledding buddies!

We left around noon and drove up 80 to the Kyburz exit. There is a gas station on one side of the freeway and a perfect sledding spot on the other side. As we got closer we started to notice snow on the trees, which was beautiful, and right before we got off the freeway it started snowing! Just a light dusting of snow, but it was very pretty to see and the kids were excited!

After we got outfitted with snowbibs, snow jackets, hats and gloves we climbed up the hill and started the fun. I was most impressed with Ava, my tiny 3-year old girl, who could climb up the hills unassisted, while carrying her snow tube and then slide down the steep hill all by herself! She was fearless and she really flew down those hills! Drew did fantastic too, able to keep up with his buddies even in the high elevation. He did not slow down until we were back in the car.

The girls spent most of their time sledding, but the boys did a little bit of everything: sledding, making and throwing snowballs, hiking through the snow and playing in a little fort. The weather was beautiful, mostly sunny with a little snow here and there. After a couple of hours of fun (with one break to get water and get warmed up in the car) we stopped at the gas station for some hot chocolates and then headed for home. Both kids were so tired they slept most of the way home!
Here are some pictures from our fun day in the snow:

Ava ready for sledding

Mommy and Drew about to go down the hill

Cute little snow bunnies

Keilani and Ava, snow friends

Drew, Eben and Jacob, best buds

Keilani and Ava sledding while Meigan watches

The boys hiking, that's Drew right in the middle

Me and my precious kids

Sledding really takes it out of you! Both kids sleeping on the way home.