Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nickel City fun

  It's been a long time since we have been to Nickel City and it's just so much fun for cheap (though not nearly as cheap as it was a few year ago, the price of games has doubled), but we just bought a groupon the other day for up to 6 admissions, 100 tickets and $2 in nickels for $7, so how could we pass that up??? I wanted to find something fun for the boys and for Colby, so we headed out for some fun. We had a great time hoopin' it up. Vander and Ollie liked the car ride, Colby likes the nickel drop that scrapes the money and I like the ball drop. Ski ball was a favorite of everyone. Pick your nickel loosing poison. :)
  We had fun and then went home and looked at Christmas lights before eating a yummy spinach lazagna. We ALWAYS love hanging out with "Uncle Colb." Now he is headed to an adventure pushing coffee in Keystone for the next 4 months. I hope he has a blast!

Cookie decorating party

  I decided to use Hannah's recipe for cookies and frosting this year. Super yummy, but my gosh was it a TON of time and work. First you make the cookies, then you chill the dough, then then you roll it out, cut the cookies, and bake them. Wait for them to cool, ice the cookies, but first outline them (two kinds of icing). Then wait for that to dry to actually decorate them. They were fun and looked awesome, but I think I'm looking for an easier way next year. Anyway, Vander was really into this year and decorated MORE than he ate! Ollie, not so much. Larry and Theresa came up to help out. Larry was more of an overseer. We had a really good time and I'm enjoying this tradition.

Gingerbread decorating at Polly's.


 This was our third year attending and our fourth year being invited. Polly puts on quite a spread. She makes a ton of gingerbread houses, icing, and gets all kinds of candy. She also makes huge gourmet quality meals. It's truly amazing. She has been doing this party for 20 years. This was her twins 21st birthday and she started it for their first birthday. Polly is my ideal of a mother. She is truly inspirational.
  Colby was lucky enough to be in town for the party for his second time, so he got to enjoy it with us again this year. This was Justin and Oliven's first time. We had a fun time decorating and eating. I'm pretty sure Vander tasted each and every piece of candy that was there.

Neighborhood lights

  Christi and I got the neighbors together for apple cider in our garage and cookies, followed by walking around the block and looking at the lights. Afterwards we headed over to Christi's for more treats and voted on our favorite houses. I tried to get people to carol, but was out-voted.
  Christi had made "fake" snow for the kids to play in. Our house was voted the best lights of the year and we won the golden pine cone.
It was a fun evening and the boys thought it was super cool that they got to go out in their pajamas to hang out with their favorite neighbor, Nathaniel.
We opened our first holiday gift earlier that night as Justin had gotten us a family set of beanies. How cute are we???

Happy Hannukah


  We have gotten the chance to spend Hannukah with family several nights this year. We kicked it off (a few days early, but who is counting) at Robin's house for a yummy dinner with Robin and Mitch joining in the fun. We went down to Larry and Theresa's again on Wednesday night (Larry cooked the latka's on the BBQ for the first time and it was a huge success) and they are coming over with Chinese food tomorrow night.
The boys have really enjoyed themselves and are very much into the spirit of Hanukkah and Christmas. It's been a very fun and festive December.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gilroy Gardens Holiday lights

 For the second year in a row we took Vander to Gilroy Gardens Holiday lights. This year we were prepared that the lights show didn't start until 8:30pm. He was pretty stoked to be out way past bed time, though he was yawning quite a bit, and was a bit of a cranky pants the next morning. Anyway, he loved going on the rides and being with his parents. He was worried we might miss the lights the whole time however. We bought him a make your own smore. He really liked that. It was his first smore. He said that he was really sad that Ollie couldn't come with us. We thought one cranky kid the next day would be enough this year. 
  We were supposed to get in free with our 2012 season passes, but through miscommunication we ended up having to pay. Either way, it was a good night and we had lots of fun. The laser lights show was pretty cool and it included lasers, holiday lights, and fireworks all to music. Vander got to see Santa for the 3rd time this year, and this time he sat on his lap. This is HUGE progress for Vander. He wouldn't get near him the first time, the second time he talked to him, but kept his distance and this time he sat on his lap. No pictures of your own allowed at Gilroy Gardens though.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cake Decorating


I took the Wilton Cake Decorating Class #3. This is the 3rd and final class, at least until they come up with another one. ;) Here are some of the things I learned to make. The pink one wasn't mine, my friend Kristin made this one. Justin said that my cake looked like an old ladies hat.

Holiday parties

   Our first holiday party of the 2011 season was the South Valley 2008 party, which was really nice. I got to use my home-made fondant to make a snowman cake, which I got lots of compliments on (for both the decorations and the taste, so that was good). Vander and Ollie got to do some fun ornament making and Hannah catered a burrito bar, Arielle did a little Hanukkah corner with a Hanukkah story, which Hunter informed her was not a very good story. They also did a book exchange, so overall a good time.

  Today we went to Vander's pre-school party which was really cute. They had a pajama breakfast party and Oliven and I were invited back at 10:45am to make wreaths with the preschoolers. It was a super cute family activity. The best part though was at the beginning when the kids sang Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (with their little noses painted red). The kids also made us cinnamon rolls and had a smorgasbord of candy canes, cookies and doughnuts. I almost forgot Santa showed up and gave each of the preschoolers a gift. Vander and Santa ended up having a very nice conversation.  He still wouldn't get that close to Santa, but he did tell him that he wasn't that scary. Vander also told Santa thanks for the note he wrote.
   Oliven's holiday party was just as fun, but twice as crowded. We enjoyed spending time with our friends and eating Italian food. We also ate the chocolate reindeer that we made. Yum.

No muss, no fuss debauchel

My friend Sarah posted this super easy, no mess project as a possible project for our holiday party. I thought it looked fun, so I bought some glitter. That was my first mistake. The project is that you cut thick paper in red and green to look like Christmas balls, then you put double sided tape on in stripes and let the kids shake glitter onto it inside a ziplock back. Sounds pretty no muss, no fuss right??? Boy was I wrong...
  After Vander did his first shaking he decided he knew what he was doing so he was going to do it himself. He had seen me shake the glitter into the bag and decided he would do a different color. He took it upon himself to open an entire shaker of glitter by the big opening (not the shaker part) and it dumped out all over the kid table, the floor and all over Vander. Luckily Oliven was far enough away not to be caught in the cross fire. Immediately he decides to rub his eyes and says, "owww, my eyes hurt!!!" I was thinking if I don't clean up the glitter I will have two boys with glitter in their eyes, so I told Vander to just let himself cry to get the glitter out and to stand still until I could clean the rest of the glitter up. After I got it cleaned off the floor I took him to the sink where we tried to get the glitter off of him for the better part of 10 minutes. I then had to pin him down to put eye drops in his eye. I have since picked at least 4 pieces of glitter off his eye lid that have teared out of his eye. Let's just say I won't be doing that art project again for a very long time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our holiday letter 2011

I have sent out all my holiday letters already, so I am going to post it so that I remember what was going on. It's a nice year in review each holiday season. I printed it on rose petal paper this year.
  

12/2/2011



Dear friends and family,
             As this year comes to a close, it’s nice to reflect on the year that has passed. We hope this letter reaches you at the close of your best year yet. It has been a really fun, but also challenging one for us. We started off the year with Justin’s 30th birthday in which his birthday wish was to play 30 games in one weekend. I am proud to say we accomplished that goal.
            Justin is still at his same job at Lockeheed, which we are thankful for everyday. He really likes his boss and even got acknowledged at a corporate training this year for a program he helped to write. He had to take some trips to Washington D.C. for trainings this year, which were rough, but overall worth his time and effort.
            I was able to take a special weekend trip to Guerneville with my two little brothers, Freddie and Colby. It was truly magical. We stayed in the cabin owned by my mom’s best friend’s family. It is right next to where our mom grew up and where our great grandparents lived in the middle of the redwood forest. Grandma, Grandpa, Freddie, Annie and I drove up to Humboldt for Colby’s college graduation. We are so proud of him! I also made it down to San Diego to see family. For my 30th birthday, Justin and I were able to take an amazing trip to New York City to hang out with Justin Williams and see the city. Thanks to Larry and Theresa for watching our children while we were gone (we know that was no easy task). We got to see Book of Mormon , Wicked, and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (with Daniel Radcliff )all on Broadway!!!
            The boys have been super duper busy this year. Vander is still working on potty training. He started preschool this fall and absolutely loves it. He becomes giddy when I tell him it’s a preschool day. He is an eloquent conversationalist and has even been dabbling in some math. Oliven became a toddler this year, and he is beyond adorable. He loves looking at photo albums and is talking all the time now. Both boys got a chance to take swimming lessons over the summer. Vander enjoyed them so much that he asked to be enrolled in more swimming lessons. They also got to attend some gymnastic classes, and Vander got to go to some gymnastic camps as well. Vander and Oliven got to spend some quality time with their cousin Heather this year while we went to my best friend, Andrea’s, wedding and Justin’s best friend, Mick’s, engagement party.
            As a family we have taken full advantage of our annual passes to both Gilroy Gardens and The Children’s Discovery Museum. We also took a family trip with Justin’s side of the family to Colorado over the summer. The boys had a blast. We got to spend a week out in the fresh air. Vander still asks me all the time if we can go back to Colorado where his whole family lives. Every time he sees an airplane he asks me if they are going to Colorado or Washington D.C. In October we took the boys to Disneyland and California Adventure for the first time. We had a great time. Jon, Ruth and Andrea all met us there for some memory making. We are going to San Diego for Christmas this year. We get to see Freddie and Annie’s new house, and celebrate my grandparents, Gretchen and David, both turning 80 years old. See vanderkatz.blogspot.com to read more about our lives.
            Much love and good wishes for the year to come,
 Justin, Ashley, Vander and Oliven Katz

Last Saturday


  Talk about a busy day...We started out by going to breakfast with Santa (a yearly event put on by our loan officer). We had breakfast, then took pictures with Santa, which sadly are not worth posting. Vander wouldn't get near Santa and was also leary of Mrs. Clause. Ollie was close enough for a high five and nothing more. We entered the raffle (we didn't win, but all three of the boys won last year, so it really wasn't our turn to win), then we went and did holiday crafts and got some balloons made. Vander got a monkey on a candy cane and Oliven got a bunny hat.
  We decided to stroll down to Christmas in the park and enjoy the scenery and the trees, which aren't as cool in the morning as they are in the evening, but it was a fun activity.
   When we were done it was only 10:45am, so for a special treat we took the boys to The Children's Discovery Museum (this was special because I had taken them the day before as well, and this time daddy was with us).
   We stopped by the post office on our way home to have lunch. After quiet time we went to Vander's friend Bella's birthday party. It was a princess theme, so we bought Vander Fairy Princess wings to wear. He was having a hard time deciding whether he wanted to be Vidia or Tinkerbelle. They made playdough and had a pinata. Super fun with our friends, then came home exhausted and went to bed. Justin and I had Chinese Food from our favorite place for dinner. What a fun packed day!

Christmas decorations

We have all our our holiday decorations up and enjoying them. We are also adding to them daily with our advent adventures. :)

Poop in the potty!!!

3 days in a row now Vander has gone poop in the potty!!! Yay. We are so proud of him!