Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Holiday letter

     Justin is still working at Lockheed and will be starting a new position at the beginning of the year. He got an award in April for a program that he wrote, so Justin and I took a weekend away in Colorado. It worked out nicely since cousin Drake and his wife Ashley and cousin Kyle and his fiancĂ© Krista live in Denver and so does our good friend Jeff. We also got to see my brother Colby who was working in Keystone (he is there again this winter). I took Justin for archery lessons for his birthday. The highlight of his year continues to be playing strategy games and collecting and watching movies. He also took a trip to Mexico for his best friend, Mick’s, wedding to Marisol.

    I was able to take a few trips this year as well. I took a trip to Colorado to hang out with Colby and spend some quality time with him seeing what his everyday life looks like. He is figuring out what makes him happy and I am proud of him. I also got to stay in San Diego with Freddy and Annie in their new house that I lovingly call “the palace.” It is a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom house in Carlsbad and it is gorgeous. It has been nice spending time with them and trying to be around Grandma Gretchen and Grandpa David as much as possible. Grandma’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse and I just want to be there for her as much as possible. I was also able to take a ski trip with my cookbook club ladies. We get together monthly and eat yummy food. One Life to Live, my soap opera, was cancelled this year. It doesn’t seem like that would matter, but I watched that soap opera with my mom since I was a very little kid. It was a very bonding show for us.

   Vander has tried out lots of different sports this year. He played soccer, tee ball, and tae kwan do. Both boys have been doing swimming lessons, tried gymnastics, kindermusik, and Oliven did Gymboree.  Van also enjoyed Vacation Bible School. He went to the Padre game with Justin over the summer. Van has now been to two professional stadiums. We spent a good part of our year at Great America, Gilroy Gardens, Pump it Up, and Children’s Discovery Museum. We also took the kids to Tahoe and went sledding (they constantly ask when we are going back). We took them to Family camp outside of Yosemite in the summer. It was the first time any of the boys (including Justin) had been camping and it was a huge success. They all want to go back. Yay! Nature won them over! We went to Guernville and stayed in the Haran cabin and it was truly magical. My mom grew up there and it is everything she said it was and more. We went to Disneyland and stayed in LA with Jon and Ruth. They took us to a train museum. We spent a week in San Diego over the summer and that was really fun quality family time. We also spent a weekend in Cazedero with my best friend Andrea and her family.

   Vander is loving preschool. He is challenging us and learning limits. He hasn’t been sleeping through the night this year, so that has been difficult. It’s a work in progress. He is very smart and loves to read and is working on writing. Oliven is truly becoming a little man. He is such a sweet little boy full of love and hugs. He looks up to his brother and tries to do everything he does.

    It has been a very tough end of the year for us. Justin was hit by an uninsured motorist and I drove through a construction site so both cars had to be fixed at our expense even though neither was our fault. Now, our house is leaking due to a mistake of the solar panel installers, but they aren’t taking any blame. We might have to get a wall torn down and our wood flooring replaced.This is all happening as I am trying to process my Grandpa Ken passing away and Justin’s grandma, Bubbie Eloise, passing away recently as well. Here’s to hoping 2013 brings better luck.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hanukkah and hair cut

I decided it was time for a new haircut...something fun and different...I think I like it. It's not "my haircut" for life, but it's good for now.  

We had a very happy Hanukkah this year and now it's time to look forward to Christmas.

Our house wreck

 We had a neighbor, who is a commercial roofer, help patch the roof. Then, they had to take the dry wall off the wall to dry out the inside and the flooring had to be torn up too. Turns out there is linoleum under the kitchen floor...dehumidifiers have been running for a week straight. I miss my house and I'm not looking forward to the bill for all this. Please oh please let insurance pay for it!
The inside of half the kitchen is covered in plasic sheeting, as it part of the living room. The inside of the plastic sheeting looks a mess too.
...Two weeks later... We now have the wall taped off and covered in plastic. And... the roof is leaking again, so it's pooling inside the plastic. This problem keeps getting bigger and to top it off it started leaking December 23rd in the evening. It's really hard to get anything accomplished Christmas Eve or Christmas day and now we are left to we have to cancel our trip to San Diego? Should I still fly down myself and just leave the boys here? I really don't want to go to Grandpa Ken's funeral alone, but I don't want to miss it either. I miss him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our weekend- cookie decorating brunch, Steven and Rachel visit, and two parties

  What a fun and crazy busy weekend. We had Grammy over to decorate cookies with us in the morning. The Rogerson family was supposed to come, but several of them got the flu. We had a good time with lots of colors to decorate with and 82 cookies. Vander really got into it this year and while his cookies were very similar, he had a really good time...gobs of frosting with sprinkles and hope of maybe being allowed to eat one or two or three. I guess that was the winning combination for him. Ollie also decorated about 6 and ate 2, then he was off to build and rebuild some puzzles. (By far his favorite pass time right now).
  In the afternoon Steven and Rachel came over for dinner. We opened our gifts for the last night of Hanukkah and then had the boys most requested meal- chicken pot pie. Justin made up a recipe and it really is delicious. Steven moved to San Francisco 1 1/2 years ago and this is the first time I have gotten him to come visit. We have been friends since I was 15. It was nice hanging out and chatting with them. Steven doesn't like board games much to Justin's chagrin.
  Sunday morning I went to the gym and the boys went to the grocery store. Then, I took the guys to a birthday party of Vander's preschool friend, Rylie. Van and Ollie enjoyed the crafts- making stockings and cookie decorating.
   In the afternoon we went to the South Valley 2010 party. It was at the Los Paseos club house. I was in charge of set up and picking up the Chinese food that I had ordered. Lets just say we could have fed at least 25-50 more people easy.  We ended up with TONS of leftovers. We brought home enough for our family to have another dinner and lunch from it and we took less than many people. The kids liked the dancing and games. They also made a Christmas ornament craft. Hannah was in a jam so I headed straight over to her house to babysit while Justy put our kids to bed. It was a long much fun. I think we all need a nap now. ;)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Second night of Hannukah, cookie exchange and block party

  Talk about a busy day...I had a cookie exchange with my Cookbook Club ladies to start off the morning
 (I made sure I went to the gym first- the boys went grocery shopping). In the afternoon Grammy and Pops came up to light the menorah and open presents. It was puzzle time in the Katz house. Vander got to light the candles for the first time with minimal help.

Then we headed over to the Holiday block party. It was complete with 9 families, cookie decorating at Jenn's house, lots of snacks, caroling, looking at lights and awarding the golden pinecone (the Paulson family won this year), and ended the evening at Rick and Cindy's around their fire pit. It was a huge success and lots of fun. I got lots of complements on my apple cider. :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

First night of Hanukkah

  This morning we woke up early and headed to down town San Jose to have breakfast with Santa. We had a good time. We ate breakfast, the kids made some ornaments, sat on Santa's lap and we won a puzzle. Oliven is obsessed with puzzles right now. He can't get enough. We came home and baked up the Mandel bread and had some quiet time. Katie's dad, Gordon, came over and assessed the damage to our house. He was a really great guy. It was fun to meet him. Justin loved that he said he would be done with our house in 7.6 minutes. Our kind of guy...
Then, we headed down to the Katz parents house to meet up with Heather, Mitch, Katie, Grammy and Pops for a fun afternoon. There was some t-ball, lots of puzzles, a few cartoons, lots of chatting, and a lovely dinner with some moist and delicious pork roast, crispy and yummy latka's with carrots and green beans and fudge and chocolate pretzels for dessert. It was a lovely afternoon and evening. Zoe also came to join in the fun (Katie and Mitch's dog). It was really nice spending quality time with family. Happy Hannukah everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Leaky roof

  First I'd like to say that I am so tired of having things upgraded and things breaking while they are upgrading and the people who are doing the work calling it a "coincidence". It is NOT a coincidence that we had solar panels put on our roof in July and then when it started raining a few months later the roof is leaking. Were there a whole bunch of big men on my roof walking around? Yes....did they possibly kick something? Yes. Ticks me off!!! Will they take any blame? Of course not. I feel like I have gotten screwed over and over. Why can't people just accept responsibility when it's their fault??? So, now our house is leaking...and our garage. The preliminary report is that the dry wall from the kitchen wall will have to be taken off and all the hardwood floors will have to be ripped out and then fix everything, and of course the roof hole needs to be fixed. I can't believe this is happening. I didn't want solar panels in the first place. See the drips running down the walls. Lots of water damage.

Wreath making and dinner with friends

In the early afternoon we headed over to make wreaths and decorate the Christmas tree at the preschool with the church people as well. The boys really made a pretty nice looking wreath- it was a family effort. We had some appetizers and headed over to Arielle's for dinner.

Arielle asked Casey and I over for dinner to hang out and have a fun evening. It was great. She is really good with all the chaos around and it's always nice to spend time with good friends. The kids really enjoyed themselves too and they got to watch most of Peter Pan, which they thought was pretty awesome.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Advent 2013:
1.       Making a 24 ring chain- red and green paper.
2.       Wreath making at preschool- 3:30pm.
3.       Roll coins
4.       Make paper snowflakes.
5.       Make a snowman out of marshmallows and toothpics.
6.       Play Wii with Daddy
7.       Preschool fun night.
8.       Breakfast with Santa and Hannukah with Grammy and Pops.
9.       Neighborhood Christmas party 4-7pm.
10.   Make a fort
11.   Lights bike ride.
12.   Hannukah craft.
13.   Play Wii with daddy.
14.   Gingerbread party at Sarah’s.
15.   Decorate Holiday cookies (invite Grammy, Pops, Mitch, Katie and Heather).
16.   Christmas party 2010 at 4pm.
17.   Call GGMA and GGPA and sing a holiday song.
18.   Watch Charlie Brown Christmas?
19.   Write a Christmas story.
20.   Holiday craft
21.   Snowman pizza
22.   Hot chocolate
23.   Light walk around.
24.   Make a plate of cookies for Santa.

We opened the first door for advent today and it was a huge success (followed by a quiche dinner with rave reviews...who knew you could get a 2 and 4 year old to thank you profusely for dinner filled with broccoli and spinach if you just added cheese, crab and crust).

Date night with friends

  Early this summer 5 couples bought a groupon to go to Rooster T. Feathers for a fun evening of comedy. Planning a date to go that worked for everyone was a nightmare and we finally gave up. I chose the date of November 30th and we let them know we were going that night well in advance. What do you know...4 of the 5 couples ended up being able to go. We picked up Nicole and Michael and headed to Rangoli for a yummy Indian food dinner. Then we met up with Sarah and Andy and Casey and Jason for a hilarious evening of good conversation and funny comedians.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wreck it Ralph

  Neither of the boys have ever been to the movie theater, so we thought this year would be a good time to start the tradition of going to the movies the weekend after Thanksgiving. We looked into the two main kid movies out and decided on Wreck it Ralph. It was about a bad guy in a video game who didn't want to be a bad guy. It was really cute. The boys were both really good during the movie. Vander asked his usual 112 questions, and Ollie was thrilled that we let him eat popcorn and candy. The movie also had a candy video game in it and both boys really liked that. It was a fun morning as a family and sharing firsts with both boys.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

  We started our day with the traditional cinnamon rolls. Vander says he was very thankful to be able to have what tasted like dessert for breakfast. We then headed over to Hannah's house for her 3rd annual pumpkin pancakes breakfast. Delicious and fun. Van and Ollie headed down to the Katz parents house and Ollie and I headed home to let Ollie catch a few ZZZzzz's so that he wouldn't be a cranky pants. I had to wake him up after 1 1/2 hours so we could go down and join the Thanksgiving festivities. Mitch and Katie were there, but they couldn't stay too long because they were going over to Katie's parents house. Oliven did LOTS of puzzles and Van played outside with balls.
We all watched some cartoons and had a delightful dinner with family. We had a little time to as Ollie calls it, "play a little minute" before diving in to dessert- chocolate pecan pie and pumpkin streusal tart. Over all a very nice day and easy to feel Thankful. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Barnum the musical

  I bought tickets from groupon for a musical called Barnum. It said the show was a musical about the circus for kids. It did not mention that it was an adult themed musical played by kids- mostly 13 year olds. We took the two kids thinking there would be lots of circus stuff-no such luck. Oliven made it through the first act. Van made it through the whole thing. They each had a soft pretzel in the middle and got antsy, but overall they liked the music. I'm not sure that I would call it a successful evening, but it certainly wasn't a fail.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Throwdown

   Last year we missed out on having a Thanksgiving get together with friends. I was not about to let that happen again, as it was so much fun the year before. I hosted a Thanksgiving Throwdown. Eight families showed up for the fun. We had three judging categories: starch side dish, non-starch side dish and dessert. 
We voted on the best in each category. The food was really delicious since people were trying to win a $10 gift card to Target. It was fun and yummy- always a good combination! Justin and I won for best dessert. We made Theresa's Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe- always a crowd pleaser.

Grammy and Pop's house

  Oliven missed his Grammy and Pops and really wanted to visit them so he gave his Pops a call. Two days later we went to their house for the afternoon and dinner. They love playing T-ball, super heroes and puzzles in Morgan Hill. We had a lovely afternoon with family.

Kid dates

Vander painted his face at the CDM.
  Oliven was invited to a party at Pump it Up for his good friend Maddie, but Vander was not invited. It was gave us some one on one time with the kids. So, I told Van I would take him on a date. He slept well the night before so I let him choose...he choose Children's Discovery Museum and Subway for lunch and an ice cream cone from Baskin Robins. He was really excited and told me how excited he was several times. He ended up getting invited to the party at the last minute. He asked me, "well would it be our whole family or a special date with mommy?" I told him we would all go and he decided he really wanted a date. So, we had a good morning together as did Ollie and Justin.


  I signed Oliven up for Gymboree classes- basically an active play class for 5 weeks. He loved it! His best pal, Maddie, was in the same class and they had a blast together. They did bubbles, parachutes, imaginary play-different each time, lots of climbing and running around. It was a good time and Ollie looked forward to it each week. He really enjoyed trying to balance.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rest in Peace Grandpa Ken

  Grandpa Ken was my mom's dad. He was a man she loved and admired and put on a pedestal. She forgave him his flaws and just loved him and thought the world of him. I believe I got this quality from my mom. I can overlook many flaws for the people I love (my dad especially). I also think that my mom's warm affectionate feelings toward my grandpa rubbed off on me. I have always loved him and wanted to be around him from the time I was little. When I was a very small child I told him, "Grandpa, I will always be yours." He told me that one day I would grow up and get married and I wouldn't be his anymore. I told him that I had enough room in my heart to still be his too. I told him that I would always be his about a month and a half ago and he told me that he would always be mine too. I have fond memories of going to visit Grandpa Ken when I was a kid....playing in his pool, riding around his neighborhood- all the streets had names of fruits and trees, I really enjoyed that. Grandpa Ken used to buy me a whole bag of Hershey's mini candy bars when I would come to visit. We would share because I liked the dark chocolate the best and he liked the crunch bars. He would put graham crackers in a bowl and crunch them up and pour milk over them for a late night snack. He also let me watch scary movies- I loved that- my mom NEVER let me do that. I can't watch them anymore (I guess I took after my mom on that one). He would tell me stories of his kids when they were little and about when my Grandma and he were dating. He had a truly amazing deep voice that was always enjoyable to listen to.
   Over the last couple years and this past year especially Grandpa and I had really become friends. I shared with him as well as listening to his tales of being a Merchant Marine. It was really nice to have a confidant that was so close to my mom. My Grandma Gretchen, who I have been close to my whole life and has been my best friend for so long has Alzheimer's and I have been having a rough time with it and Grandpa Ken would talk with me about it and relay all kinds of great stories.
   When I was younger and long distance phone calls cost more money than we could afford Grandpa Ken would write letters back and forth with me. He was a very good pen pal. When he stopped being able to write as well he started making me tapes where he would just talk to me and tell me stories. I am so grateful for the tapes and all the old videos he made (I wish I knew where those were).
   Grandpa Ken would come down to visit and he would have conversations with himself at the table..."Gee Ken, I sure am hungry." "Really Ken, would you like a sandwich?" "Why thanks Ken I sure would." Not real subtle, but he got his point across. Most of my family thought he was rude and a burden, but not my mom and I never felt that way either. I never cared for the cigarette smoke, but he was well worth it. Sure he liked to tell stories about all the beautiful women he had slept with and how they stuck a needle..., but that was just who he was. I would never begrudge him for being his self. No one would ever say that he didn't appreciate women. He also used to walk around in his tighty whitey underwear, but please I lived with David- that was nothing new to me or my family. He wasn't perfect, but who is?
   Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch- Grandpa Ken taught this to my mom who taught it to me and it's been fun and impressive ever since- it is the city with the longest name in the world. It's in Wales and it would be really cool to go there one day and see it. That incredible memory of Grandpa's was passed on to my mom and my brother Freddy. He remembered things in great detail. Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy and kiddlied ivy too wouldn't you. Now if the words seem clear or funny to your ear a little bit jumbled or jivy sing mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. He used to sing this to me. And also...shoe fly pie and apple pan dowdy makes your eyes pop out and your tummy say howdy. I saw Apple Pan Dowdy for the first time at a shop in Guerneville- how perfect is that. I still have yet to taste it.
  Grandpa used to tell me that Justin was a quite guy and he never talked and he wondered how I could be married to such a shy person....then one night Justin was being himself and leading a lively conversation. Grandpa looks at me and says, "Is he ever quiet? It's too loud in here." He takes his paper towel, rips it in half and stuffs it into his ears. What a crack up!!! Grandpa Ken was blunt and honest and always spoke what was on his mind.
  He used to tell me about how much he loved living in Guerneville in the cabin. He didn't know his kids and my grandma loved it so much or he never would have left. He claimed they would have stayed one big happy family. He took the promotion to take care of his family that moved them to San Diego and things fell apart from there. He told me he always wished that was the time he could go back to and have lived his life out  with his kids out in nature happily. My mom always said the same thing...that living in Guerneville was the happiest she ever way and that she wished she had raised us there. I hope to spread Mom's and Grandpa Ken's ashes there some day.
   Another time Grandpa Ken was telling us all about the crowded grocery store and what a pain it was to navigate and all those people. "It was such an orgy." We've been laughing about that one for several years now.
  In high school my friend Dana told Grandpa Ken that he was, "Pimp." He did not like that accusation. (Slang at the time meant that he was cool or awesome). He told Dana that he would never sell women. Dana explained that she meant he was cool. Later that day he started telling everyone he was a pimp. I advised him that this was not a very good plan.
  When we were kids Grandpa Ken used to play a game he called, "Scramblini" He would throw a bunch of loose change on the ground and all the kids with scramble to get as much as we could. It was so much fun and we used to think we were getting rich. I reminded him of this game and he played it with my kids over the summer when we went to San Diego to visit. They loved it.
   Grandpa Ken used to always say that he and Grandma Gretchen started it all- referring to our family. He said we really had him to thank. As he sipped his pink, rose wine we all just laughed. One time Grandma Gretchen said that Colby was reincarnated from Grandpa Ken's grandfather. Colby says to Grandpa Ken, "So really you have me to thank." Too funny.
   Most of all Grandpa Ken loved to give and receive hugs and kisses. I miss you grandpa and will always be yours. Please keep mom company in heaven. I know you have been missing each other.

Monday, November 5, 2012


  Vander is testing me today. I am so thankful to the have the self control not to hit him. He is pushing every button. He was up several times during the night and banged on his door screaming from 5-7am. Then, at 7am he looks at me, smiles, and says, "Good morning mommy. I love you." Are you kidding me??? I love him too, but really...why isn't he learning? Justin and I have done EVERYTHING we can think of to get him to listen...he is now lying to get us into his room at night...."I pooped." "I threw up." You name it- he's the boy who cried wolf. Then, we are all tired and cranky. He kept Ollie up too cause he was so loud. Ollie has told me all day that he is tired. Vander was on a long time out and as soon as he got off he went over to his brother and threatened him. He then put his window down on the freeway-which is one of our rules. He claims it was an accident, but how can I believe him when he is lying to me all the time??? Then, I asked him to try and poop before quiet time. He tells me, "No, I'm too tired. Where is my stool? Find it for me mommy. I don't want to look for it." I told him he didn't get a story if he was going to act like this. He cried and told me he needed a hug. Should I give him a hug when he is acting like that? I feel like it would be reinforcing his naughty behavior. Vander is such a challenge!
  Did I mention that early this morning Oliven pooped all over himself and his chair and while I was cleaning that up Vander comes and tells me he had an accident and spilled orange sand all over his room. AHHHH!!! Kids are soooo challenging!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend: Babypalooza, Blaze's bday and Charity Ball

  Saturday morning we headed out to the 2010 event called Babypalooza. It included a yummy brunch buffet, an interactive story, belly dancers, Andy Z (the Bay Area's best kid musician), T-shirt decorating station, tablecloths to color on, and toys to play with. What kid wouldn't have a good time? The only downside was when Ollie threw up on the blanket that was out for the babies to play on- oops. Justy and I went to dinner group that night after the boys went to bed. We have been doing this for almost 5 years now.
   Sunday Justin took the boys to the grocery store in the morning and when they got back I took the boys to Blaze's first birthday party. It was a breakfast at Tiffany's theme. Very suave.
After quiet time we headed to the Charity Ball, where we for the third year in a row got 20 items together for kids who are in need. The boys helped fill the boxes. They also got a chance to do lots of running around. They loved having hotdogs, fruit salad and caramel corn for dinner. We had a fun and did a good deed. We had a fun weekend- now we just need to adjust to the time change.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween and Halloween parties

  We got together with friends at the pumpkin patch in costume to run around and have Halloween cupcakes. Ollie and I went to another pumpkin patch and went on the hay ride. We also attended a costume party as a family and had a good time with lots of friends. I went to a party for Witches were we exchanged our favorite things.
  The most fun party was the preschool Halloween party. It was a potluck lunch with pumpkin decorating and outdoor playing.
  On Halloween we started out the day with orange milk in our cereal for some festive fun. In the afternoon we carved our pumpkins and then Grammy and Pops came up to hang out.
We had a jack-o-lantern pot pie for dinner. When it was dusk Superman (Justy), Cat woman (Me), Robin (Van) and Batman (Ollie) headed out on the court to trick-or-treat. Oliven wanted to eat each piece of candy as he got it. Ollie made it up and down our street and was done after a scary house.
  He enjoyed coming back and eating some candy as well as handing out candy with Pops to the other kids. Van and Justin went a little further. It was a fun evening and the kids really enjoyed themselves.
 We handed out several pieces of candy to each kid, but managed to give all of our candy away by 8:30pm. That was a record for us.