Monday, December 22, 2014

Hanukkah

Hi there and Happy Hanukkah,
  So Hanukkah has a couple of days left, but we are headed south tomorrow, so here is the lowdown on our Hanukkah this year. It happened to start the evening of December 16th, which means 8 nights of Hanukkah, then Christmas Eve, then Christmas day...every kid's dream. We kicked off the first night when Larry and Theresa came up to join us at our house. Then, Saturday night we headed down to there house for the 5th night of Hanukkah with Mitch, Katie, Heather, and the of course Grammy and Pops. It was a really nice evening with a delicious Latka meal that Larry cooked on the BBQ once again, which makes it even more enjoyable because you don't come home smelling like a giant latka yourself.
 The boys really enjoyed playing with the Latka Larry doll. And, can I just say, thanks you Mitch, I am so glad you chose to marry Katie...she really is awesome. I know he knows that, but I am thankful! Larry and Theresa got our family our pool membership for the summer, which is awesome!
  In the mean time, we had our annual block party last night and it was really fun and a huge success. It doesn't have much to do with Hanukkah, except that it was on the 6th night of Hanukkah.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent

  Advent is always a fun time of year. I really don't like the lack of sunlight, but at least there has been some rain, we have really needed it since we have been experiencing the worst drought in like 120 years (according to one source, and no, it wasn't Freddy ;) We had a fun "crazy meal" with the kids, though it was significantly less crazy than last year. We ended up with salami, bread (Vander), a rotisserie chicken (Justin), nacho cheese, an avocado (Ashley), grapes and bananas (Oliven).
We spent a morning having breakfast with Santa- always a fun morning, we try to go every year. The boys love it and I won a prize this year- a lego car! Yay for me. Hehe. We headed down to Christmas in the Park and enjoyed all the Christmas trees and the ambiance. Afterwards, we took a little walk over to the Children's Discovery Museum for some family fun. The boys enjoyed building up the walls and then knocking them down again.
  We also spent another morning making Gingerbread houses at Polly's house. This is a yearly tradition and it is tons of fun. Vander
made a house this year and Oliven made a train. They ended up being super cute and Polly makes the best cake I have ever tasted...it's amazing (super time intensive, but devine- thank you Polly!)
  Last night, I went to a paint nite with Sarah Zwingman and had lots of fun. It was really neat to just sit and paint with someone showing us the proper technique and hanging out with a friend.   
This was after our family game night- Oliven's choice, we also had a game night of Vander's choice. Tonight starts Hanukkah, so stay tuned...
  I forgot to mention that we had a fun cookbook exchange at
Cookbook club at our cookie exchange. It was really fun and I can't wait to make some soups  from the new soup cookbook.
   Oliven had an end of the year program with singing in reindeer hats, and Vander also had an end of the year singing Christmas program. Both were super cute and sweet. I couldn't get a great picture of Vander's because the guy in front of me was video taping, but I did get a decent video clip of his class singing.
  Starting this month, Vander is going to start making dinner once a month. I will be his sous chef and he will take the lead with my guidance. He says he would like to cook dinner on the 21st of each month since that is his birthday day, except he may need to take a break in May and November due to his birthday and 1/2 birthday, because, "I may be too tired from all the cooking." Such a crack up! This month since it was during advent he made snowman pancakes, decorated with fruit. This was his first time making pancakes and he did great!
  

Why no posts???

   It's not that I am getting lazy, or that I have no time to post, or even that I have just forgotten to blog...it's that I have been unmotivated and downright sad. I have had a hard time finding the motivation to do much of anything that isn't a necessity...why? Because this whole Epilepsy thing has caused havoc on my life...apparently I have complex partial seizures. This means there is confusion or loss of awareness, aimless movements and they can happen several times a night. I always called them "bad tastes" because after the loss of consciousness comes a "gustatory hallucination". I have had this ONLY at night since I was about 16. They got really bad when I had Oliven- I was having upwards of 10 a night. They have been a problem for years...but the doctors all told me I had acid reflux, which I knew wasn't right. So, finally at the beginning of this year I made give me an overnight at the hospital sleep study. The neurologist discovered the nocturnal epilepsy, so it turns out I wasn't just crazy- which most people made it sound like this was "all in my head". It turns out it was in my head, but I wasn't making it up. I feared not taking care of this problem was going to cause long term damage to my body as I wasn't getting deep sleep waking up all night long. There is no way that this could be good for a person over time...as it turns out the medicine to control the epilepsy is horrendous. The list of side effects is long and ugly. 
    As soon as I started taking it, I immediately felt an overwhelming feeling of tiredness, extreme, wake up and need an hour nap 30 minutes later or fall asleep standing up tiredness- zombie tiredness. It was aweful, and later it was also accompanied by depression...not a deep depression, but a feeling of apathy and sadness, like it wouldn't really matter if I wasn't here anymore...not the kind of attitude that anyone wants to have or the feeling I want to live with. I couldn't handle it anymore, so I went back to the neurologist and told him I need a different way to deal with this, because not only was I NOT having good days, I was STILL having seizures at night!!! So, at first I felt like I had traded good days in for good nights, then I felt I was now having crumby days and bad nights- that is a loose loose situation if ever there was one. I didn't like or trust the neurologist I saw first- he was rude, treated me like a disease and unfortunately he is also the head of the department at Kaiser. I requested a different doctor and he was helpful. He is easing me onto a different medication. I really hope it helps, because it makes my birth control pills less effective and increases the risks of birth defects, not an ideal situation. We don't want any more kids, but life is not 100% plan-able. Anyway, I am dealing with all of this on the physical and mental level and trying to maintain a normal life and be a good mom, but it has been challenging. 
    I guess I should mention that they have threatened several times to take my license away, even though I don't have seizures during the day. I would never put my kids in jeopardy. 
    I have changed my life to accommodate this stupid problem as we now know that going to bed at the same time every night, getting enough sleep, and not skipping meals are the biggest factors in not having seizures. So, at 8:30pm every night I have to get ready for bed and try to be asleep around 9pm. It doesn't sound so bad, but it also means we can't go to parties, I have to come home early from meeting and nights out, any late night is out. We will see how well it goes in San Diego for Christmas. It's a big life style change and thank goodness I have such a loving, supportive husband!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving


The boys both had the whole week of Thanksgiving off...so Monday we went down to Carrie's to see her new house and to play. We had a fun morning. Their house really turned out nice. I am very happy for them and so glad they got it! Tuesday, we didn't have any plans, so I took the boys hiking. On Wed. morning we headed over to the archery range to watch Justin shoot a few arrows before his meeting and the boys and I did a short hike on the way back. Thursday morning we had our traditional cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then around 11:30am we headed down to Larry and Theresa's house to go hang out with them and Katie and Mitch. Katie brought her parent's dog and her dog to play in the back yard. We had a really nice morning. We helped pack up all the wedding gifts into the back of Gordon's truck so Mitch and Katie could bring everything home. They are starting their first official house hunt...I hope they find exactly what they are looking for.
   Around 3pm, when they took off, the boys were doing some art and Justin and I took a short walk around the neighborhood. We came back and dinner prep was well underway. They boys really helped out this year. Vander made almost all the cranberry sauce with my help and they both helped with the sweet potatoes and the pumpkin tart. It was a very enjoyable relaxing day that we were all thankful for.
  On Friday morning Rachel Esselstein came by and visited for a few hours. It was good to see her and catch up. She is living in San Francisco now teaching high school. We played several games with the kids while Justin did his Black Friday stuff. Then we got a chance to play 7 Wonders with her before she left. The Flowers family came to visit in the afternoon. The kids, Elsa and Taran, are the same ages as our kids and they got along very well. We were able to play games and hang out and chat. We had dinner (and discovered that their kids don't like their foods touching or mixing), so I guess quiche wasn't ideal, but the adults and our kids enjoyed it. After the kids went to bed, we played another game, then I went to bed and Justin, Mark, and Rena played 3 more.
  We all woke up early in the morning and the Flowers family headed out after a waffle breakfast, some art, and clean-up. It was great to see them, and so much fun.
  Saturday night we took the kids out for Indian food for their first time ever. They both really enjoyed the food and we took them out for ice cream at Sweet Retreat afterwards. They were very happy kids.

San Francisco


Zach and I have been friends since before 9th grade began...here's the story...Jennifer Kazules and I were taking Algebra Enrichment so that we could start 9th grade in Geometry. It was recommended to make sure we were ready...she thought Zach was cute. So, since she wanted to write him a note, she thought it would be less embarrassing if I also wrote him a note. Being a good friend, I agreed and we became friends. At that time Zach was painfully shy and I don't recall ever being that shy. He would call on the phone and I would do like all the talking...we also waited in the lunch line together. I tried bribing him to get good grades in Biology, but he wasn't interested. He was a skater boy (still is) and we have been friends now for almost 20 years. So, we met up with Zach in San Francisco to hang out. We invited Mitch and Katie to meet up with us as well. Luckily they were available. So, we met up at the Ferry building. We thought the Farmers Market would be there, but we were wrong on that account- I guess I should have checked online. Anyway, we walked around the Ferry Building and had some bagels. Justin was not thrilled to pay $25 to park (parking is the worst part of going to San Francisco).
Mitch and Katie had to go, so Zach, the kids, Justin and I headed down to fisherman's wharf. I thought the kids would enjoy seeing the Walruses and also they have lots of lunch options. We got some good exercise in walking down the piers. The boys did enjoy the Walruses very much and they liked checking out what was going on while we walked down. We had some fun in front of the Exploratorium and won some apple chips by playing hop scotch. Justin had some fish and chips for the lunch and the boys and I had a shrimp crepe and garlic fries. Then, after picking a special taffee for a treat, we said goodbye to Zach and headed home.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November updates

   We took a family day and surprised the boys with a family hike and a morning a movie theater date to see Big Hero 6. Justin went out of town for 3 days, so we wanted to get some good quality time in first. The boys loved the movie (so did we). Justin took the boys to Rock N' Jump and they enjoyed jumping around on the trampolines (I was at Cookbook Club).
  The night before Justin left we took the boys out to BJ's for a deep dish pizza and pizzookie...the boys thought it was the best thing they had ever eaten. Vander said, "how did I not know that this crust existed before now?" He thought it was amazing. And, how could you not like a warm cookie with ice cream??? Delish.
  On Saturday, the boys played their second to last t-ball game and had their end of the year party because the coach is going to Hawaii next week. Pizza party at Duchman's pizza and the boys got ribbons, including Justin, for their participation on the Power Ranger's tball team. Somehow during quiet time Vander got sick, so he had to miss Maddie's birthday party at Pump It Up. Oliven and I had a great time together.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mitchell and Katie Katz get married


November 1st, 2014 is the big day. Mitch and Katie tie the knot. We stayed home and planned to go to a tball game in the morning, but it was rained out- again! So, we headed down to the grocery store and Trader Joe's in the morning.
   In the afternoon the fun began. We got dressed and ready for the wedding and then got the boys into the car (we got them dressed at the Winery just in case). We did a few run through practices with our little ring bearers, and while they hit each other and weren't entirely cooperative in practice, they were perfect during the ceremony. I was very proud of them both. They were both super proud to be a part of Uncle Mitch and their new Aunt Katie's wedding. The ceremony was officiated by Katie's oldest brother, Michael. It is always nice to go to a wedding where the bride and the groom are so in love and are so good together. They really are meant for each other. The ceremony was short, but sweet. Katie and Mitch's vows were full of love and very touching.
  After the ceremony there were pictures and a wine and cheese reception. They boys thought this was great, but tried their best to fill up on it as if it were their dinner. We had a lovely dinner, the boys both chose the beef, so Justin and I had the fish, which was delicious. After dinner and chatting we had cake. The boys both inquired as to when that would be taking place several times. The carrot cake was super yummy- why don't I ever make that?
  The best part, in my opinion, was the dancing. It was so much fun. I love dancing-everyone knows that, but my kids really really loved dancing. Oliven was all about running around like a wild man and then having an adult pick him up, or dip him. He was having a blast. Vander liked dancing with a partner, learning to spin, spinning the person he was dancing with. Jerrie said that he was her best dance partner. It was really nice to spend time with the family and see everyone in one place. I wish we had gotten a chance to spend more time with the cousins, but I did get to chat with Drake and Ashley.
  The next afternoon we got a chance to hang out in Morgan Hill with the GG's, Deb, Bobby, Cordy and the Katz parents. I love it when you have quality time. And, you really can't beat Super Taqueria for dinner. What a fun weekend! Love you guys!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween

   I wanted to work out a way for the boys to not miss Halloween and to go to Mitch and Katie's
rehearsal dinner. When I told Vander we were going to the rehearsal and dinner he broke out in hysterical crying with heaving breaths and all...it's just not fair to take Halloween away from a 4 and 6 year old- they start thinking about what costume they are going to wear August 1st (because it's ALMOST Halloween- so they tell me for several months straight). It's the second best day of the year for a kid (second only to Christmas, but it ranks above their birthday cause that's a lot more candy than one piece of cake). Anyway, long story short, it just didn't work out, so Justin went to the rehearsal dinner (I really wish I could have been there, but it was 5-8 in San Francisco and that is really ALL of trick-or-treat time).
  The boys and I stayed home and the Lim and Walter families joined us at our house for a pizza
dinner followed by trick-or-treating. (I took Oliven to trick-or-treat in the morning with both families in downtown Willow Glen from store to store as well). The boys were very excited to have friends join them and it was great to see the Walter family again. They moved to Seattle several months back. We always have fun with the Lim family. Jason and Peng made sure that Justin knew that they were thinking of him by laying on our bed in his clothes. I left the candy bucket on the porch with a sign saying, "take one or two," and their was 1/3 of a bowl left when we got back, so I was impressed.
   The kids were very excited to trick-or-treat. Vander said, "trick-or-treat, may I have some ingredients," and he put them into his big metal bowl and whisked them up at each house. It was super cute. The boys were stoked with each piece of candy, informing me what they got and how many pieces. We were out for about an hour and a half before Jake and Elijah were done, so we headed back to our house. My boys got ready for bed and the other families headed up to the mountains for a party. Vander and Oliven enjoyed handing out candy to people who came to our door while I was reading to them and off to bed they went. Justin came home soon after and we went to bed to be ready for the wedding the next day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spontaneous fun and Red Robin FAIL

  Justin has been in Colorado- again...boo. Oliven got sick Sunday, so all day Monday I spent time with him reading and playing puzzles which are his favorite activities along with coloring. Needless to say, I was stir crazy by the afternoon. Tuesday was more of the same, we read an 80 page chapter book (The Fantastic Mr. Fox) and then went to the library to read another 15 books (which he claimed by his very favorite part of the day). It is pretty great how passionate he is about reading. I have always loved reading too. By the afternoon I was really looking forward to picking Vander up from Kids Connection (the after school Christian club) so that I could hang out with Carrie and catch up- I really miss our daily morning chats. Anyway, I mentioned that Justin was out of town and she suggested that we hang out for a bit and go out to dinner. I picked Red Robin in Morgan Hill...so we headed over to their hotel for a half hour while we waited for Peng to get home. We then headed to Red Robin. It was a 25 minute wait to be seated, so the kids ran around outside. After we were seated it took over 50 minutes (and a manager's help) to get our food. Peng and the kids were starving at that point. My salad had no dressing and the chicken in it was so dry that I couldn't swallow it. Several of the sides were missing or wrong.The manager gave us free desserts all around. My kids were thrilled. Oliven told me that it was his best day EVER! The kids had a great time hanging out together and it was great to catch up with my friends. They were planning to stay up late and pick the Walters up from the airport and not go to school the next 3 days.
  Other than having to eat my dessert with a knife because they didn't bring enough silverware and never came back, Vander's warm volcano was as hard as a hockey puck. I couldn't cut through it with a steak knife. Really not cool. I don't think I will go back to that Red Robin ever again. $17 later I felt like they should have paid me for the food we were served.
  The kids were thrilled to go to bed an hour and a half past their bed time on a school night. Ah, the little victories of being a kid. :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our fun weekend

  !!! How exciting! We love Justin and we haven't seen him in way too long. It was VERY exciting and unexpected!!!


What an awesome weekend! Friday night at 8:15pm a knock on the door...it was Sexy Justin
   Saturday morning it rained (not enough, and it cancelled tball, but I'll take any rain we can get), so we headed to Trader Joes and Safeway and they had some fun Halloween themed things set up. Then Saturday night was the Witch's party at Polly Ferguson's house, which is always fun and delicious.
   Sunday, Justin Williams came over for awhile and played games with us. He won all 3 of the games we played and he was very happy about that. We ended the night with Mick and Marisol for Mick's birthday dinner of shrimp scampi and salmon with spinach, followed by banana splits. What a great weekend with friends. The only down side is that Oliven got sick and has a cough. We just need to make sure that nobody is sick for Halloween or Mitch and Katie's wedding this weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eating healthy and listening- why is this soooo hard?!?

  Vander has been giving Justin and I a run for our money...he is really trying to challenge what it means to be a good parent...he only eats his treat (which I only make pretty healthy treats) and his fruit for lunch, then has to eat his veggies and main (like quiche or fish sticks, etc.) when he gets home- how is this possible? Why isn't he starving??? Maybe no more fruit in his lunch... Ahhh...
    The real problem though- the kid does NOT listen!!! He has his own agenda and what we say does not seem to matter to him at all. I know he hears me, but he just doesn't listen! How can you make a person listen? Time out does not seem to work. Justin and I finally yesterday got to the point where we told him if he got up again (after telling him 6 times at least) that he would be in his room the rest of the night. Surprise, surprise- he got up AGAIN!!!! So, I had to police him from 4-7pm in his room while Justin and Oliven went to tee ball. I hope missing it meant something to him because he was VERY high maintenance on time out. It was WAY more punishment for me than him as I was supposed to go exercise. I can only hope he learned something. I asked him what he learned and he looked at me with a questioning face and said, "I'm not supposed to stand up?" REALLY?!!!!???? I told him it was because he hasn't been listening. He was able to regurgitate that to Justin 20 minutes later, but who knows if anything sunk in or if we just wasted our time. AHHH...he is so frustrating! I know he is a good kid and is capable of making good choices, so why isn't he??? I don't expect perfection, but does every day have to be such a power struggle?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin patches



Usually we schedule about 3 of these trips and cancel two and have to reschedule one because of the rain...not this year. No rain in sight and it's still in the 90s like every day- a bit hot for the pumpkin patch, but man I have never seen so many people at the patches, so there's that. I guess the weather is stimulating the economy a bit. We have been twice, once with Oliven's preschool and then once the three of us since I thought Vander should have a chance to go to. After a couple of train rides and looking at pretty much every pumpkin and also going through hay mazes, we have had our fun at the patch this year.

Tee ball

  The boys are playing tee ball and they love it. Justin is enjoying it as well. He has been helping out as the third coach. The boys really like being on the same team for Fall ball (we like that too, because then they have the same schedule for games and practices). Vander is really liking playing 1st base. Their team name is the Power Rangers because they couldn't decide between the Giants and the Dodgers. They are maroon and play at Britton middle school, which is super convenient for Larry and Theresa. They have come to all the games and the boys love that as well. It's been pretty fun.
  Oliven is also in a teeball that my Las Madres friend, Kristin, is running on Thursday mornings and he loves that he gets to play tee ball twice in one day. :) He gets twice the practice playing tee ball and also gets to have some socialization with two different groups of boys.

Then and Now Day

   The first graders are learning the differences between 100 years ago and now. I got a chance to go in and share with the kids about both sides of Vander's family. Theresa let me borrow a picture of her grandparents and tell a bit about them.
Theresa shared with me: George Busch and Myrtle (Olsen) Busch lived on a farm in Hawarden, Iowa.  George was a livestock farmer (swine) and Myrtle was a stay at home Mother to five children.  They lived in Iowa all their lives with Myrtle living to 67 years of age and George to 88. Interesting fact:  The house they lived in had no indoor plumbing, so they used an "outhouse."  After Myrtle's death in 1968, George remarried, and moved to his new wife's house which had indoor plumbing. (And there was a pair of glasses, which ironically are back in style!)
I also got to bring in some old photos and letters from Grandma Gretchen's dad, Charles Ashbaugh, who learned the sugar beet business in Germany and brought it to the US. I had pamphlets and pictures as well as type written letters from the late 1800s. So cool. I also had the books Great Grandma Gertrude used to read to me as a kid that were written in the early 1900s.
   Vander did his compare and contrast project on movies of then and now. He watched a silent Charlie Chaplin movie with Oliven and I and we all really enjoyed it. The teacher asked if he would rather live then or now. He thought for a minute and said, "Then, but I would want to take the money I have with me now back with me." (Movie's used to cost a $0.05 and now they cost $10, that is 200 movies he could watch! Such a clever answer!
   The teacher's put on a Then and Now day and I went in to help. I was at the butter making station. All the kids dressed up and had a great time. They learned croquet, had a tea party, looked at old cars, made apple juice, wrote with a feather pen, and make corn husk dolls. I asked Vander what his favorite was and he said, "Well, I'm sorry mommy, but  I liked the tea party the best, but don't worry yours was second best." It was very sweet, and a fun day.

Our Second Charter School Gala

  I had a lot of fun, it's not really Justin's thing. I bought the signature cocktail, which gave me a chance to win a diamond bracelet (I did not win). I thought the drink would be like $15, but it turns out it was $40, luckily I made friends with the bar tenders, who "accidentally" gave me two more drinks free and for working the VIP table I got a free glass of champagne, so it all worked out. (I gave that last drink away, cause let's be honest, that is way too much alcohol for me!) Anyway, we won a Murder Mystery Party with the principal so that should be fun. I LOVE murder mystery parties...I just hope it's one Justin and I haven't done before. :) Justin and I volunteered for the first couple of hours of the Gala this year and we got tons of compliments on his Batman suspenders and our matching outfits (he wore his yellow pants and I wore my blinged out Batman bracelet.)

Vander's antics

  Sneaky little Vander (reminding me VERY much of sneaky little Freddie as a child) told me the other day that he would like me to leave the room so that he could concentrate and eat his carrots. I knew that he would not be eating them if I left the room- so I gave him the rope to hang himself in order to show him that not only did I know what he was up to, but that he would be punished if and when he decided to do it again. So, I left the room, and, like magic, the carrots disappeared.
I came back into the room less than 2 minutes later. This is how our conversation went:
Vander: I finished them! I told you I just needed to concentrate.
Me: Where are the carrots?
Vander: (with a dumbfounded look) They're in my tummy.
Me: Where are they really?
Vander: What do you mean?
Me: I will give you until the count of 3 to be honest with me, and then you will be in big trouble if you are still lying. 1....2....
Vander: Ok, ok, I'm sorry mommy. I put them down the garbage disposal. I'm so sorry. I know I shouldn't have done it.
This all went down at the same time our sinks keep clogging up. Once I thought I saw squash in one, but that didn't make sense, until Justin found whole grapes in our bathroom sink. Well, it turns out that Vander has been finishing his vegetables after school and when he doesn't want to finish he tells us he has to go to the bathroom so bad, and while he is in there he shoves his chewed up food down the drain. I asked him how many times he has done this- his answer, "at least three in each bathroom sink." Luckily draino cleared the sink drains, but Vander now has lost our trust and has to go to the bathroom BEFORE eating his vegetables. (He eats his lunch veggies at home because he "runs out of time" at school and I made a deal with him that he can have a lunch treat at school if he finishes his lunch veggies. He couldn't eat his whole lunch at school because of running out of time and he felt like he was the only kid without a treat ever day, so that was our compromise.) Ay yi yi!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Justin's adventures

So, the last month has been extraordinarily busy. Justin had 3 business trips, a trip to Tahoe for Mitch's bachelor party, and a 10-day trip to cruise the East Coast with Jon. Colby also came to visit and I went to San Diego all between August 19th and September 29th. I also started tutoring a 4th grade girl twice a week...it's been crazy. I haven't missed Justin so much since I went to Australia with my brothers in 2005...I am SOOO glad to get back to normal, and I know Justin is too. Vander also had a rough time (though I'm not sure he could tell you that or know why, but he missed his dad like crazy). Anyway, here is a brief write up of what Justin was up to over the last month and a half. No more months like this ever please!!! (Justin did the rest of the write up, why he wrote it as if he was me the world will never know)...

Justin was invited to go on a week-long Canadian / New England cruise with Jon at the end of August.  He flew into Montreal two days before the cruise left to connect with Jon and his parents and got a chance to walk around Montreal, climbing Mont Royal, sampling some Montreal smoked meats and indulging in poutine.  He also got a chance to walk around the old town at night, which they did a very good job of accentuating with lights.


Once on board the cruise ship Justin got a chance to visit Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Sydney & Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor, Maine.

 

Day by Day Highlights:

Day 1: Check-in Quebec City, Quebec. Walked up to the chateau at the top of the hill enjoying the fountains and mix of both old world and modern art


Day 2: Quebec City, Quebec. Watching the movie Chef, poker tournament that was finished in 3 hands, free slot tournament goodies as the winner, daily trivia


Day 3: Sea Day. Playing basketball with Jon and David, working out with Jon, nightly show on ship (singing and dancing)


Day 4: Prince Edward Island. Narrowly missing the downpour of rain, visiting the government buildings on the 150th anniversary of Canada becoming a country, browsing in the game store


Day 5: Sydney, Nova Scotia. Shopping in the terminal, walking around the small town, seeing a giant violin, nightly show on ship (Philippine dancers)


Day 6: Halifax, Nova Scotia. Walking up to the Halifax citadel and touring the facility to learn how soldiers lived in the 1800s, working out with Jon, watching X-Men: Days of Future Past, nightly show on ship (Comedy / Magic show similar to Penn and Teller)


Day 7: Bar Harbor, Maine. Touring and exploring Arcadia National Park, riding the tender boat to get ashore, working out with Jon, nightly show on ship (Broadway songs)

 



Obviously, the other major thing Justin did was eat on the ship and below he provided a list of everything he ate on the cruise ship:


Day 1

Lunch - cheese cubes, pineapple, beef loin, bok choi, chocolate and strawberry ice cream on a waffle cone

Dinner - salmon tartar, seared scallops, corn and clam chowder, roasted chicken with sausage corn bread stuffing, roasted vegetables, apple streusel, chocolate "brownie" cake

 

Day 2

Breakfast - smoked salmon, cheddar and jack cheese omelet with sausage and bacon, roasted potatoes, rye toast (2), sticky bun

Lunch - cheese cubes, Thai beef salad, pork in Peking sauce with green beans, egg roll, cheddar and crab soup, strawberry ice cream and pineapple sherbet on a waffle cone

Snacks - chocolate chip cookie, cheese cubes, meat pie

Dinner - smoked fish plate, salt cod and lobster cake, clam chowder, beet risotto with roasted duck on the side, dark chocolate truffle, chocolate croquet, tower of apples over sponge cake

 

Day 3

Breakfast - smoked salmon eggs Benedict (no hollandaise), with a side of corn beef hash and two hash browns

Lunch - goat cheese and prosciutto, beef loin with mushrooms and pecans and poutin on the side, double scoop of ice cream in waffle cone (3), pineapple, chocolate chip cookies (2)

Dinner - snails in butter garlic, beef carpaccio, seafood medley, Asian consume, beef Wellington, side of marinated flank steak, pineapple crisp, chocolate soufflé, popcorn

 

Day 4

Breakfast - omelet with bacon, shrimp and cheese with havarti and smoked salmon on top, hash browns and bacon

Lunch - fried rice, Vietnamese lamb, beef with snow peas and green beans, cheese cubes, Asian ribs, salami, prosciutto, bacon and cheese sandwich, strawberry ice cream and black cherry yogurt on a waffle cone

Dinner - warm smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail, chicken noodle soup, crab cake over jalapeño cheese grits, peach crisp, popcorn (3), chocolate covered strawberries (4), brownie (3), chocolate biscotti

 

Day 5

Breakfast - two poached eggs over crab and smoked salmon English muffins, waffle with strawberries and chocolate sauce

Lunch - pineapple, sushi (2), ginger chicken soup, broccoli, leeks with bacon, cheese burger with guacamole and crispy onions, chocolate ice cream and Oreo yogurt in waffle cone, chocolate chip cookies (2)

Dinner - mussels, crab and shrimp, assorted meats, Caesar salad with anchovies, chili relleños, raspberry sherbet with chocolate ("watermelon" pie), brownie fudge sundae, chocolate avalanche cake

 

Day 6

Breakfast - waffle with chocolate and berry sauce, two poached eggs with crab and cheese on English muffins, strawberries

Lunch - sushi (3), ramen noodles with chicken and veges (2), Korean ribs (3), pork and veges in sauce, mint n chip and strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone, mint n chip I've cream, mango sorbet and strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone, popcorn (2)

Dinner - jumbo shrimp, sweet breads, duck and sausage gumbo, surf n turf (2 lobster tails), flourless chocolate cake (2), popcorn (2)

 

Day 7

Breakfast - smoked salmon and havarti, pineapple, waffles with fruit sauce (2)

Lunch - beef loin (2), beef Tagalog and onions, calami and veges, sushi (2), cactus and chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone

Dinner - baked Brie with Apple cranberry sauce, Vietnamese spring roll, duck over bacon, glazed beef with Portobello mushrooms over cheese grits,

 

Day 8

Breakfast - egg Benedict (no hollandaise) with crab and smoked salmon, pineapple, hash browns, bacon, waffles with chocolate and berry sauce.

Justin also went up to Tahoe for a long weekend for his brother Mitch’s bachelor party.  There was a huge fire in the forest leading up to the mountain but the roads were open so they forged on and ended up having a weekend of playing billiards, beer pong (just for the sport of it, no drinking required), and watching a lot of sports and old movies on TV.  IT was a laid back weekend where Justin got a chance to meet all of his brother’s best friends.

 
Justin also had quite a few work trips in the past month, starting with a three day trip back east to Bethesda, Maryland, which happened right before his cruise with Jon, then quickly followed by a three day trip to Denver on Sept 15-17 and another two day trip back to Denver the following week on Sept 23-24.  He got back just in time for me to head down to San Diego on Sept 25th.

Monday, September 29, 2014

San Diego and the end of the craziness


  To end the craziness of Justin's business trip, his cruise, Colby's trip and Justin's brother's bachelor party in Tahoe and 3 other business trips (all in a matter of 30 days)...I headed down to San Diego. To be fair, we booked the San Diego trip WAY before we new about all this other stuff and we couldn't change the dates because the only other people that are in the midst of more craziness than us is Annie and Freddy, cause Freddy's 8 month long deal is FINALLY (hopefully) coming to a close. I didn't want to add to their stress. Let me just say, I am very relieved to get back to normal. Our lives aren't perfect, but they are pretty good and we have all been stressed for the last month- some of us consciously and some of us subconsciously.
  I flew down to San Diego on Thursday and Karen and Uncle Ken met me at the airport. It was such a nice, positive, fun welcoming party. They drove me up to Annie and Freddy's house and we played with the girls and had some fun quality time together as a family. It was really nice. Uncle Ken has this strange idea that Karen and I talk too much and he can't get in to say a word...he even raised his hand, which was adorable. It was so nice to see the girls...they have grown up so much, the little toddlers. They loved the suitcase of books I brought down for them. They absolutely love books.
  On Friday, Annie and the girls and I hung out and played. Grandpa and Grandma came up for brunch at 11 and we had a great time with them one-on-one. It was really great to spend quality time with them. Grandma was being sassy and kept trying to get Grandpa to leave. He would reply, "Why so we can go home and not talk to each other?" I think he really enjoyed the conversation. Annie made Monkey bread, eggs and fruit and I think Grandpa really enjoyed the conversation. They left around 2pm and we took the girls outside to play.
  On Saturday morning (after working until 3:30am) Freddy headed back to work until around 4pm. Annie and I (mostly Annie) got ready for the family to come over for a BBQ in the afternoon. It was so much fun having everyone hang out. Hedy even commented that we should get together more often when it's not a holiday. We even made s'more's in the fire pit in the back yard.
  Sunday Annie had a baby shower to go to in Orange County. Andrea and Jules came down to hang out with Freddy, the girls and I. We had a really good time. It has been WAY too long since I have seen her and Jules has a full head of blond curls and big brown eyes. All the babies got along pretty well together. Then, around 3 Freddy and I headed down to the storage shed in Spring Valley to see what was really in there and how much there was...it wasn't as much as he made it sound. It was mostly photos, video tapes and some other stuff that is probably not salvageable. We were both glad we went...it was good to have an idea for next time and we both know now that it's not worth the $ we pay for it yearly. I took as many pics as I could and we brought a few other boxes home so they don't get
ruined. It's about 5ftx5ftx5ft of stuff.
  Tuesday morning I hung with 3 of my favorite ladies, then Karen came to hang for a bit, Annie made us lunch, and Karen took me to the airport. It was so nice to get some much quality time with my family on this trip! I cherish every minute. :) Miss you all so much. Love you all!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Vander and Ollie isms

    This morning Vander looked at me and said, "We are rich. You grew up poor and now we are rich. I know I am rich cause I have $25 in my crayon bank, so I'm super rich." I have told them many stories about my childhood and we were for sure living below the poverty line. Freddy and I often talk about what we thought was "normal" that we would never in a million years find acceptable now. Partly we didn't know any better and partly we didn't have a choice. Every day I appreciate and marvel at the fact that my mom raised three kids on her own without being able to walk or see well. And, of all the people in my life EVERYONE I know loved and respected it was my mom.
  Yesterday Oliven decided to write a book about preschool and how much he loves it (he did an amazing job), and when we got to his teachers names, Nicole and Sheila, I spelled them out for him. "Mommy, you spelled Msheila wrong, it starts with an mmmm sound." Oliven has known Nicole for a long time so calling her Miss Nicole made sense, but Miss Sheila he met for the first time when he started preschool. He calls her Miss Msheila. How cute is that, he just put the two together to get an amalgamation and has been calling her that ever since. So adorable!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pre-school, working out and MOPS


  Life is back in full swing. Oliven is back in pre-school. He is attending the Cubbie Hole again this year (with his best buddy Nicole) and he is reading to the class now...he is a REALLY good reader! He loves every minute of preschool time. He is going Mondays and Wednesdays this year. Preschool is giving me the chance to work out (thank goodness, I have been needing to get back into shape. Summer was rough on the exercise front with both kids at my side all day every day). It is also giving me a chance to spend some time volunteering in Vander's classroom this year. I'm excited to see how that goes. I will be there for at art time. I also joined MOPs this year, which is learning to be a better parent for Mothers Of Preschoolers. I have loved both meetings that I have been to so far. I also was asked to substitute teach at the Charter school this year, which is great news for me. :)