Thursday, January 30, 2014

Justin turns 33

For Justin's birthday this year Theresa and Larry had us over for steaks, spinach casserole, bread and salad. Oliven and Vander helped decorated Justin's chocolate cherry cake with chocolate fudge frosting with m&m's and marshmallows. He got 2 games for his birthday and a  cooking class at Sur La Table. We love you Justy Woo!

Tahoe trip






We took a trip to Lake Tahoe with the Walter and Lim families and had a blast. We left at 9am and stopped at Wendy's on the way to Tahoe for lunch. Vander asked if we could make that a tradition because he really enjoyed his 1/2 of a frosty. When we got there, we checked out the prices for sledding at Adventure Mountain ($20 per car), ice skating ($20/adult and $15/kid), and walked around for a while. We took the kids to a candy store and let them pick out a treat before taking them to the movies to see Nut Job. It was a cute kid movie and they both really enjoyed it. When it was over we picked up pizza and some groceries and headed back to the cabin to meet up with our friends. We had dinner with the Lim family and the kids stalled and played while we waited for the Walters to get there.
  The kids all headed off to bed after Justin read them all a story. We played Small World while Casey rested (she was sick all weekend :( ). We had a good time, but it's a pretty complex game while doing lots of chatting and the guys with their "pretend cheating".
  The next morning after breakfast (chorizo eggs with mostly baked monkey bread and vacation cereal) and cartoons we all headed over to the Adventure mountain to go sledding. It was really quite fun...the snow was very icy, but the sledding was great. The kids enjoyed making snow balls and throwing them and I helped Oliven build a very small snowman. The guys started sled racing, which turned into Father/son sled racing and they all enjoyed themselves very much. After about 2 hours the kids were pretty much done, so we headed back to the cabin to warm up and eat some lunch.  Casey made chili, which was very warming (though we did pay for that a little later in the evening as far as the guys were concerned). The three women and Eli opted to take a nap and the guys and kids went hot tubbing in the back yard. They had a great time (so I heard later).
  I woke up to some very loud singing by Peng and Jason. So, I decided that was my cue to dance...oh what fun we had for at least an hour...probably more. I love dancing! Carrie got in on it for a little bit too. Soon after, Justin returned from downtown with a 20" cookie for the kids to share (and the adults too) and they of course loved that and ate it right up.
  My family took a little walk down to the park and the Lake to enjoy the swings for a bit before it got dark...Peng and Jason followed suit, but they decided to break the ice and chill their feet down in the water. Silly boys... We all had a yummy dinner of rice with broccoli and roasted meat from the crock pot. Soon after the kids settled down with baths and went to bed. We played Uno with Van and Ollie 3 times before their story.
  We decided hot tubbing was a priority and went out and dipped in the warmth and chatted for a while. After coming in an showering we decided it was time to play a rousing game of 7 Wonders...which turned into 3 games. We were just having so much fun...then off to bed.
  In the morning we ate leftovers- there were so many we had to throw a lot away, so that worked out nicely. We all cleaned up, took a delightful group photo, and the Lim's headed down to Tracy for Chinese New Year with Peng's family and the Walters and my family walked down to the Lake for a bit. We headed home soon after to avoid any possible traffic. We then laughed when we ended up at a Subway in Tracy for lunch. It was a great trip, and tons of fun. Justin was even pretty chill. Traveling with the Lim and Walter families was easy, relaxing, and really fun.

French cooking class





  At the Charter school auction this year Justin and I won a cooking class from a classically trained chef. We invited Mick and Sol to join us and we had a really fun date night. We started out with a  cheese tray and we worked with the chef to make a salad niscoise with dressing and beef bourguignon. She answered all of our cooking questions and we all had the realization that we are better cooks than we realized.
We had a really fun evening with delicious food and great friends. The dessert was a super rich chocolately delight. And, we met some really great ladies and loved hearing the stories the chef, Jenette, told us- she was quite a character.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Vander's haircut


  Justin has been out of town (in Alabama for work) and I have been pretty good about keeping the boys busy- science experiments, art projects, play date where kids came over to scooter in the front yard, Grammy came over and took us to Subway for dinner (yum, thanks!), so yesterday I thought it would be nice to let the kids watch a movie since they haven't watched any cartoons this week...well...Vander was making (cutting) snowflakes over the trash in the living room while they watched a movie. I was in the other room looking at a magazine when Vander shows up and asks, "how does it look?" Ummm, you don't have anything in your hand..."my hair mommy. I cut it myself. I thought I would be good at it because I'm such a good cutter."
  Nothing says impromptu haircut like chunks missing from your head. Honestly, I was really trying not to laugh because his head looked ridiculous and it's such an easy fix. I was relieved that he hadn't cut his brother's hair or cut himself. He cut his hair really close to the scalp. 
  Needless to say, we all headed down to the haircut place. He had to get a pretty short buzz and it still has some shorter spots, but I didn't want to take a razor to it. His head will be cold enough this winter.
Van was really upset about the whole situation and even said, "I wish I could glue my hair back on." He is worried that everyone is going to say he looks like a girl. There is a girl at his school has cancer and lost her hair in chemo, so he assumes that shaving your head is a girl "thing." We will see how today goes. I don't think he'll be making that mistake again.

Monday, January 6, 2014

30 Day Challenge

  I did a four day challenge in November and now it is time to do the 30 day challenge...here are my before pictures. Wish me luck. January 6, 2014. Let's see if I can get rid of a few inches, especially around the middle. Yikes.


Last days of Winter break


   On Saturday we took the boys to Happy Hollow park and Zoo, which
they of course loved. We wanted to take them Friday, but Vander was not listening and was so naughty that we had to take it away from him so he would learn. Sometimes lessons for the kids can be just as hard or harder for the adults. Anyway, he made better choices so we were able to take them on Saturday. They really loved the roller coaster ride and of course riding the barrel horses is always fun.
We wanted to make the boys last days of Winter break a fun and memorable, so on Saturday night I let the boys have a "sleep over" in Oliven's room. They LOVED the idea. We let them chat for about a half hour before having them go to sleep and then they got to play with each other in the morning as soon as they woke up. They had so much fun that they didn't start eating breakfast until 8:45am, which is super late for them. We then took them to Golfland to go mini golfing. We have never taken them mini golfing before...they had a great time.
It was a bit frustrating for Justin and I because Vander kept switching sides and hitting super hard and Ollie was only putting and wouldn't hit hard enough to get the ball near the cup. The main point though was that they really enjoyed themselves and were very grateful. Vander is convinced that he is a mini golf professional- he did get a hole in two on one of the holes. Afterwards, we took them to Costco for lunch. They have been asking to go there and have samples. We don't have a membership, so I tried to convince them to just have a hotdog, but they really wanted samples, so we walked in and had a couple, then got hotdogs for the boys. We also let the boys watch The Santa Clause 1,2,and 3 over the break. (The third was a bit over their heads, but they like the daddy time).
  This morning I dropped Vander off at school and as soon as I got home I missed him so much. Seems crazy, but who can explain emotions. (I even shed a couple tears- emotional much?) It was really so nice having him home for break. I love my boys so much.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our 2013 Holiday letter



December 11, 2013
Happy Holidays friends and family,
  I am happy to send this letter out as my year in review thinking back on the year with a, “hey, it’s been a pretty good year.” Overall, life has been good. (Termites excluded, but if that’s the worst thing this year, I’ll take it).
  We started off 2013 having just found out Annie and Freddy were pregnant…with identical twins! Their baby girls were born June 19th , Emmie and Molly, and they are the sweetest little cousins Vander and Ollie could have ever hoped for.  They finally got to meet each other in November when we brought the boys down to San Diego for Thanksgiving with my family and the boys were enamored. I also have the honor to be Emmie’s Godmother! Justin has been very happy to pass on as much baby stuff as he can to his new nieces and my best friend Andrea and Josh’s new baby boy, Jules. (Who has the middle name Parker- after Peter Parker. Love it!)
  We took a few trips this year starting with a trip to Tahoe with friends to play in the snow and had a great time with the Walter and Kurtz families. I was able to fly out to see Colby in Colorado with Freddy in March and spend some quality sibling time. Then in the summer we took our first real family vacation of significance. JAVO (My name for our family- Justin, Ashley, Vander and Oliven) hit the road for 11 days and 10 nights. We went up through Oregon, Washington, and even visited Vancouver. We were able to see Great Aunt Vicki and Uncle Brad and family, the Hiller Family, and Uncle Gary and Aunt Jerrie. It really was an amazing trip. We all loved Seattle-riding the ferris wheel, seeing the Mariners game and exploring the city, and both boys loved the suspension bridges in Vancouver. We saw several Discovery Museums and had lots of delicious foods. The boys proved to be good little travelers and have been bit by the travel bug. They can’t wait to go more places. They have been to 5 states and 2 countries now.
  During the summer my neighbor Christi and I decided to take our kids on magic carpet rides to learn about different countries. We looked at slides, talked about cultures, made crafts, and ate the foods of Canada, Russia, South Africa, Italy, and Germany.
  We decided to get a pool membership to the pool nearby to put all the boy’s swim lessons to use. It was great. The boys loved swimming and we enjoyed watching their progress. Both of the boys enjoyed jumping off the diving board (not my favorite thing to watch).
  The boys played t-ball together and had a great time. Vander is getting really good without the tee.
   Vander also lost his first two teeth this summer after a fun day at Happy Hallow Park and Zoo (thanks Colby!).
  A first for the Katz boys this year…not only did we go camping (once in a yurt with the Zwingman family) we also went TENT camping for the first time. Justin didn’t hate it and the boys enjoyed it. We went with Ollie’s Las Madres group, and had a good time hanging out with friends. Justin actually liked the tent part of the camping.
  We started growing a pretty good garden this year with an abundance of eggplant, jalapenos and tomatoes. I also took out our privacy hedges and planted 6 trees. Vander thinks we are “regular farmers now.”
  The most exciting thing for us this year is that Vander started Kindergarten and Oliven started preschool. Both boys are LOVING school. Vander got into the Charter School of Morgan Hill which is absolutely amazing! Along with his regular subjects he also has Spanish, Music, Art, Agricultural Science, and P.E. He sings me new songs in Spanish weekly. Oliven is loving the Cubbie Hole started by our good friend Ms. Nicole Rogerson. He thinks he’s just going to hang out with his friend, Nicole, twice a week.
  We hope your lives have been as entertaining as ours and that this letter finds you in good health and good company.
Love to all,
                         JAVO                                                             For more info. my blog: Vanderkatz.blogspot.com

Happy New Year

  New Years Eve brought a lot of fun for our family. The boys were invited down to Grammy and Pop's house for a sleep over. They headed down at around 3:15pm New Years Eve. Ollie counted bikes and Vander counted cows on the way down. When they arrived they played on their wiggle riders for about 45 minutes. They then headed inside for a rousing bought of building Kinex followed by several games of Uno. They had a delicious dinner of appetizers including meatballs, cheeses, and cuties. Afterwards they had a "Chocolate bomb" dessert from Red Robin and settled in to watch Turbo with Grammy and Pops while indulging in some popcorn. They then brushed their teeth with fingers (oops we may have forgotten to pack toothbrushes) and watched the East Coast feed of the ball dropping which listening to people shoot off fireworks all over town. They drifted off to sleep (as did Grammy) at the end of Grammy and Pops' bed and stayed asleep until 7:15am. Then, they were up, eating pancakes with banana and syrup, coffee cake and watching cartoons. After a long game of Sorry they were headed back home having been spoiled and having had a great time with their grandparents. The boys came home in their new matching shirts and started playing Kinex again immediately.
  Justin and I took our kid-free time to see the second Hunger Games movie. It was intense, but very well done and a great movie. We then picked up Chinese food on our way back to our house to meet up with Arielle and Jerry. We ate a delicious dinner and brownies for dessert (Justin's favorite with walnuts, chocolate chips and dried cherries- they really are quite good, it's a mix, but I use one less egg and they are quite decadent with all the add-ins). We played Flux, Ticket to Ride and Ra. Arielle melted at 11pm, so we popped open the sparling cider and toasted to the new year and they headed home. Justin and I played another game of Ra, got ready for bed and then watched the ball drop. I got my new years kiss and we headed off to bed. Happy New Year everyone!

COLB and Christmas

  Colby (who has decided the ee sound at the end of his name is too feminine sounding, and who Vander has decided to call CC, since Colby calls him VB) came to visit us for 6 days and it was truly fantastic to have him around. He is such a great guest...he is happy to do most things (except get up early) and loves to play with the kids. I have decided that 3 adults to 2 kids is really the perfect ratio. We played 22 games over the course of Colby's visit with us. Justin decided to keep track of wins and losses so that he can figure out why he looses so much...turns out he doesn't loose that often, but Colby is the King of 2nd place.
  Colby got to be a part of our cookie decorating party tradition. Larry and Theresa joined us at our house to decorate the 45 cookies that I had made with Colby's help the night before. We had brunch and enjoyed each others company. The boys really enjoyed decorating cookies this year. They actually decorated more than they ate. :)
  While Colby we here we had our 4th annual block party with the neighborhood- potluck, cookie decorating, caroling, and hanging out by the fire pit. Vander was just getting over being sick, so he didn't stay long. Ollie checked it all out, but decided that he was ultimately tired.
  Colby and I took the boys for a hike one morning, they absolutely loved it. Vander didn't want to every turn around and come home, he was determined to just keep going. It was really nice that he was so enthusiastic. We ended up being gone about 2 hours- that is a long way for Ollie's little legs.
  Christmas Eve morning we tried to make cinnamon rolls from scratch- they turned out awful because the coil in the oven broke, so they had to cook longer and became rubbery. After breakfast we headed out to the front yard and played street tennis with the boys. It was actually pretty enjoyable. In the afternoon we headed down to Larry and Theresa's house for an evening of relaxation and chili with cheese and crackers. When we got home we made a plate of cookies and a bag of snowflakes for Santa, said goodbye to Teddy (our Elf on the Shelf who has watched over the boys all December), left Gingerbread houses for Elves, left art for Mrs. Clause and of course carrots for the reindeer and headed off to bed.
  Christmas morning we got up at 6:45am to see what Santa brought. All of our stockings were filled with goodies. Vander said to me, "I'm so glad I didn't tell Santa what to get for me because he did such a good job on his own!" Vander's special gift was a Batman wallet and Oliven's special gift was Monster's Inc. figurines and Daisy for his bed. At around 10am Mitch, Katie, Larry and Theresa showed up and we had brunch. Justin and I made Egg white Enchiladas with green sauce, Stollen (a traditional German bread), and fruit salad. We also had bagels with cream cheese and lox. Theresa brought up Monkey bread. I opened up a bottle of sparkling cider. Vander and I both had a glass. His comment about it was, "Hmmm, it tastes kind of wrinkly in my mouth."
After brunch we opened presents. We took turns going from youngest to oldest in Theresa's family's tradition- which I really like. It was a fun and quaint morning. The kids couldn't wait to open all their gifts and get started using them all! If you look closely you can see that my mom got in the picture on Christmas as well- she is the white spot in front of me by Vander. Thanks for coming by Madre!!!
  After quiet time we headed down to Larry and Theresa's house for Christmas dinner (a repeat of Thanksgiving dinner). While we were there the guys finished putting together the kids wiggle riders from Aunt Karen and Uncle Ken and they had a blast riding them around. Those things are really super cool.
  The next day we had a relaxing morning and more game playing with Colby and then after quiet time we headed out to Nickel City with the boys to enjoy some arcade fun. Colby and I played Tetris together with the screen on the fritz and still really enjoyed ourselves. I can't remember the last time I played Tetris with my bro. It was really fun. We came back to our house for a quick grilled cheese dinner before Justin and Colby headed back to the San Francisco airport. We miss you Colby!!! The next day Vander said, "I miss Colby already. Can he come back tomorrow and stay for the rest of my life?" He's not asking for much...what do you say Colb?

Christmas in the Park

  We picked up some Subway sandwiches and headed down town to Christmas in the park...they boys love Subway sandwiches. They call it their favorite healthy fast food restaurant. Anyway, it was pretty chilly, so we all bundled up and found a bench in Christmas in the Park to eat our sandwiches and people watch at the same time. We also really enjoyed the very large Christmas tree and the boys asked about every single ride and how tall they had to be to go on them. When we were done eating we walked around and looked at all the trees and animated displays. Oliven was most taken with the train. He really wanted to ride it even though it was just for show. It was fun to see everything glowing at twilight. At the end of one of the rows we stopped and bought a hot chocolate to share.
It was hot cocoa (I asked the guy to put ice in it so it wouldn't be as hot) with marshmallows, whip cream, more whip cream, sprinkles, chocolate sauce and a couple of cherries. It was quite decadent and we all (not Justin of course) really enjoyed the novelty of it and the warmth it provided. After that we finished walking around and headed back to the car. We passed the ball machine in front of the Tech museum and watched that for 10 minutes or so...both boys agreed that that was their favorite part of the evening.