Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Justin's 35th birthday

   I know it's a month early, but for Justin's birthday this year we headed to Yountville for some much needed rest and some amazing meals. We went to Bottega, which is Michael Chiarello's restaurant. Justy had the risotto and I had the raviolo with the egg inside. They were amazing and rich and such a nice ambiance. Then we walked around a bit at the shops and headed over to check in to our hotel. We watched a movie together and went to dinner at Thomas Keller's (the guy who owns French Laundry) Ad Hoc- Larry and Theresa's birthday gift to Justin along with watching the kids! THANK YOU SO MUCH! They offer a set menu. The salad was amazing- it had hazelnuts in it, which I loved. Then they brought out ribs with macaroni and coleslaw. The macaroni was so good. Of all the things to think are super yummy, who would have guessed it would be the macaroni??? They then brought out walnuts and white cheddar. Lastly, was a make-your-own sundae with house-made ice cream, butterscotch, chocolate and strawberry sauce. They also had cream and pecans. We left feeling stuffed and full of rich, decadent food. Justy's favorite was the ribs-no surprise there.
  It was kind of nice to walk around in the rain. It has been so long since we have had a good bought of rain.
  In the morning we headed over to Bouchon Bakery for a fabulous pastry for breakfast. Justin went with the sticky bun and I had the cream cheese danish. Wow! So so fabulous. Justin's favorite thing to do is soak in the tub, so we made sure to fit that in before checking out of the room. I would describe it as a bed and breakfast without the breakfast. It was a cute little room with a four poster bed, but most of the money went into the bathroom with the huge soaking tub.
  On the way home we stopped at the Outlet mall in Sonoma and then went to lunch at highly recommended hamburger spot called Gott's Roadside. Yum oh! Then it was time to head home. It took a while with the rain. Justin said on the way home that this was the best birthday present and hint hint he would love to do it every year. He mentioned Vegas could be fun. I think that's sort of ambitious, but I guess we will see what we can arrange in the future. ;)
  The boys had a fabulous time with their grandparents while we were gone. They played lots of games including a rousing game of Monopoly and Life. They ate pizza and chocolate chip waffles. In Ollie's words, "we had a fabulous time."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Front teeth

This year Oliven lost his front teeth for's super cute. He lost one of the front teeth and the other one was hanging by a thread for the next few days. It looked very hobo. I tried to get Ollie to loose his teeth before school pictures this year (they were both already loose), but he just wasn't ready. It's pretty darn adorable and he knows I think so...which means he gives me that cute little smile often and I love it!

Crazy meal

We picked Vander up from a play date and headed straight to the grocery store to grab our foods. For crazy meal this year we ended up with bagels covered crab and bbq pop chips crumbled up and mixed together, fish sticks, everything pizza, and chocolate chip waffles with chayote squash cooked in sugar and butter on top. It was unique to be sure. Justin picked out the crab, Van picked out the chips and waffles, Ollie picked out the fish sticks, and I picked the pizza and chayote. It was a fun evening. We ate together in the livingroom and watched a superhero cartoon. We love our crazy meal. This is one of our favorite traditions for advent. We all look forward to it and it doesn't disappoint.

Advent list 2015

This years advent list included:

Advent 2015:
·         Dinner with the Lim’s and Walter’s
·         Playdate
·         Make mandel bread
·         Polar Express at CSMH
·         Breakfast with Santa & Chanukah with family
·         Make donuts and decorate outside lights
·         Crazy meal
·         Write a Christmas story
·         Anderson School Holiday Party @ Chevy’s
·         Holiday dance party
·         Make a fort
·         Movie theater and popcorn
·         Gingerbread houses & Houlton Court holiday block party
·         Holiday movie as a family
·         Christmas in the park
·         Make sugar cookies
·         Living room picnic and a show
·         Hot cocoa -- Holiday lights and candy canes at bedtime (surprise with golden tickets)
·         Decorate cookies & Family games
·         Grammy & Pop’s visit
·         Grammy & Pop’s visit
·         Snowman pancakes
·         Put train together
·         Christmas Eve, Grammy and Pops for dinner

Our holiday letter 2015

This years holiday letter:

December 2015

Dear family and friends,
  Last year I didn’t write a holiday letter and several of my friends were disappointed. We don’t want that! So, this year let me share the holiday spirit by telling you all about our 2015.
                Justin continues to work at Lockheed. He has been working with a great partner this year that has challenged him, mentored him, worked well with him, and ultimately been his friend. Unfortunately, his colleague will be retiring this month.  Justin has also been trying to go shoot his bow and arrows at least a couple of times a month. For our anniversary I got him a bow so he can someday be like the Green Arrow. ;)
                Vander is in second grade and has a male teacher this year. He loves his class and finally has his good friend Bella in his class. They have been friends since they were babies. Vander has been playing baseball, and even had Justin and Larry as coaches this fall. He got a chance to pitch in a couple of the games. He is also swimming on the Los Paseos penguins in the summer. He really loved hanging out with his big buddies, Ben and Maddie. Vander continues to question everything and challenge us constantly. He has also developed a love of cooking. He genuinely enjoys cooking and eating. He has been cooking with me once a week. He originally said that he was going to cook once a month on the 21st, but might have to skip his birthday (May 21) and ½ birthday (November 21) because he might be tired from all that cooking. He is the head chef and I am his sous chef that preps with the sharp knives. His new nickname is “Cumin” because he loves to cook and ask questions (Q man). Vander wants to be a chef and policeman when he grows up. At the moment Vander is researching fish in his free time because he would like to make a poster board of fish facts.
                As for Oliven, Kindergarten is a dream come true. He absolutely loves school. He is the most academic kid I have ever met. In his free time he reads, writes books, does math workbook pages, and recently started really getting into coloring, mazes, and search and finds. Oliven reads at a 3rd grade level fluently, but his comprehension can’t quite keep up with his skills. He wants to be a professional reader when he grows up. Ollie played baseball on Vander’s team in the spring, but doesn’t really have a desire to continue playing. He also joined the swim team over the summer and really loved it - he can’t wait to swim again and is hoping I will sign him up for swimming in the Spring as well. Oliven loves being at the same school as Vander. They both went to an afterschool program called Kids Connection that is essentially like a vacation bible school and they are both big fans – I honestly think their favorite part is the snacks.
                As for me, I started working part time at Anderson Elementary School. I’m really enjoying being back in the classroom. I am currently teaching on Thursdays and Fridays. I have a 3rd grade class with some pretty great kids and lots of support. I am getting to participate in some really good career trainings. They are extra days, but I feel like I am learning tons of great techniques. I am substitute teaching at the Charter school where the boys go to school on Mondays and Tuesdays. They think it’s pretty cool when they see me at school. They really want me to get a job there. I have told them that I’m trying – that is why I am not working full time this year. Wednesdays I am in a Mom’s group called Moms next and then I volunteer at CSMH in each of the boys classes.

Have a great holiday season everyone!
If you want to read more about our lives or see some pictures:
Much love,                                               

(Justin, Ashley, Vander, and Oliven)