Friday, December 30, 2016

Anaheim for Christmas

  The first thing that happened on the holiday break for the boys was a morning hanging out with Grammy. It was really fun for them, and in the mean time it was a teacher work day. The work day turned into a mandatory party (as it was voted to do the work Wednesday evening and then have the party Thursday morning). After that we packed up to head down to Anaheim.
  Bright and early December 23rd we headed down to Anaheim to stay with Annie, Freddy, Emmie, Molly, and Hattie. Colby was staying with them as well. Bonus! We got there at lunch time and Annie had made a bacon-potato soup with a pasta salad. The soup was a huge hit with all the boys. I really liked the salad. It was so nice to see the Grand's - all of them. Being with my family really brings joy into my heart.
 We played all day with the cousins, went to a church service, and had an appetizer night for Christmas Eve. We also opened the gifts we had for each other. As for Church - it was standing room only, which nobody was really happy about, but that is the nature of Church on Christmas Eve, Vander and Emmie entertained each other and enjoyed themselves (Vander was adamantly against going and cried about it earlier in the day, but I couldn't let him out of it after he threw a tantrum), Oliven was pretty pouty throughout, but it was Jesus' birthday, not theirs so we did what Jesus wanted for his party. There was really no good story or message, which is always my favorite part of the service so I was a little bummed, but I know they did the parts that the Catholic Church feels is the most important.
Don't forget to look at the dollhouse in the background!
  Christmas was fantastic. Santa came in the morning. He must have done lots and lots of  preparing the night before and stayed up super late because the girls got a giant doll house (5'x3'). It was really incredible. At 6am we woke Annie and Freddie up as well as the girls for Santa gifts and stockings. The boys were stoked. Vander said, "All this stuff was on my Christmas list, well it wasn't cause I didn't know I wanted it, but I would have put it on my list if I had remembered to." I went back to bed for a few hours while the kids played. The rest of the family (Grandma Gretchen, Grandpa David, Uncle Ken, Aunt Karen, Heidi, and Anthony) came at noon.
We all mingled and enjoyed each other's company. At around 3pm we had Christmas dinner - prime rib - I love prime rib. After a lovely dinner and dessert of cherries in the snow it was time for the white elephant gift exchange. Vander was stoked that I ended up with a basketball hoop for behind the door as my white elephant gift.
 Next, it was time to let the kids open their gifts from everyone. It was really cool to hear the boys say, "oh my gosh, this is just what I wanted. How did they know?" Karen got everyone a dreidle as well with candy in it and everyone enjoyed that. Though, they never did teach Karen how to play and they forgot to sing her some Christmas carols. During the day we made sure that everyone filled out a favorite's sheet for the favorite's book the boys are making. It's "Our Favorite People's Favorite Things." Overall a very fun day.
The evening, after the kids went to bed brought even more fun. We played beer pong, which I have actually never played before,  and King's Cup. Even Justin played King's Cup - he just drank water on his turns instead of beer. Heidi, Anthony, Freddy, Annie, Justin and I had a really good time and again went to bed way too late.
  In the morning we hung out around the house for a while. Heidi and Anthony went to Santa Barbara to pick up his new car. The rest of us headed out to go bowling. The kids had a great time. Freddy and Annie both got turkeys when we went bowling. Nice! Justin ended up beating them both, so you know he was on his game. We came home for nap and quiet time and the guys and I played a rousing game of Istanbul. I whipped up. We had 2 rematches after bedtime and Freddy won once and then Colby annihilated us all in the third game.
  We went to Deb's house on the 27th. Justin went out to lunch with Walter - all you can eat sushi. Walter is having some tough stuff go on in his life right now and Justin wants to be there for him. The rest of us stayed at Deb's and played Oliven's new game from Santa, Tokaido, twice and had some grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. We had some really good quality time with the Pint's. I am so glad we got a chance to see Deb and Heather together. It really was a delight.
We headed back to Anaheim around 4 and got stuck in some traffic. Oliven started feeling sick so we bought him some medicine. We met up with the Grand family at a pizza place to play some airhockey and eat pizza. After Oliven spilled his water twice and Emmie spilled hers we decided to cut our losses and head back. The kids were all tired. We watched a little tv - Top Chef and Martha and Snoops cooking show (Martha Stewart and Snoop Dog). It was oddly entertaining. We all headed off to bed.
  In the morning I got up early to help Oliven get some medicine and got a chance to just chat with Freddy for a while. I got a good chance to talk with Colb on the trip because we took a walk each day for exercise. It was really nice. Around 9am we had cleaned everything up that we could and packed our stuff. We drove up to L.A. to have brunch with Jon. We went to a place called, "More Than Waffles". Everyone really enjoyed their food. Nutella banana waffle for Justin and Jon, chocolate peanut butter waffle for Vander, and breakfast special for Oliven. My crepe was super salty, so I sent it back for a waffle with nuts. Not great, but everyone else raved about their food. It was a fun morning spent with Jon. Then, back home we went. We stopped at the Outlets in Gilroy to get some New Balance Tennis shoes for Oliven and me. We grabbed some groceries at Trader Joes in Morgan Hill, then ordered Chinese Food from Golden House and ate it by the light of the menorah for the 5th night of Hanukkah


Monday, December 19, 2016

Other highlights

My bunco party was a blast and my December Cookbook club: King Arthur Flour was a delight. Polly's Gingerbread decorating party is always a favorite. Justin got to build a train this year, which he really enjoyed. The same day both boys went to birthday parties and Oliven had a piano lesson. It was a very busy day. Oliven and Vander each got to do a Teacher Treat recently. Oliven's was a hike with his teacher and Vander's was a Dia De Los Muertos movie with snacks. They both had a good time.

Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs

 The 7th and 8th graders performed their updated version of Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs and they did a really great job. I am shocked and amazed that it went so well. Every single one of them really got into their character. It was fun to see all the hard work (mostly mine and Katie's - Snow White). Katie is an amazing girl who is going to go very far in life. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age.
 Overall, it was a great production with awesome scenery and a cute script that had some very funny parts. Everyone I talked to said that they enjoyed it very much, which makes me really happy. Some people came to the night performance after seeing the day performance because they enjoyed it so much the first time.
 I had the kids choose the story they wanted, write the script, make all the scenery and props, and then act, sing, play keyboard, and do the lighting and backstage work. It was very difficult to the get the cooperation of the 11 out of 13 kids that didn't want drama to do all of it, but in the end I hope that they are glad that they did. My first time as a director all the way through from beginning to end and it was a success.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cookie making and decorating

We had our annual cookie making and decorating get together. It was a delight as always. This year Camille joined us as well for the fun. In the evening was our annual block party with food and caroling at Christi's house. :)

1st and 3rd grade Christmas in the park holiday carols

  This year my goal as the music teacher is to make sure that every kid gets to perform. This excludes the 7th and 8th grade students not in my classes since I don't have any time with them, but includes every kid kindergarten - 6th grade. My first big performance this year was with the 1st and 3rd grade students singing holiday carols. First they sang for an assembly and the second performance was at Christmas in the park. They did such a great job. As a bonus those happened to be the grades that both of my children are in this year, so they both got to perform on stage at Christmas in the Park. It was really fun, super crazy, and they did a great job. All the kids are really proud of themselves. 8 of the 3rd grade students got to have solos. Vander was one of them - not because he is my kid, but because he was one of the best boys that auditioned. All the kids did an excellent job. I am really proud of all the 3rd graders who had the guts to go up in front of those huge crowds and sing solos. The 1st graders were super cute with the red noses that Carrie bought for all of them for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". A shout out to Carrie Lim for being my right hand woman and doing everything that I couldn't and for organizing the parents and supplies!

crazy meal


Our favorite meal of the year - CRAZY MEAL - was last week. It is always entertaining. It is not at all the most delicious, but it's so darn fun. This year we ended up with:
Justin: coconut shrimp; Ashley: hint of lime chips, refried beans, and a red onion; Vander: a frozen pizza; Oliven: grapes, two tomatoes, an  apple, and a carrot. So, our final meal was chips dipped in a very interesting bean dip made with: beans, sauteed apple, carrot and onion, and tomatoes. This mix was accompanied by pizza, shrimp and grapes. It was an oddly sweet dip, not surprisingly.
  Recently we have been watching "Chopped Junior" where the kids get random ingredients and have to make an appetizer, main dish, or dessert out of them. So, when we had our ingredients in the car the kids kept saying things like, "from the pantry I would grab... and then deep fry..." We had to explain that this was crazy meal where you use what you get to make something delicious, or at least edible, but no pantry ingredients and no deep fat fryer. It was fun as always with our living room picnic, watching "Chopped" this year as we enjoyed our eclectic meal.

Monday, December 5, 2016

advent 2016

Completely out of order, here is our advent list for 2016:

            ·         Dinner with the Lim family at Sweet Tomatoes
·         Dinner with the Rogerson family at our house
·         Breakfast with Santa
·         Decorate outside lights
·         Crazy meal
·         Write a Christmas story
·         Holiday dance party
·         Gingerbread houses at Polly’s
·         Holiday movie as a family
·         Christmas in the park
·         Make sugar cookies
·         Living room picnic and a show
·         Hot apple cider   ///   Holiday lights drive and candy canes
·         Decorate cookies
·         Grammy & Pops visit
·         Holiday themed meal
·         Vander’s choice game night
·         Oliven’s choice game night
·         Put train together
·         Go to Grand House
·         Hang out with cousins
·         Candle light dinner
·         Holiday lights walk
·         Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
·         Watch Garfield Christmas
·         Holiday block party

Sunday, December 4, 2016

piano recital

 Oliven and I have both been taking piano lessons since this summer. Ollie is a natural. He loves to play, he has a love of music and he gets the theory quickly and easily. He has to work on his counting, but the notes come very naturally to him as does reading music. He plays the songs and memorizes them with ease. It's truly a delight to listen to him play.
  Playing piano doesn't come to me as naturally. I am better at counting, but I have to concentrate on the notes, where they are, which finger, and how to read them. I then have to make notes in the music and practice the same thing over and over. It really is mentally challenging for me. Learning to have both hands doing different things on notes and counting is not easy.
  Our first recital was in November and Oliven rocked it. I was super nervous and totally messed up several times. I have never been that nervous singing. I think being a beginner as an adult made it more stressful with my own expectations.