Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

We started our Christmas week with a stroll down one of the nicely lit streets on the Peninsula. The word 'decorated' doesn't even describe these homes... maybe the name "Griswald's" does! Most of the homes are beautiful but there are some owners that just stuck everything they could outside on the lawn;-)

During the 6-week show, this owner spends $4000 on his home and the adjoining home, also of which he owns.

On Christmas Eve, we co-hosted an evening dinner, complete with turkey, trimmings, and tiramasu. We met a new couple that our friends had brought with them. The six of us had a wonderful evening and Russell was a saint, playing on the floor quietly with his toys. Yeah!!
The next morning...

On Christmas morning, we (yes, us) opened Russell's gifts. Maybe next year he'll comprehend all the unopened gifts. Andrea had his name in the 'name draw' and gave him two Fisher Price trucks:-) Dan's parents had sent the FP airplane, so the set was complete! I was surprised to see that the toys came complete with batteries.

Russell and his gifts: three new Thomas trains, three Matchbox airplanes, and the FP toys. (Not shown: Russell's huge Thomas the Train play-house. See video below...)

Finally, it was our turn:-) I received much needed shoes and Dan bought me a gorgeous coat. Dan used the money sent by parents/grandma to buy something for his computer...

After opening our gifts, we headed out to Lodi to visit Dan's cousins. Maria had her family in town so there were 9 adults and 4 children (aged 1-3). It was a full household but we were so grateful to our cousins to open their hearts and home to us. Russell loved the little tree and the red chair...

We stayed overnight in a hotel and enjoyed the next morning with Jon and Maria. After lunch, we headed home and back to our little place.

Since we didn't leave town this year, it was a nice and restful break. Dan starts his new job in two weeks and he needed a quiet vacation. We antipicipate the New Year and all the adventures ahead with a 2-yr-old little boy! Hope your holidays were enjoyable and that you have more memories to smile over:-)

Christmas Home Video 2007

View this montage created at One True Media
Christmas 2007

This is a 6 minute video of our Christmas morning. You can scroll through the 'time bar' to fast-forward the video. Included: Russell opening his toys from Andrea, his grandparents, and playing in the used wrapping paper.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Prepping for Christmas

Dan and Russell- wires and more wires!

Even in 37F temperatures, this boy needs his walk.

We opened Russell's present from Aunt Bev and Uncle Kurt early! Russell loves skipping on it. He will learn to jump on it eventually.

I remade the Chewy Molasses Cookies after I realized that the recipe read '1/2 sticks of butter' and not '1/2 cups of butter.' Oops. It is a wonder I have a chemistry degree! I knew Martha couldn't let me down. I also made the two Swedish Tea Rings:-) I started baking them annually in high-school but I haven't in the last few years, so it is nice to be back in the baking game. I don't bake bread except for the rare occasion.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Signs of the Season

Here is a list of some 'Signs of the Christmas Season' that I've noticed:

1. Vastly overstocking of celery, yams, and potatoes in Safeway.
2. The UPS driver towing a U-Haul with his UPS truck.
3. The FedEx driver driving a Budget rental truck.
4. A small-ish tree missing from the park (yes, the stump is still there!). Someone is a little cheap and dishonest!
5. No parking spaces at the post office.
6. Hearing the same Christmas song on the radio more than three times in one day.
7. Receiving many anticipated cards/letters/pictures from friends and family.
8. The empty rack of egg-nog in the grocery store.

There is so much to notice in everyday life:-) All it takes is a little observation!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 Cookie Disaster

Last year, I made MS' Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies and they turned out perfectly- good enough to share with my neighbor. Now, for the second time this month, these cookies have flopped- literally. I even tried refrigerating the dough before baking. Obviously, that was no help. Although I am disappointed, I have two men in my life that will not be. Russell kept circling the cookies and saying, "Eat! Eat!" And Dan always likes something to snack on at coffee time. I'll try making this recipe once more before Christmas morning, and if it sinks again, that is that. I'll use less butter, I guess...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pre-Christmas in San Diego

On Friday afternoon, I flew down to SD by myself (and 129 other lucky Southwest passengers). It was the first time in two years since I've flow without Russell (we flew 6 times in his first year of life, plus our trips this past year). All I can say is that flying with out baby-gear and with only a carry-on is a picnic. I stayed with April for the first night, and the second night, we stayed in the Hotel del Coronado. Above: April at the new NTC station on Point Loma...

Christmas in San Diego- just perfect.

We checked into the Del about 4:30pm. They had an ice rink set up between the hotel and the beach. There were surfers in the oceans and skaters on the ice.

Sun setting with two fighter planes in the foreground...

Point Loma in the background. Our old home.

At 6pm, our friend Dinorah and her family came for a drop-by. I used to work for Dinorah in property management when we first moved to San Diego. Little Noah was born the month of our wedding. I used to rock him to sleep- now, he is a busy 5-yr-old boy.

We enjoyed a nice dinner with our friend Julie, who also stayed the night with us. I haven't seen Julie in almost 3 years and it was nice to catch up.

A picture perfect goodbye.

I returned to SF on Sunday afternoon:-) Dan is/was the best husband ever to encourage me to take a weekend 'off' and he would stay home with Russell. Russell did just fine without me and cried the next morning (Monday) when he realized Dan had gone to work. I'm not much for spas and manicures, but a weekend in SD will do wonders!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Questions

I stole this from Alysun's blog. I liked it that much;-)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Fake. It is 3 feet tall and has fiber-optic lights.

3. When do you put up the tree?
After my Dec. 1st birthday.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Around New Years

5. Do you like egg nog?
No. I don’t like the consistency but will have a little in coffee.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
“The Heart Family” (Barbie knock-off) playground. I still have it at my parents’ house.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, the ‘Willow Tree’ set. It was a wedding gift.

8. Hardest person to buy for?

9. Easiest person to buy for?
Myself- why is that?!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. I don’t like e-mail cards- I guess I’m old fashioned. I like to have cards to keep.

11 . Worst Christmas gift you ever received????
Don’t remember.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Serendipity (I know it is not an official Christmas movie, but I like the winter scenes.) Maybe it is the ‘magic’ of the movie.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
November- I like to have the gifts to Canada posted by the first week of December.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
If I have, I don’t remember.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Martha Stewart’s Cranberry Walnut Stuffing.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Colored fiber-optic (no wires!!)

17. Favorite Christmas song?
“Mary Did You Know?”

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
This year, staying home. It is getting more expensive to fly now that we have to pay for three seats.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?
No- but I did learn that Santa’s reindeer must be female because the male reindeers lose their antlers in the autumn, and the female’s have theirs until January.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Star- it is pegged on the top.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning! Dan opened presents as a child on the Eve and he said the next day “there was nothing to do.”

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Big credit card bills.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

24. Favorite part of Christmas dinner?
MS’ Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing, the turkey, and mashed sweet potatoes.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Great memories.

26. Gift Cards. Yes, I like them, or No, too impersonal?
No problem here, just Dan has to find something personal. Poor guy;-)

27. If yes, where from? If No, best place to shop for your present?
Macy’s or Williams-Sonoma.28. Any plans for New Years? No plans.

A Day in the City

Notice anything (well, anyone) missing? We left Russell at his friend Owen's house for a few hours and went into the city for lunch and a fun afternoon. I think the city is more enjoyable in the fall when the skies are clear from fog and the majority of tourists have returned home. The streets definitely were "hustling and bustling" but without a stroller and child, it was a picnic. It has been three years since we landed in this foreign city and we like it more as we get familiar with it. This is the tree in Union Square... (try counting the total number of individual Christmas trees on this posting)...

And Macy's- what a wonderful store! The Cheesecake Factory is on the top floor and we enjoyed every bite of lunch and Dan even managed a piece of cheesecake. We had a nice time talking and not rushing our meal.

We took a Christmas-decorated cable car over to Fisherman's Wharf. It was almost deserted.

The tree at Fisherman's Wharf.

White? Snow? No. Just bird dung. This is the only 'white' you'll see around here!!

Crab nets, just resting on the docks. Obviously, the crab-fishermen are resting, too.

The afternoon sun setting on Alcatraz.

True to his Navy roots, we found a submarine- probably the only one- in 500 miles;-) It was in use from 1943-1945. It had 75 men on it at one time but the poster board didn't show any berths. If we had taken the tour, maybe we would have seen them? Even the sub had a Christmas tree...

Did you count the number of individual Christmas trees? There are four!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Food for Thought

I began this morning by making Russell's toast, as usual. He says "toast" and points to the bread and toaster:-) After sitting down with him to eat, I noticed Dan's (men's) vitamin bottle said, "Before consuming, consult doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding." What a consultation that would be!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One Size Fits All... or not!

Yeah- what a fun birthday! Dan took Saturday off from work and we enjoyed my birthday as a family. He brought me my cards and gifts when I woke up and then we had breakfast. One of Dan's gifts to me was a much needed apron. He bought a Martha Stewart apron from Macy's:-) On the tag, it says, "One size fits all." When I put it on, the hem almost reached my ankles and the back overlaps at the waist. I wonder who was the model for the pattern since most women are not 6'4". I've since tied up the neck and fold over the waist ties when I wear it. I love it, though, and it is hard to misplace in the house!

The evening of the 1st was Dan's work's Christmas party. We dressed up and went to Palo Alto. I loved every minute of the evening. Our friends, Lisa and Scott, babysat with their son, Jack. The weather was cold and crisp and the parking was free;-) We enjoyed a delicious dinner (Dan had rib-eye steak, I had the salmon) and friendly company (Dan's boss's wife {Diane} and I know each other and we sat together). I was surprised later in the evening when the waiter brought out an individual sized cake for my birthday- complete with a candle. Thankfully, no-one stood a table and/or sang;-) We saved the cake for the next day since dessert had already been served. We didn't think to take our camera with us, and so no pictures exist. Maybe we should get a camera-phone.

Thanks to Lisa for these pictures; our two 'Thomas the Train' boys. As you might notice in both pictures, Russell has snagged Jack's stuffed doggie. They later fought it out;-)

Dan's time at his current job is coming to a close. For privacy reasons, I don't want to write about his new job on this blog, but will send out a e-mail at a later time. He starts January 7th. It would be an ideal time to take a few weeks off and just travel but with Russell and limited funds, reality wins and off to work he goes. Thank-you to all who have prayed for direction concerning Dan's job.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Yesterday, Dan had to work, but Russell and I were invited to join a family from church and their guests for a Thanksgiving meal. It was a wonderful meal and the fellowship was just as filling. Russell had a nap after lunch and I was so proud of him and his behavior:-) He played nicely with his cars and kept telling the sleeping dog, "Shhh... Nigh, Nigh."

Today was the first day of Dan's days off so I took full advantage of the childcare and for the first time, was at Target at 6:20am. Dan even said, "I should take a picture of this." (Spoken by a man whose wife makes his lunch at 5:30am in a 'silent fog'.)

It was 37F and the car registered 'ICY' in the temperature gauge. As I headed to the electronics section in Target, the dim got louder and the crowd got larger. Thankfully, the items I wanted were (for some reason) stored at the customer service desk at the front of the store so I left and purchased the items away from the crowd. The three items I wanted were still in stock (but were gone by 7am). I bought the items and finished shopping for other items. So that was that!

Dan turned on the furnace this afternoon and so begins the increased winter energy bills. The front room warms up nicely with the morning sun but the back bedrooms get cold, Russell's room especially. He has a little oil furnace but it drains electricity. I was thinking about the 'olden days' of Laura Ingalls and the tales of ice in their wash basins. I know we have a lot to be thankful for!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Dose of Reality

To me, the official start of Christmas shopping has begun. I refuse to do any shopping before Remembrance Day out of honor for the past and current troops. I like the emphasis Canadians have on November 11th, with the wearing of the red poppy and the cenotaphs that are decorated every year. I’m not sure if it is just the location we are living in or the fact that Dan is no longer in the military, but the focus isn’t as clear here. Perhaps, too, it is the changing of the times, as commercialism gets more aggressive each year. As one man said, “America isn’t at war. The Marines are at war. Americans are at the mall.” I know our grandparents went through so much more with war rations, food stamps, and other sacrifices. Many thanks to them.

The VA hospital in Palo Alto is the headquarters for severe trauma in the Pacific region. One man at our church has stepped up to head a ministry to the soldiers coming home from Iraq. The hospital welcomes baked goods and other practical ways of encouragement to the troops (i.e. Bibles, sport-event tickets, phone cards) and also articles to be sent oversees (Bibles, toiletry items, basic socks/underwear, phone cards, etc.). I have never been down to the hospital but I think it would be good to go. I need a dose of reality. To be honest, I don’t even watch the nightly news reports because it gets ‘old.’ How is that for patriotism?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Quiet Saturday

Well, Dan is working today. It is raining. And we have nothing to do. I could almost be bored but there are always dishes to wash, things to put away, or as Russell has decided, toys to organize. I hope he keeps his room this orderly in the future!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Community- As Christ Intended

I love listening to Dr. David Jeremiah each morning at 10am on the local Christian station or on if I miss the timeslot.

Lately, Dr. Jeremiah has been going through a series called, “The Signs of Life.” Today’s message was called ‘Outstretched Arms: Living a Life of Community.’ The following are the five points outlined in this sermon;

1) Community requires unity
2) Community reacts with sympathy
3) Community responds like family
4) Community reaches out in sincerity
5) Community reinforces humility

As Dr. Jeremiah spoke, ‘community’ was the term he used to communicate the relationship we have with each other, especially as Believers.

“Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:2

I wish I could remember every point that he noted but one point stood out to me. He said that God allows heartbreak into our lives so that we may have true sympathy for those that hurt as well. To be totally honest, before this year, I didn’t always have the understanding of deep heartbreak to sympathize with friends and loved ones. The loss of life includes the loss of dreams and the loss of ‘what might have been.’ We were not created to be stoic, hardened humans. Jesus wept. And so should we. “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Ps. 30.5)

The other point I liked was Dr. J’s note about small groups. The original Church was composed of small groups and how most of today’s churches have encouraged the growth of them. Dr. Jeremiah said that to most people, their small group was as close to anyone they would ever get. The group is to grow in unity and sincerity- two things severely lacking in today’s culture, even in the Church. I know I struggle with understanding those that think differently than me and I also need to let my “yes’s be yes’s and my no’s be no’s.”

We only have 61 days left in 2007. My prayer for Dan and myself in the coming months and years would be that no matter where we live, that we would have true community with other Believers in unity, sympathy, sincerity, and humility, acting as family should.

Our New Car

So, what do you think? Of course, this is NOT our new car. We don't need another bill to pay;-) Besides, where would we put Russell's Pack N'Play, stroller, toys, and the million other items needed for road trips? This car was parked outside our place this morning and Dan grabbed the camera to take a picture. It is call the Zap! car ( Based in Santa Rosa, California, the website proudly displays the current price of oil ($95/barrel). We later saw the car being hauled away on a UHaul by the supposed owner- either that, or an elaborate way to steal a car. I guess it still isn't allowed on the freeways! With only three wheels, I can't see it being too safe at high speeds.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just Another Day in Paradise (oops, I mean, the Park)...

Yup. One more morning. One more day. Dan and I figure if we have been going to the park each day since Russell was three months old (when we bought the jogging stroller), at five times a week (usually 6-7, though), it has been a minimum of 360 times. Not bad for a little boy who is now 21 months old;-) When it rained two weeks ago, we even bought the rain hood that keeps the child dry, although not the parent, who is soaking wet by the time all is said and done.

Russell is The Regular. Each morning, either myself or Dan (depending on work schedules and if I can muster myself to the gym) will change Russell's diaper after breakfast, dress him for the park, help put on shoes and a coat, and set up the stroller. Then, with water bottle in tow, set off for the park. It takes about 5-7 minutes to get there. There usually is the 'regulars' that after 18 months, now know Russell by name although they don't care who we (the parents) are;-). They try and encourage a wave or 'hello' from him but usually are only rewarded by a shy smile.

So, tomorrow when you call and the answering machine picks up between 7:30am and 9am, you'll know where we are!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life Lately

As you can tell from my lack of blogging, it has been quiet (well, not literally, as Russell can get quite loud). We've been watching the footage from the SoCal wildfires and we were remembering the fires of 2003. Dan was deployed at the time and my friend Laura had just left visiting me in San Diego. I remember the freeways being empty, stores closed, and the smoke that permeated every house- even with the doors and windows shut. I suppose these fires have been routine for hundreds of years but with the millions of homes now infringing on the wildernesses, it is now a fight against nature.

Dan has been called for jury duty. Depending on whether or not he can prove financial hardship (he has to report back on Monday), he may have to serve. He said the accused doesn't even speak English and the guy would most likely spend the rest of his life in prison if he was lucky. We were talking about it last night... what sets apart a judge and the accused? In some minute way, the scenario mimics our relationship to God. The vastness between us is too immense to fathom.

Next week is Halloween and we've been invited to a party on Saturday night. So, now we have to find/make costumes. I found a giraffe costume at the GoodWill for Russell but nothing for us so far. I wish I was more creative. It would be fun to go with 'coupled' costumes. I love parties and although we don't like the World's take on Halloween, costumes and kids and candy go hand-in-hand.

For now...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Slumber Party!!

On Sunday morning, both ladies for whom I had co-hosted baby showers (Julie and Natasha) went into labor. Julie had her baby later that night, and Natasha had her baby late this morning (Monday). Julie was four days late and Tash was three weeks early. Anyway, we were honored to take care of Beckett, Tash's little boy, for Sunday night and Monday. We had a lot of fun and I was blessed by good nap-times;-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

"TAB"- Taking a Break

On BabyCenter, one of my most visited websites, TTC means 'trying to conceive', TTK means 'trying to keep' and TAB means 'taking a break.' Almost like the Navy with all the acronyms used. I saw my OB/GYN yesterday and with exception of one concern, the rest of the test results are normal (yeah for no clotting or autoimmune!). The doctor is going to talk to a hemotoligist about a gene abnormality. If all is okay, we'll wait until next year before trying again, and using progesterone to help the embryo stick. Thanks for all your love and prayers:-)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Home Sweet Home (Almost)

Bright and early on Saturday morning, we flew to San Diego for a four day vacation. "He's so cute," is something we hear often, but not on that flight to SD! I think it was too early for Russell. Since we used to live in SD, we wanted to enjoy our old haunts and taste some real Carne Asada burritos from our favorite vendors. We stayed at The Dana in Mission Beach and we loved it.

Russell finally warmed up to the idea of the pool and he hung out on the first step:-) We are so proud of him!

Mission Beach...

On Sunday afternoon, we went to the far end of Mission Beach to let Russell play on the playground. He liked the slide but then just wanted to walk/run on the boardwalk. The only problem was the cyclists and rollerbladers. Every time one passed, we had to pick Russell up and he'd have a fit. Not fun.

This is just outside Dan's old apartment in MB. Oh, if we could live there!

Even Big R needed a break and he liked to sit on the 'ledge' the lawn provided.

Balboa Park...

On Monday, we went to Balboa park. We lucked out at the History Museum and was able to see the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit for free since we participated in an early-morning fire drill (God's timing!). Since it was $24/adult, this was a blessing because we couldn't take Russell in the museum. He'd rush thru and whine/cry if we didn't follow him, so we alternated and each spent 30 minutes (we could have spent 2 hrs) inside. (At this point, you might have realized that Russell was spending NO time in his stroller. He fought it every time we tried so we gave up.)

The rose garden... and our son running away as fast as possible. He wouldn't even turn around to see if we were following!

The romantic fountain where Dan proposed to me in June 2002:-)

Considering it was vacation, Big R got his own chocolate chip cookie for snack time.


On Monday night, I left Dan and Russell for a few hours and spent time with my dear friend, April. We ate at 1134 on Coronado and then went walking down the beach. Later, we went to watch the skyline at the ferry dock. Sounds like the perfect date to me!!! I love Coronado....

Point Loma...

On Tuesday morning, we drove up to Cabrillo Monument on Point Loma. We could see the SubBase of Dan's yesteryear. We even saw a sub coming in...

Big R taking another break after running up and down this incline...

Back to Coronado...

The next morning, Dan and Russell and I went back to the Island to walk around the Hotel Del. They've expanded the hotel and taken up more beach space but it looks great anyway. You can imagine how much two ice-creams cost, but how often do we go to the Del???

Wednesday morning we went back to the MB boardwalk for one last time. Russell loved to just go and go and go.
It was the ideal way to spend our 5th anniversary celebration since we both like San Diego. The real estate is cheaper there and we could actually afford something on Point Loma (our ideal living location). We picked up some flyers to see. I love the sunny, (mostly) warm weather and minimal/nominal rain fall. Also, we'd eliminate the need to fly to Arizona to see Dan's parents. Hmm. We've settled into our life here in the Bay area, so for now, I'll just take advantage of Southwest's new service from SFO into SAN and stay at April's home:-)

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