Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas in a local way

This year has been a lot of firsts for us- and a lot of change. Moving thirty miles south shouldn't seem like a semi-earthquake to our lives but in reality, it's definitely been a 7.0. Change is not easy and for some, it's just the hardest thing to endure. It's been a difficult year adjusting to the distance of longtime friends and the ending of potential friendships. So, to say that we get to stay home this year and just do nothing for Christmas is really quite fine:-) We'll celebrate in a local way, and as Dan says, make our own memories to savour upon in the coming years.

Tradition #1- Russell's school 'holiday' sing along (shame- no 'Christmas'... it's a public school...). He's near the front left in his black puffer coat. Do you see him? No worries, I didn't either until the end.

"Mom, I wanted you to come and be here... Not to take pictures..."
Ha. Guess who got a picture after all!

Then today, we hosted our 'first annual' cookie exchange with several of the moms/children from Russell's K class. Seven 5/6-year old boys + younger siblings= craziness and a wonderful time!

... and Little Sis, who just seems on some days to be older than she really is. I love these children.

Blessings to you and whether you spend time travelling or staying home, may it be a time of fellowship with those around you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Party All Night Long! (well, at least 'til 8pm)

On Saturday night, we attended our first block Christmas party- complete with many appetizers, drinks, a full dinner, desserts, and some nice conversation... Our party on Sunday night was a little bit different. With eight adults and seven children (Russell being the oldest), we took it a little easier. The four couples (minus one couple who couldn't come) were our original Bible study/care group back B.C. (before children). Everyone seemed to have a great time and since it was pot-luck style, it was easy to host!!

**Russell was in his non-photographic mood**

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Awkward Stage:-)

Week 25 vs. Week 33 (now).
Besides the normal aches and pains of pregnancy, I'd say this is a 'good thing' that God thought up!

(PS- the neighbor beside us decided to cut back the trees on the fence line in preparation to sell the house... I LOVE the winter sunlight! Our bedroom is so bright now during the day.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If You're Planning on Shopping this Christmas season...

... don't spend so much that you... 1) hate January because the credit card bills are too high, 2) spend what you don't have, and 3) regret purchases later, when the recipt is long gone and the season is over. (Where would we be in life without Dave Ramsey to set us straight?)

Dan and I are not thoughtful gift givers to be honest. In the 'old' days before children, we would spend our birthday/Christmas/anniversary money on weekends away to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara or such (when we used to live in San Diego). I still remember those trips fondly but to be honest, I can't remember what Dan bought me for Christmas last year- and visa versa. At least we can laugh over it together. This year, I think cans of paint would be great, though!

I'm an online shopper kinda girl. is my default go-to site but even then I Google my desired purchase before clicking 'submit' one last time.

If you want to get cash-back dollars, try sites like:

(These links use my referral codes.) I don't favor one over the other... just whatever one gives me more cash back per site. I get cash back from airfare, daily-deal sites (Groupon, Zulily), and Gap/Old Navy. They still don't have Gymboree but someday;-)
The other sites I check (American) are feed into my Facebook fed for B&M deals, online deals, and coupons (of course!)...
I really hope to all friends and family and others that come by this site, that this Christmas season really is a season of good food and gifts but moreso cherishing and celebrating those in our lives.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Middle of November

We're half way through November already. American Thanksgiving is next week... it still is strange to be celebrating so late in the year- and so close to Christmas. Although we could have made arrangements to drive up to Sacramento for a 'family' Thanksgiving with Dan's cousin and his family, we just don't have the 'umph' this year. Camille is not a road-trip kinda gal and turning a 2.5 hr trip into a 3-4 hr trip (due to stops) is ridiculous. Add traffic on top of that and we're happy to microwave some turkey leftovers and gobble down some pumpkin cheesecake in the warmth of our own home.

Christmas 2010
Christmas will be calm for us as well. I'll be 37 weeks (full term) pregnant on December 25th so I'm not putting too much effort into baking and decorating... the latter I can leave to Russell and Dan and the Christmas-light aisle at Home Depot. The boys both have two weeks off during the Christmas season so it will give them something to do;-) But- I LOVE reading and looking at the seasonal magazines. New ways to prepare side dishes, stuffing, and drinks... but mostly- desserts. I'm a sap for any recipe with cream cheese and/or chocolate. Call it a Christmas treat and it becomes a new favorite. I suppose the saving grace this season is the fact that I'm at the stage of pregnancy where my internal organs are jammed up into my lungs, making eating large portions a rather uncomfortable obstacle;-)

Next celebration? Birthday #32... no longer near 30 and onwards to 35. Gotta love these birthdays!

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Wrap-Up

Like a typical month, October's calendar started out quite empty and quiet, only to finish at full speed. We celebrated friends' children's birthdays early in the month, then celebrated our own little 2-yr-old on the 22nd...

 Red velvet cupcakes for the children and lemon-gingersnap cheesecake for the adults. Delicious as ever!!

 Yes, Camille was anxious to blow out her own two candles, and she succeeded!

 In her words, "Cake. Yummy. Good!"

 The teaset we bought for her. She's loved it ever since:-)

 The next day was Sunday, and once the children had rested in the afternoon, we drove over to Natural Bridges State Beach for some weekend sand time. The monarc butterflies are actually migrating through the area currently as well, but the kiddos didn't have the patience for walking amongst the milkweed. Perhaps next year.

Finally, Halloween! My Captain Hook (minus the eye patch and hook- I don't understand him sometimes!) at the school parade...

 ... and Tinker Bell...

So, another month has come and gone. It will be November tomorrow. Again, the calendar is calm and quiet and I'll just enjoy that for now. American Thanksgiving, here we come!!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

100 days... but who's counting?

Summer came to a crashing halt this past week as the temperatures dropped from a balmy 90F to a wet and windy 58F... a few inches of rain included. It's a little early for rain but in true California form, next week should be sunny and back into the 70F's.

My parents were here in mid-September to visit. A week sped by quickly. With Russell in school, we weren't able to do many adventures but we did get a chance to go apple-picking on the coast. The weather was autumn-perfect and Russell and Camille had a blast...

Our family seems to have finally found a new routine surrounding Russell and his school hours. Camille's nap is a little sooner, Tuesday afternoons are swim lessons for Russell, homework is done after supper, learning-to-read lessons are done after breakfast, and play-dates with friends only on Fridays. A lot of my struggles could be made easier if we had chosen to home-school but when I see Russell interact so positively with his classmates and teacher, I'm assured that we are doing the best for him for now. He was just so bored at home over the summer and it drove both of us crazy.

October promises a handful of friends' children's birthday parties and that includes one for Camille- who personally believes she is really for kindergartan like Russell is. When she eyes the glue sticks, markers, papers and crafts in Russell's class each day, I have to fight her to put her back in the stroller. She is talking in singular words and a few short phrases- enough that for better or worse, we understand most of what she says;-) She loves drawing/coloring and finally has grasped the concept of 'only on paper' instead of my walls, furninture and the wood floors.

... And according to my ticker above, only 100 days left until Little Brother is due! My dry heartburn has shown up a lot sooner but I don't have the carpel tunnel (claw hands) this time like my other pregnancies. Hallelujah. My thyroid meds are being monitored a lot closer, and for this reason, the carpel tunnel has stayed away as of yet. Little Brother gives healthy kicks- mostly at night or when I'm resting, and the newness of it all still has not worn off. Although pregnancy is difficult on a woman's body, I am so overjoyed to experience it once again. With the autumn and winter weeks ahead (April's wedding in San Diego, Halloween, American Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Years), these 100 days will be gone in a blink!

Thanks for checking in despite the rare posts:-) I love reading all your updates!

Friday, August 26, 2011



I had my 20-week anatomy ultrasound today and both technicians confirmed independently that Baby #3 is indeed Boy #2!! For the simple fact that there have been no brothers (two or more boys) in either set of our family lineage for the last two generations, I am really excited for the coming years when Russell and Baby Boy will have that bond. They will be six years apart (to the month) so that friendship probably won't form until later in youth or beyond but nevertheless:-)

In typical boy fashion- for our family anyway, Little Brother had his hand and arm over his face so the technician couldn't take the proper pictures and measurements needed. My 45 minute appointment turned into a 90 minute appointment because the baby wouldn't turn or move to the right positions needed. Sigh. I've paid photographers to catch the simplest smile from Russell- and failed, and here it seems that Little Brother will follow in his footsteps.

It's all in the family!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

His first of "First Days of School"

The future grad class of 2024 started Kindergarten classes this past week... including Russell. He was most enthused at first and although we've had a few moments of near-tears, the week has gone quite well.

We're so proud of him and his new journey into this chapter of life. His babyhood is long gone and his boyhood is in full swing. Here's to new challenges and new accomplishments!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fingerprint of God

I've been silent about our secret for a few months now but I am ready to tell you since we just told our families. We're pregnant again. I'm fifteen weeks today and the due date is January 15th, 2012.

This time around, I didn't call my OB for the initial bloodwork. He had prescribed me the two drugs I took during Camille's pregnancy and if these didn't work again, there was really nothing else he could do for me. I started taking the drugs in April and will continue the Lovenox for the duration of the pregnancy- my OB said it was up to me if I wanted to do so or not.

My first appointment was in early June. For those that have seen their child's heartbeat on an ultrasound machine, you might understand how I felt, but perhaps only those that have experience loss will understand the amazement of it. So often, I've only seen an empty sac or just nothing. On that day, I saw the fingerprint of God in that little heartbeat. Life. So fragile. So fleeting. So precious. I don't understand the miracle of cells forming to create a heart... and then start beating to create sustained life but God does- and for Him to be in control of that is greater than anything man could ever create or invent.

I know that pregnancy is a possibility and not a promise of things to come but each day is one day closer to having Baby #3 join our family.

And yes... we will be finding out the gender:-)

Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God's hand and perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He's been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living, breathing
Priceless work of art

-Steven Curtis Chapman

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A sign of hope

The last few months of attempted gardening have ended, well... not so well. The tomato seeds I planted drowned in the rains of the spring and the strawberry plants had their green berries and leaves (!!) eaten by the neighbor's squirrel population. I did manage to get a net put up so we did get a few berries but what the squirrels didn't eat, mostly rotted in the soil- oops. My bad.

At the same time that I bought the strawberry plants, I also bought two small tomato plants. I planted them in my sunniest location and let them be with exception of random waterings (it was a wet spring). I actually took notice of them about a month ago when they suddenly seemed to kick into high gear and green tomatoes started to grow. Russell is holding our first, fully rippened fruit. We had it in our salad tonight and it was sweet and tangy. So long, Safeway tomatoes!

I think I'll plant more tomato plants next spring but one tomato doesn't prove I have a green thumb. The squirrels have eaten some of the tomato leaves but hopefully the net will discourage any other attempts. I'll try harder with the strawberries next spring but overall, I'll stick with hardy plants that can handle the summer heat and don't die- at least, too easily!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Weekend of Summer

To those celebrating the 144th Canada Day north of the 49th and those celebrating 235th Independence Day south of the 49th, I hope you have as much fun as our little dual-citizen will have! Remember those that have fought for our countries and those that continue to fight- especially in the Middle East and North Africa. We are so blessed to have the freedoms and peace that we do.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Last month...

 Dan's birthday was the 17th but we celebrated in the weekend... with eight adults and ten kids under the age of five. Roasted-garlic mashed potatoes, BBQ'd chicken, baked beans, and carrot cake for dessert. Yum!

 Memorial Day weekend (the 29/30th) we went up to Sacramento to visit Dan's cousins and their kids. Camille felt right at home with the 'big' girls (ages 4 & 2).

 My first strawberry that dared to try and rippen despite the cool weather... only to succomb to the neighbor's squirrels (he feeds the mangy animals.. grr). I now have netting covering the plants. The kids love to watch the plants grow and change.

 Morning snuggles on the couch. Russell sets up his 'bed' and Camille promptly crawls up and plops herself in the middle. She will really miss him when he's off to kindergartan in August:-(

Yummy, fresh strawberries from the local vendor (day laborer) who stops by every three weeks or so. The berries are local and haven't spent anytime under grow-lights or in store coolers. Just right to my door- and children's bellies. I love this!

Hopefully, I'll get some more pictures up for June as the month progresses. It's been quiet and somewhat lonely around here. The kids keep me busy but they don't fill the space of 'friendship' that I yearn for. I suppose I'm struggling with the fact of busyness in other's lives... Community is so difficult to grow and yet so easy to let die.

Russell and Dan have their first (of three) camping trips later this week. It will be me and Little Sis for 48hrs... just enough time for lots of book reading and playing with her on her level. Good times!!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Celebrating Spring

It's been a cool spring so far and not very inspiring to be outside for long periods of time unless in the late afternoon when it warms up. I bought a pair of hedge trimmers/shears and Russell loves when I take a few minutes to trim tree branches or the ivy on the back fence or any other rouge plant that dares cross the fence line. This past weekend, we finally attacked the front planter that runs along the front of the house. It was overgrown with dead fern bushes...
(picture from February when we re-roofed)
Before and After...

We even found a few ceramic critters buried in the dirt (minus the goose)... a frog, turtle, and coiled up snake...

Russell was such a help. The minute we cleared some foliage, he ran it to the street to add to our yard-clipping pile. The city actually has this amazing vehicle that scoops with pinchers and disposes of the piles into a secondary vehicle. Each Monday, there are piles all over the city like this...

... and my beloved California poppies. In the fall, I hope to get a few different varieties of other poppies and plant them so next spring will be even more beautiful. The plants take care of themselves- the type of plant I enjoy:-)
Happy Spring!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Half Birthday, Baby Sis

Today is Camille's 1 1/2 year birthday. We never celebrated half birthdays as children but a friend of mine's birthday is today and so when Camille was born, Julie mentioned that Camille was born on her half-birthday (since October and April are six months apart...). Since then, it's a fun reminder for each family. Ironically, Julie's daughter's half-birthday is the same day as Dan's birthday in May:-)

Russell loves to help bake, so he peeled the carrots while I mixed the rest of the ingredients. The basic muffin (minus the cream cheese frosting) is a great muffin and I'll be sure to make it more often for my mid-morning coffee break. I have a pound or so of Alysun's amazing homegrown/home milled wheat that she sent to me curtesy of USPS, and the flour adds a great nutty flavor. Perfection!

Pink frosting. Is there any other color for a princess?

Camille was so mesmorized by taking the candle out and reinserting it into the cupcake that she never did eat much of it but for all the fun it provided, I'm glad we have these moments to celebrate. Life is so precious and fragile. May our children know that between the impatient replies from their parents and the demands for better behavior, they are loved with all the love we can give them.

Happy 18 months, Sister!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Still here

Sorry I haven't posted. We're just getting used to living in this new area... far enough from old friends to feel isolated but close enough that a trip north on the freeway will help the homesickness.

I've enrolled Russell in the local athletic center for swim lessons. I'm not thrilled with his teacher and the structure of the lessons so far. Same story with searching for a new church/family. Small church was too small and disorganized. Big church felt like a visit to the mall- everyone was happy to be there but a formal environment. I know we have to give change in life a chance to get better but in the meantime, it's a struggle to live through these experiences. I know it's the times that the wind is blowing strong that challenges us to be strong people. How easy it would be just to skip everything in the middle and just end up at the end of the journey unscathed and naive.

Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Waiting for Spring

Well, as it happens, life in February has turned into life in March. Whew. To say we survived February is a triumphant statement. We signed on the final paperwork on the house on January 28th (we did tell Russell we'd buy him a house for his 5th birthday) and we had the ceiling refinished (popcorn/spackle removed) and the following week we had the ventilation system cleaned out. That took us until mid-February.

We had started packing with the "big" move date of February 21st in mind. The rains about drowned us in February (the Bay area has officially reached it's quota of rainfall for the year!) but the 21st was bright and sunny and the perfect day for Dan and four friends to pack/unpack the UHaul. The following week, I drove between the almost-empty condo and the house with the two kids, trying to clean both. Camille then came down with a cold that promptly turned into an ear-infection and poorly slept nights. We welcomed the month of March with wide open arms.

My friend April came to stay with us for five days and it was a blast to have an excuse to leave the house and get out and about. Our visit to Santa Cruz was well worth it and a little child-free shopping on the weekend, courtesy of Dan, gave us a little girl time. She blessed us with a night of childcare so we could go out on a date (!!) to see True Grit and have dessert at the Cheesecake Factory. Thank-you, Groupon, for saving us many $$$!!

We want to do a lot of work on the house in the coming months and years. Redoing the master bath and the kitchen are a must. Paint all walls as well, and eventually, redo all the closet spaces in each bedroom- they're crudely done at best. We'll also replace the current 'sun room'- a screened-in room- with a more modern space. For now, Dan continues to work on small (cheap) projects such as cleaning up the old wiring in the attic space and undoing any "handyman" work that the previous owner tried to do. A little HGTV would sure have helped that poor fellow.

Anyway, we are currently two weeks from spring and it can't come soon enough. I eagerly await the longer, drier, and warmer days. Summer, you are just about here!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Life in February

Our last overnight guests, my parents, left yesterday morning. The futon is stored away and the moving boxes are getting assembled. The biggest saving grace around here? The fact that due to the lack of storage in our little condo, I don't have any junk to paw through!! Every month for the last five years, I've taken 1-2 paper bags of items to the Thrift Store. There will be some sorting to do- mostly kids' clothing and books, but otherwise, that's it:-) In the meantime, we decided to procrastinate another day and make Valentine cookies instead. Yummy, goopy sugar cookies... and memories...

Guess which one 'camps' in the box with pillows and books? and which one is yelling to get out? My heart melts;-)