Thursday, December 31, 2009

December Update

December wizzed by just as fast as the previous months--maybe faster! Here's what we did:

First, we found our Christmas decorations, got our tree back from our former neighbors, and decorated the house. Last year, since we were moving, we had NO decorations up, and we loaned our tree to our neighbors, because they were just moving in and didn't have their things that were being shipped from Argentina. They were able to enjoy a Christmas tree, and we were able to visit and enjoy a Christmas tree--a real win for everyone. My only stipulation in loaning the tree is that they couldn't give it back before we moved (mid-January), and they were nice enough to keep it all year! One storage nightmare solved!

We had a sadness occur too. Robert's step-Mom passed away after a long battle with cancer. She'd had T-cell lymphoma and had been fighting that. And then she developed pneumonia. While in the hospital for that, they discovered new cancer in her liver and pancreas. The decision was made to keep Jan comfortable and let nature take it's course, and it did. We will certainly miss Jan and her spunky spirit, but we know that she is in a better place, free from pain and reunited with loved ones she's been missing. We know that we can see her again, and that gives us peace.

At the same time that we were experiencing that loss, we had end of the year stuff going on at school. Both kids had field trips and parties, and then we had some Christmas company! Topher's class went to Old Town San Diego for a field trip on "the old ways." He thoroughly enjoyed himself and walked his little heart out. Hannah's class went to see the Nutcracker, and she looked great! They are asked to dress up when attending "the theater" and Hannah loves to dress up! Hannah LOVED the production--pretty music and lots of dancing (what's not to love?)--even though there wasn't any talking (Hannah's favorite activity).

Mid-week, we had a visit from Robert's Mom and Dan. Doreene calendars her vacation time almost a year in advance, and since we'd announced that we were NOT coming up for Christmas this year, she came to us. We had fun just spending time together and relaxing. We celebrated Christmas with them on Friday (the 18th), complete with Christmas dinner and presents to each other. It was a wonderful evening. The kids LOVE having more than one Christmas, and their enthusiasm could barely be contained.

Saturday morning was Topher's 9th birthday! We celebrated by going out to breakfast at Toph's choice, the Original Pancake House. That's sure the way to start off a great day! He enjoyed his birthday pancakes! Toph enjoyed opening his birthday presents. Then we had to say good-bye to Grandma and Dan, as they started their long drive home. Toph spent the morning playing with his new presents, and then we celebrated the afternoon doing exactly what he's wanted to do FOREVER--miniature golfing. Everyone had a GREAT time, the weather was gorgeous, and we even got decent scores. We asked Toph what he wanted for dinner, and he requested Olive Garden. Normally, we don't go out to eat TWICE in a single day, but we got OG gift cards for Christmas, so we enjoyed dinner out. Toph, my non-bread kid, LOVES OG bread sticks and Alfredo sauce. Thoroughly stuffed, we then got to find room for birthday cake. We had a thoroughly wonderful day. And I can't believe that Toph is NINE!

The rest of the time until Christmas flew by faster than ever! We had a trip up to Murrieta to help Carmen's girls finish their Christmas shopping for their Mom. We made another trip up 2 days later to celebrate Carmen's birthday with her (Pancake house for the Moms and then a movie!), and then the Gibb clan came down to us for Christmas Eve. We had a great dinner, and then we all walked the blocks of Candy Cane Lane. We LOVED spending the time together, and we loved walking off some of our dinner to look at the pretty lights. Good times!

Christmas morning couldn't come fast enough for our kids, and we had a great time being HOME. We opened presents and played with our new toys. We had a fantastic time with NO place to go. We stayed in our jammies ALL day, ate junk and drank soda, and had the most fantastic time just being together as a family. We love our extended family too, but this was the first time we've ever celebrated the holiday with just the 4 of us. We called our other family members, but I will admit that I really enjoyed not having to worry about going somewhere. A simple day at home in jammies was PERFECT!

The rest of Christmas vacation has wizzed by as fast as the other parts of December. Now it's New Year's Eve (day) and I am looking forward to putting 2009 to bed and waking up to a new year, a new decade, and a new start. 2009 wasn't the BEST year we've ever had (probably not the worst either though), but I like new beginnings. Each new year feels like a new start. My health is under control. Toph's medicine is under control, and we've adapted to living with ADD. And our family is looking forward to a very good new year. We've got some good goals and resolutions, and it's looking great from this view!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

November Nuggets

I don't see HOW it's possible for it to be December already, but it is. November LITERALLY blew past us.

Veteran's Day found us saved from the "normal" routine and relaxing together. Robert took off Veteran's day and the 2 days afterward--and he almost never takes any personal time off of work, so it was nice. The goal was to do some work around the house, but we pretty much just vegged. I was crazy trying to get my cards finished for card swap, so I was no good to anyone. Card swap came, and I had a great time and enjoyed the cards I got. I even ended up liking the card I made (a miracle, really, since I hated it just 12 hours before card swap).

(I borrowed these photos from my friend, Tina's, blog.)

November is one of my favorite months, because it has 2 of my favorite holidays: MY birthday and Thanksgiving. This was a "big" birthday year for me too, and I couldn't have asked for a better day. The weather was GORGEOUS. I got to go out to my favorite breakfast place. I had LOTS of FaceBook well wishes. And I had several friends stop by with nice treats. I felt SO loved! We went out to dinner as a family, and had a great time there too.

The most significant gift I got was from Robert. He's AMAZING! He was like a kid on Christmas morning though, because my gift got here a couple of days before my big day. Robert kept asking me if I wanted to open it early. No, I did not. I like opening presents on my birthday. Well, he pestered me so much that I caved and opened my gift a day early. He surprised the socks right off of me because he got me a Kindle! You might remember that he purchased a Sony book reader for me 2 Christmases ago, so a Kindle was NOT something I'd even think of asking for. I'd never used the Sony reader though, because I didn't know how to work it--and Robert and I had not had a "school" session about it. Well, I have to say, I like the Kindle better. It's FABULOUS!! It has built-in internet, so you can purchase and download your books immediately. You don't have to download them onto your computer and then transfer them over. The Amazon Kindle store even has books that are free! The screen is a good size, and you can change the font size to accommodate your eyes. It has a built-in dictionary too, so I can put the cursor next to any word, and the definition will pop up at the bottom of the page. AND I can take notes when I'm reading. What's NOT to love about the Kindle?! It is absolutely the BEST gift for an avid reader like me. Now I can carry around 1500 books on something the size of a Reader's Digest magazine. LOVE IT!!! Big win for Robert!

Ok, so my personal holiday was a fantastic success. Then we anxiously awaited our first company of the season. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, my sister's family and my parents came for a short visit. The cousins got to play together--which is the equivalent to being a kid in a candy store--and the adults got to visit. My parents only stayed for Sunday and then spent some time with one of my Mom's friends up north. On Monday, the Ward and Nickel clans went to the science museum and spent a lovely afternoon. My kids are total science nerds, and they LOVE to go to the museum. Aimee's kids had never been to our museum, so they had a good time too. Then the adults went out to dinner at our favorite (Yanni's) and the kids enjoyed time with babysitters. Tuesday morning was very sad for us, because the Wards had to go home. Our visits with them are NEVER long enough.

Tuesday afternoon, Carmen's family came over, and I got to experience the Exchange/Commissary on base for the first time. Wow, it was cool. I had fun looking at all of the stuff, and Carmen and I did our pre-Thanksgiving shopping. Then we got to go to Panera for lunch--mmmmmmm!

Wednesday Toph and I started sneezing and sniffling, and I was pretty sure we either had bad allergies (because we were having a Santa Ana wind event) or we were getting colds. That kind of marred our Thanksgiving, because we just didn't feel as good as usual. We agreed to spend Thanksgiving up with the Gibb family, and Carmen "let" me bring mashed potatoes, stuffing, and rolls. She has a little bit of OCD and likes the rest of the meal prepared the way she likes it. We found a 30 pound turkey when we went shopping for the food, so there was PLENTY of food to go around. We pigged out until we hurt, and then we ate more later. Carmen is a fantastic cook, so all of the food was wonderful. I wish we'd do it more often! Carmen introduced me to a new treat this year--pumpkin cake. It has a crust and then a layer that's like pumpkin pie, and then it's topped with a streusel topping. There are not words to express how delicious this is--pumpkin pie will forever pale in comparison! We had a fantastic day with our good friends, and we returned home stuffed and with plenty of leftovers.

(Because the people pictures I took didn't turn out all that great, this will have to do.)

And by the time we got home from Thanksgiving, I was pretty sure that my problem was a cold, and it felt like it was going into bronchitis. Yay. On Saturday morning, after coughing ALL night long, I took myself to the urgent care and got diagnosed with bronchitis. The doctor was wonderful. He actually listened to me and trusted that, with 36+ years of experience with my asthma, I might know what I was talking about! That was a refreshing change. I came away with some antibiotics, cough medicine, and prednisone, AND a sample of my maintenance inhaler with double the steroid strength. I caught it fast enough that I didn't have to go to the prednisone to make a difference. I have coughed and coughed and coughed, and at times I was sure I'd burst my spleen with so much coughing. Those muscles are tired and sore, but I'm finally starting to feel like a human being again--hooray!

That's how we ended our November. It went so fast it all seems like a blur now. We had an excellent month, and we made some fantastic memories. Before I know it, it will be time for Christmas. I swear the time goes SO MUCH FASTER now that I'm older.

Our goals for December include trying to stay healthy, get our home decorated for the holidays (since we didn't last year--moving), and enjoy the season and our friends and family. We're staying here for the first time since we've moved down, and that will be a little bit different. I'm majorly homesick for the people, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to the nice weather on Christmas.

Halloween Catch Up

It has been long time coming, but I'm finally going to update the blog!

Halloween came when we were crazy busy--but I think that's a constant state of being for us now. The kids decided on their costumes: Toph was Jango Fett (from Star Wars) and Hannah was a Purple Witch (costume was black with purple)--that's a good witch, by the way.

Toph and Hannah were invited to a Halloween party, and because our weather here is kind of schizo, Toph wore his Harry Potter costume from last year (it was way too hot to be Jango Fett). They had a marvelous time at the party. They had snacks and did a couple of crafts, and since the party was on a Saturday evening, Robert and I got to go out to dinner (alone!) to celebrate his birthday (which was the 25th).

The school did their annual Halloween parade on the 30th, and Hannah was extra excited, because her teacher got to lead the parade. I stood around with the other parents and watched the kids do their march, and then discovered that my camera batteries were basically dead. Good job, Mom!

On Halloween eve, the kids and I drove up north to go visit our friends, and Carmen and I went shopping (and scored GREAT bargains) while Carmen's oldest helped the kids carve pumpkins. It was the best of both worlds for me, because I HATE carving pumpkins, and I found great stuff. The pumpkins turned out great--and I have the pictures to prove it.

Halloween night found our kids excited to go trick-or-treating. Robert took them out, and I handed out candy. We were the "lame" house this year, because I've been trying to support Robert in his quest for good health, and I bought mostly pretzles and fruit snacks to give out. Right at the last minute, I bought some candy, but it was mostly handed out and didn't sit around and get eaten before Halloween. What was left over was good for the kids' lunches.

All in all, the kids had fun and Halloween was a success. Next year I might even decorate the house! (Don't ask me what happened, I don't remember.)