Saturday, December 13, 2014

Adventure begins!

I'm just sitting and relaxing here in Tampa, FL and pondering on this amazing fact: this morning, I woke up and kissed my kids good bye in California; and tonight, I'm going to sleep some THREE THOUSAND miles away from where I woke up this morning!  I know it's commonplace to travel fast these days, but just think about how far that is for a moment! Just blew my mind...

Anyway, it was a day of firsts for Jon and me. First time to Florida, first time using Uber and Air B&B (both of which were very positive experiences, I might add) and first time just walking into a completely unknown city just for the sake of wandering and discovering what we could discover. Saw lots of fun and interesting things around downtown Tampa. We enjoyed the riverfront walk, Mediterranean food, and found the hockey stadium which was tonight hosting an orchestral concert.  Seemed like the whole city was dressed in formalwear! Beautiful Christmas lights and holiday music added to the festive ambiance.

Tomorrow, we're off to the port of Tampa! Let the epic tenth anniversary cruise begin!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Little updates on my little people

Now that I have to "schoolkids," there is a distinct divide in the house between to older two and younger two. This week, I only got pictures of my home girls who have to hang out with me all day long... So, here's Xochitl with a few updates:
We got new shelves!  Mom is really excited to have a place to put fancy things for display above and hide cluttery (but necessary) things below!

We went to visit great grandma Severson in the hospital after her surgery. We took turns going up to see her with all the kids, so on the "off" time, we explored different areas in the hospital, including this beautiful garden!  Xochitl would like everyone to know that she did NOT pick this flower--she found it on the ground. Mom can vouch for that, too :)
Xochitl passed off another level of swim lessons... wow... we had two lucky weeks where she was the only student in her class and so got one-on-one attention with her teacher for the entire half hour!  That helped move her along significantly! Well done, little mermaid!


With the coming of age to 18 months, Jade has begun to have to suffer consequences for disobedience. She is very tender, however, and even when we called her OUT of her trouble corner, she would not come... like, for a LONG time!  Then we realized she was sniffling to herself and finally she couldn't hold it in any longer and let out a very heart-wrenching sob :( Daddy took a lot of pity on the cute little thing... or felt a pang of guilt for putting her in time out... Anyway, this is a classic Jade moment here...

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

In a Cottage in the Woods

Happy Thanksgiving from Brentwood Lake, Twain Harte!
Happy Thanksgiving! We had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving this year! Lots of new places and experiences to enjoy.  We were invited by Paulecca (aka Paul and Becca) to her family cabin up in Twain Harte, CA.  I had never been there before, but had heard about such a place from friends who enjoyed summer vacation there.  I was excited to see the place, a cute little town in the midst of Pinecrest, New Melones, and Yosemite.

Becca and her mom made all the plans and arrangements and we set off on Tuesday morning ready for some fun!  I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was completely blown away by the place when we arrived! It it a BEAUTIFUL cabin filled with lots of fun! There's four bedrooms, three bathrooms, yes, but also air hockey, foosball, two big TVs, a zip line, a tire swing, a small play structure, and a slide from the second floor balcony to the ground. Hours upon hours of fun just at the cabin!



Tuesday afternoon after arrival was spent around the cabin enjoying all the amenities. My mom and dad came up for the day as well.  Xochitl, Dawna, Henry, and Zoey created their names with natural artwork.



Wednesday was likewise very relaxing.  Xochitl and I took a walk to get a first glance at Brentwood Lake. After lunch, we enjoyed a hike along railroad grade.  We encountered some kind of drainage canal and enjoyed racing sticks and leaves and old cans we found around.  Jade enjoyed throwing rocks and running up and down the bank. But luckily, she never fell in! Paul and Jon arrived Wednesday night to complete the party!

Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and clear and beautiful in Twain Harte.  All of us trekked down to Brentwood lake and did some trotting before enjoying turkey later that day.  The lake has a lovely path all the way around it.  One end of the lake has sand and a play structure and swings. The kids played there while the adults tag teamed running the half-mile loop around it. All the kids took a turn or two around the lake as well. 
Joe and his smooth smile
Cami swinging away!
Paul. 
"How cute am I???"
"Yes, I am that cute!"
Cousins bonding!
Jon, Becca, and I each ran 7 laps around the lake to complete a 5K. A refreshing start to the day! Tom and Janet Weed joined us at the cabin for our Thanksgiving feast. Everything was delightful and everyone relaxed and enjoyed cooking only a part of the great meal.


In other big news of the week, Larry lost his tooth! It was hurting bad on Wednesday night and he bravely took hold of it and pulled it out himself! I thought it was cute that Larry and Jade are both missing teeth in the same place... one having just fallen out, the other not even in yet! 

Friday we took an adventurous excursion in the morning to a new climbing destination... but all those pictures will be included in another post... Friday afternoon we ventured out to Pinecrest lake and enjoyed walking along the low shore, hunting for fishing line and treasures, and throwing rocks... again...and again... Jade never gets tired of that... 


Up above the shore was an awesome amphitheater.  The kids put on a little show for us about a robber who stole wheat and then got knocked out by a baby... Then they all proceeded to dance and dance...

Ballroom with the babies!
Quite a week for all of us! That cabin was such a wonderful place to meet and enjoy our vacation time.  It also was a mystical place where some of life's most puzzling questions were answered... Questions such as... 

What if Joe swam in a pool of whipped cream?
Answer: He would rarely be seen but would smell very fishy.

What if Cami bought stocks in a transportation business? 
Answer: Then we'd call her motorcycle mama. 

What if Paul did flips in his underwear with KK? 
Answer: He would develop abs and glutes like a Greek statue and start a new exercise craze that sweeps the nation. 

These are just a few examples of the pearls of wisdom found while sitting around on comfortable section couches close to midnight giggling our heads off at a game of "What if..." (If those questions and answers seem completely random to you, then we have totally succeeded!)

What a happy Thanksgiving week we had! 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Witch, Turkey, Fish

We had another eventful week in "Kobersteinville" as Dawna likes to call it in her newspaper (see Google+).  So, in reverse post title order... 

FISH
Xochitl passed her first level of swim lessons... she is now an "Advanced Preschool" swimmer.  What does that mean? She can bob, stay under water for 3 seconds, push off the stairs and swim 3-5 yards with kick AND arm motion! She was thrilled to get to ring the bell and get her ribbon!


TURKEY!
Lincoln Elementary hosted a short Turkey Trot race!  It's a fun race event where the winner gets a frozen turkey, second place takes home a sack of potatoes, and third place wins a can of yams! It was raining on and off all morning, so we spent a while waiting... the kids were called out of class to run between downpours...  Dawna came in 5th for the 3rd grade girls. Larry ran the WHOLE way! Xochitl, Jade, and I enjoyed cheering them on in our raincoats and parka!

One parent has a pet turkey that he claims has kept skunks away from his dogs... he brought the turkey for the kids to see.  His name is Thanksgiving. Jade would not get close enough to be in the same picture. Mom, clearly, this is not a puppy.


WITCH (and MONKEY!)

On Saturday, we went up to Danville to see Marisa and Sydney perform in "The Wizard of Oz" Marisa was cast as Glenda and Sydney was a flying monkey (more accurately and back hand springing monkey) and a citizen of the Emerald City. All the kids loved the play! Jade was totally into all the action, the dancing, and the applause! 
 


 The somewhat embarrassing part of seeing the play was that I have never seen the movie or the play or read the story... so I got to be surprised at what happened :) I didn't know how it was going to end... Also, on the way there, we got to see a big rig being pulled out of a ditch by a giant crane. Cool tools, terrible traffic... Anyway, great job Wightman ladies!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mother Daughter "Engineering" Time!

Saturday morning, I had finally had ENOUGH of the "click...click...click..." whenever I played low C on the piano. Some clever child of mine somehow got a penny underneath the key such that every time you played it, the key clicked against the penny.  Well, this was driving me insane. It had to stop.


So I started disassembling the piano much the same way I did about 5 years ago when I bought it and re-keyed it. Dawna was intrigued with the design and ingenuity of the levers beyond the music stand, fall board, and key lock. She helped me remove all 88 keys...one by one...


We found not only a penny, but several 10 yen coins, a one yen coin, and a Cabella's shooting arcade token. Random...

Then she helped me clean each key and replace them in their proper order on the piano. Dawna was also responsible for replacing the key lock and fall board.  She did great puzzling it all back together! 

THAT is an awesome Saturday morning! One cute girl, some great discovery, one project accomplished!

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Honestly...

THWAP! BANG! THUD! Ka-tink-tink-tink...

Those are the kinds of sounds that make you go running towards your children.

So when I heard just that the other night, I jumped up and sprinted towards it, hoping there would be no blood accompanying the destructive cacophony.  Rounding the bedroom corner, I appraised the situation.  Ambulance needed? Band-aids? Well, fortunately, there was no blood, no painful tears, but there were an awful lot of sheepish looks and guilty faces filling the space... I found a couple of my daughters in the palm tree bathroom with the towel rack in their hands, instead of attached to the wall where it was supposed to be.

"What happened?" The question is as natural and obvious as anything.

"It... just fell off the wall," one little one replied.

"It fell off the wall?" I replied, drizzling my statement with disbelief. "You know, you don't get in trouble for breaking something. Accidents happen... but you DO get in trouble for not telling the truth.  Do you want to try again?"

"Well... we were hanging on it and it fell off the wall." Well, that was delicately put, I thought, as two penny-sized holes gaped open from the wall.  Ripped with force beyond all reason is more like it...

"Do you think that was a good idea?"

"No." Good answer. Obviously.

"Remember, things can be fixed or replaced, but telling the truth is far more important..." Then followed a lovely discussion about honesty, and being truthful and trustworthy... And we were all edified and rejoiced together. And then we fixed the towel rack.

Over the next few days, I pondered why my kids thought it was a good idea to hang on a towel rack... too much time on the school playground? Not enough time at the park? Or wanting to be a climber like daddy...

THWAP! BANG! THUD! Ka-tink-tink-tink...

My thoughts were interrupted by a sound that I hoped to never hear again...

And there was my son... standing in the owl bathroom... towel rack in hand, guilty look on his face... "It just fell off the wall..."

[Heave big sigh now...]

Next time I make a public service announcement about honesty, please remind me to invite ALL the children of the household. It will save me a lot of time... and maybe even a towel rack or two...

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Holy Halloween Countdown!

 What a year it has been for Halloween! We didn't want to miss any chance to party, so as a result, we were a part of 7 Halloween celebrations.  That might have been a bit overboard for one year... we are pretty "funned out" as they say.  But here's the countdown of activities we attended, spanning from October 24-31, in order of appearance...

7. Lincoln Spooktacular: The first chance for the kids to put their costumes on display! And here they are: It's Halloween 2014! Starring...
Dawna as Maid Marian from Robin Hood (This is a costume I wore as a kid... made by my mommy!)

Larry as Aren't-You-A-Little-Short-For-A-Storm-Trooper: You might THINK he's a storm trooper, but he's actually Luke Skywalker in disguise ;) You can tell because he likes to carry around a light saber...
Xochitl as Ariel (another costume I wore as a kid hand made by mom!)

Jade as a pony... or a bubble... or is it a bauble? It's a hard word to say, but she tries...
All the cuties together, ready to party hard!


6. Niles Carnival: We attended Henry's school carnival and had a great time with all the games and prizes! We had some last minute changes here...

Jade as a puppy... or a bubble... or a bauble... just as all friendly animals are called... She had a badly scabbed up nose that could almost pass for a puppy nose...

Xochitl declared the Ariel costume to be just too itchy... plus she kept stepping on the fin.  So she swapped it out for this blast from the past costume of mom's... an old Betty Gentry dance studio special I wore to tap dance to "Tiptoe through the Tulips." But if you ask Xochitl, she's going as the sunshine. Yeah... we have no shortage of girly things to dress up in around the hosue. 
The most creative part of the Niles carnival was this carnival game with three giant hula hoops on the ground and the kids had to throw poker chips into two to win the prize: their choice of donated stuffed animals! I am so recommending this one to our school for next year!  The kids thought it was awesome and the parents loved trading in 20 old stuffed animals for just one or two...

5. Family Halloween Evening: Nana and Papa put together a great family home evening party for us and the Pauleccas complete with favorite activities including...
...Donuts on a string...
Which is fun for all ages! From the mamas... 

... to the babies... 

...and everyone in between!
... Stirring and Stirring and Stirring the brew!!!! 
Other events not pictured from this night included a treasure hunt, candy corn drop, and Halloween themed dinner. Great times with cousins!

4. Google-ween: Always an enormous production!  This year was Alice in Wonderland themed event.  The kids enjoyed such things as...


...croquet in Disney A in W style with flamingo mallets, face card wickets and balls decorated like little hedgehogs!

... white rabbit petting zoo!

...giant chessboard!

... Giant Alice legs!  These were just outside a "rabbit hole" tunnel on the other side of a rose bush maze. Loads of fun, terrible traffic getting off the campus... note to future Google-ween visitors: just head south to get on 101. If you try to head north, you'll encounter nearly gridlocked traffic trying to get around buses and  illegally parked cars mixed with the regular traffic of the afternoon... not a pretty picture...


3. Lincoln parade and class parties: FINALLY got to the actual Halloween... Larry and Dawna had a parade first thing in the morning.  All the classes marched around the school to the cheers of the parents. Xochitl and Jade were my tag-alongs as we went to Larry's class to decorate pumpkins, make paper bag bats, and sing Halloween songs with the kids.  Then we went to Dawna's class and had sweets galore!  Dawna wanted to bring something to share with her class, but as we all know, Dawna is not a sweet-tooth kid. She asked me to make a veggie tray to take to her class.  I was impressed by the third graders.  They all wanted some vegetables and ranch and some kept coming back for more and more! Every last veggie was eaten up! One cute kid said to me while grabbing more carrots, "You make the best treats!" Thanks :) We were at the school for the entire day... When we got home, we had naps and recuperating time before our last events...

2. Bayside Trunk or Treat: Tradition... As always, a trunk or treat at the church building on Halloween evening.  We try to keep it short and sweet. Hot dog barbecue, walk around with candy, the end. The fun part was that Jon and I finally got to dress up :)

So here we are! I am being Tasha Yar and Jon is Capitan Jean-Luc Picard! He even let me shave his head for the occasion! He looked awesome! 
Sparring practice... use the force!
Wait... What movie are we from again???  We embrace all Sci-Fi. 
1. Trick or treat! And finally! What Halloween is actually for! Trick or Treating! After all that, the kids didn't last too long outside... basically we made it down our street and back... but the fun part was that we got to actually tag along with a neighbor girl who is in Larry's school class! The kids ran along from house to house and we old moms had to struggle to keep up with their enthusiasm for the candy... My kids took tips on which houses hand out full size candy bars... They scored a LOT of goodies... After the trick or treating, Brooke and Jon and Alex joined us to watch the Lego Movie and relax.  I love it when Halloween is on a Friday! No guilt for staying up late!

And to conclude the post, here's our little artist Dawna's rendition of Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!!

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