Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Stockings!!!

When Luke and I got married, we bought Christmas stockings at Target. When Silas was born, we never got him a stocking because we couldn't find one that we loved. Well fast forward four years. None of our kids have Christmas stockings... and this year, that all changed. A good friend of mine from high school owns a stocking company, so I decided to check out what he sold. There were so many great options, it took me awhile to narrow it down. Our stockings arrived on Friday- and they are beautiful! I love how they look, I love the great quality, I love that they are personalized, and I love that they are stockings we can use for many years.

Close up of my stocking.

We were excited to see that the stockings
were lined, which means no stretching out!

If you are looking for Christmas stockings this year, check out Merry Stockings. My favorite stockings are the Modern Stockings. I know you will find something that you love. Did I mention that all of the stockings come personalized? And the best part is, it's not too late to order for this year. If you order by Wednesday, December 14th (tomorrow!), you will receive your stockings in time for Christmas. And you can receive 10% off your order by using the discount code ELF. Shop over at Merry Stockings today and support a great small business (based in Minnesota!).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Days of Christmas

Here are the 25 special things we will be doing for Christmas (see my last blog post about the Christmas Advent house we got this year.) This is the plan for now. I will probably make changes in the order of things, as our month goes along and our schedules change. One thing that is not listed yet is we are planning to do something as a family at a rescue mission downtown. I am waiting to see what that looks like... It might involve on going to the place and doing something. It might be buying presents for kids who will spent their Christmas at the mission. Since we aren't sure what this is yet, I haven't added it.
1- Decorate Christmas tree for playroom 
2- Make Christmas cookies
3- Go to a Christmas parade
4- Get out Little People Nativity set, read Christmas story from the Bible
5- Present: new Christmas sock
6- Present: Christmas Bereanstean Bears Movie
7- Do a Christmas craft
8- Go to the Broadmoor Hotel to see Christmas Lights and make s'mores
9- Christmas candy!
10- Go visit Santa Claus at the Bank
11- Watch a Christmas Veggie Tales
12- Make Christmas cards
13- Make Christmas cookies and presents for teachers
14- Present: Stockings (my kids have never had stockings and we finally ordered some this year. More to come on that later.)
15- Read Christmas stories and have hot chocolate
16- Go to the Electric Safari at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
17- Christmas Shopping as a family
18- Present: "It's a Meaningful Life" Christmas Veggie Tales
19- Decorate Gingerbread House
20- Go to Polar Express Night at Chick-fil-a
21- Make cut out cookies and decorate
22- Bring cookies to the Fire Station
23- Drive around and see Christmas lights
24- Make cupcakes for Jesus’ birthday
25- Read stories about the first Christmas and open presents
So we will see how this all works out! My point is to have something fun everyday from now until Christmas. Lots of this is regular stuff we would be doing anyways, but doing it like this will be extra fun for the kids. 
What are some special things your family does each Christmas? What are some new traditions you are starting within your family?

Three Things on Thursday

1. This fall, I overcommitted myself. I went from doing nothing in the summer; Just play dates and shopping at Target to doing way. too. much. At the end of August, Silas started speech therapy once a week, about 25 minutes from where we live. I also started working, about 10 hours a week. In September, I started doing Bible Study every Wednesday morning, a small group every Wednesday night with Luke, and MOPS every Thursday morning. Somewhere in there I committed to helping with Children's Church every week, which isn't a lot of hours, but just something else on my plate. So not only was I busy, I was dragging my children all over the place too. The end result of trying to do this much has been, I have not done everything well and I have been flaky about some of my commitments. In January, I am doing less so that I can really enjoy what I do commit too.

2. During the last few months of being busy, I have also noticed that when I am overcommitted, I spending way less time with my children. (I know, that should have been pretty obvious to begin with. Sometimes I am a slow learner.) And then when I do have time with them, I am tired from all I am doing (and from my insomnia), that I feel like I am giving my children my leftovers. And I am not ok with that. I can hardly fathom that Silas will be in kindergarten next fall. Life speeds by and I am staying at home with my children so I can spend time with them and enjoy them. This fall I have allowed myself to by too busy doing "stuff." But even good things can take away time from what really things that are really important- like my family.

3. Christmas. My absolute favorite season of the year. I love everything about it! I love celebrating the birth of Jesus. I love the time with family. I love the music (and start listening to it, often, in October). I love snow. I love Christmas plays and musicals at church. I love all the cookies and candy. I love Christmas Eve church services. I love shopping to buy special gifts for family. I love traditions. I. LOVE. IT. ALL. Tomorrow is December 1st which is exciting. We are starting a new tradition in our family. I bought an Advent calendar that we are filling with special things for each day until Christmas. Some of the things do relate to the real meaning of Christmas- and some of them are just fun. Here is a picture of the one I bought. (And I was so happy to find a picture of it tonight on the internet because I was not feeling very committed to taking a picture of it myself to upload.)

It looks like it belongs in the game "Candyland." Silas calls it the candy house. If you know me, you know that I shop and buy, and then often return if I find something that I like better or if it's a better deal. So when I bought this house, that is sort of what I had in mind. Well, once we had it, it was ours. Silas loved it and there was not going back!

Tomorrow I will post the list of what we will be doing for the 25 days. The kids are excited and I am too!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

24 Things I am Thankful for...

I have much to be thankful for- something I try to remember every day. Rather then try to post on facebook everyday what I was thankful for, I thought I would make a list here instead.

1. Luke- He is an AMAZING husband and my best friend. I cannot imagine life without him by my side.
2. Silas- I love this sweet boy! He says funny things that make us laugh everyday. He continues to have an amazing memory. He "read" to me an entire Curious George story tonight- from memory.
3. Eliana- I love this silly girl. She is silly all the time. Seriously. I am enjoying the time I have with her when Silas is at preschool. She is all girl- babies, pink, purses, and shoes.
4. Levi- He is 8 months old today. So hard to believe! He is probably our happiest baby (and that's saying something, because our other babies were happy, easy babies too!). He learned to clap his hands this week. There is almost always a smile on this face.
5. My parents- I love living close to them. They are not only my parents, but great friends. They light up our kids world, and ours too. They have set an amazing example for me, in marriage and parenting.
6. Kelly and family- My sister is one of my best friends. I so wish they lived closer to us! We talk multiple times a week (sometimes multiple times a day!). Her husband, Corey, is pretty amazing too. He has been in my life since I was 14 years old. He's a great brother. I adore Natalie, Connor, Teyla, and Kieran. They are awesome kids and cousins.
7. Michael and kids- Since becoming adults, Michael and I have been great friends. He is an awesome father to Jordan and Madison- and a pretty amazing man in general. One of the benefits of living in California was that we could drive down for a long weekend visit. I wish we could see him and the kids more often. Jordan and Madison are super fun kids- and Silas and Eliana love playing with them!
8. Jonathan and Kelly- Jonathan is 4 years younger then me and is a great little brother. (Which if you know him, isn't accurate. He's tall. I guess I should just call him my younger brother). Jonathan and I have done a lot together. In addition to growing up together, we worked together, we went to college together, and I was a a youth group leader at church for his grade. (So that meant retreats, summer trips, and missions trips together too). He married Kelly almost 2 years ago. And she is amazing too- a beautiful person, both inside and out. They are great for each other- and I know that God brought them together in His timing for each other.
9. Luke's family- Luke has an great family that I now how the privilege of being a part of. Often, Thanksgiving ends up being a big holiday for Luke's family- cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are all together. We have spent the last three Thanksgivings with his family- and we will miss them all tomorrow! Everyone lives in California- so we don't get to see everyone much. We miss them.
10. God- He is my life. Without my relationship with God, I would be nothing. Moving to Colorado has brought my relationship with Him to another level. I am learning to trust more, worry less. My favorite name for Him is Immanuel (God with Us).
11. Freedom to worship- I am thankful that we have the freedom of religion in the USA. There are many people in other countries around the world who don't have this privilege.
12. Our home- We moved into our home last January. It's great! Luke and I have always lived in apartments. We love having space (double the space of our last apartment). We love having a garage (especially when it snows). We love having a fenced in yard where the kids can play.
13. Our cars- We have two cars that seem to be sent from God. Both cars we got for a good price, with super low mileage. I am thankful that Luke has a car to drive to work. I am thankful that I have a car so that I can go to Bible Study, MOPS, and just get out of the house while Luke works!
14. Clean water- This is something that is so easy to take advantage of. So many people in the world don't have access to clean water. I am thankful that I do- and I want to help other people have access to clean water too.
15. Food- I love to eat. I am thankful for good food that God created for us to enjoy. And can I be specific and say I am thankful for Chick-fil-a? Because, I am! We love that place and eat their often. I am not sure I could live somewhere that didn't have Chick-fil-a.
16. Computers and Telephones- I am thankful for technology that helps us keep in touch with people.
17. Health- I am thankful that my family is healthy. There is so much sickness in our world. Being healthy is something very big that I am thankful for.
18. Mountains- One thing I love about Colorado is the mountains. They are big, beautiful, majestic.
19. Weather- I love weather. Specifically, different types of weather. Hot. Cold. Rain. Snow. Sun. Clouds. Hail. Rainbows. And Colorado has crazy weather. And I love that.
20. Friends- I am so thankful for friends. Moving is hard. And it's made me realize even more how thankful I am for friends. Friends that love us. Friends that encourage us. Friends who walk through life with us.
21. MOPS- I have been in MOPS for 4 years. And it's great. My MOPS group in California were some of my great friends- and still are now.
22. Bible Study- I love having the chance to gather with a group of women every week and study God's word. I have a great group here in Colorado, that I have unfortunately missed a lot this fall. Hopefully next semester I can make it more!
23. The YMCA- We became members of the Y when we moved to Colorado. I love being able to take the kids swimming there (and our Y has a great pool for kids). I enjoy working out a few mornings a week, while the kids play in childcare. And after I work out, I can take a shower without little hands banging on the door. :)
24. Our country- I am thankful for the many freedoms that we have in the USA. I am thankful for democracy. The United States of America is not a perfect place, but it's better then anything else.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! May it be a day filled with love and laughter. And a day to remember the many blessings in each of our lives.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

For a few years, we have been participating in a project called Operation Christmas Child. OCC provides Christmas boxes to thousands of children through out the world. For us, it's a perfect opportunity to let our children learn and serve. People who live in the United States of America are RICH compared to most of the world. Check out the Global Rich List- it's an interesting website that helps put into perspective how much money we make compared to the rest of the world. Americans, by in large, are in the top 1% of the world. Over half the world lives on less then $2 a day- less then what many of us might have spent on coffee this morning.

I want our children to grow up with the realization that we have much to be thankful for. We are thankful for our home, for heat and water, for our beds to sleep in, for food to eat, for the freedom to go to church and worship God, for jobs, for cars, for health insurance. We are blessed. And I want our children to grow up being thankful- and realizing that there are many people throughout our world that don't have some of the most basic things, like clean water.

We started talking to Silas two years ago about how some children in the world don't get any Christmas presents. So we got a shoebox, took Silas to Target, and he picked out things for boy his age. We picked out some basic "need" items: a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of soap, a washcloth, a comb. Then we picked out "fun" stuff: a coloring book, crayons, a small toy, a shirt, candy, sunglasses, a flashlight... you get the idea. And the neat thing about it was that we were able to get Silas involved- and let him pick out things he would want to get himself.

So this year, we involved Eliana too. We went to Target and the two kids picked out all sorts of stuff to pack in their shoebox, so that a child somewhere in the world would get a present for Christmas. I put a picture of them in their shoebox. They are going to color a picture too. We want the children who receive the boxes to know they are loved. And that another child across the world picked out these gifts for them.

A girl at the Bible Study I have been attending grew up in what is now the Republic of Georgia. When she was a child, she received an Operation Christmas Child box. She was able to tell our group how much it meant to her as a child. It was neat for me to hear her experience- and to know that this very little thing that we do, does make a difference in a child's life.

If you would like to be a part of this, act quick. The last day to drop off  boxes is November 21st. I would encourage everyone to be a part of this project and help make a difference in the lives of children around the world.

Here is the stuff that Eliana picked out for her box.

Here is the stuff that Silas picked out for his box. 

To happy kids with their Christmas present boxes for a child in need.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Things on Thursday

1. Busy. I feel like that describes my life right now. I need a day to slow down, rest, and get things done around our house. Maybe this weekend!

2. Conflict. I am not a fan of it. I would rather deal with a problem then pretend it doesn't exist. But when dealing with it, I still always get that sick feeling in my stomach. Because I don't want to hurt somebody's feelings and I don't want to get hurt either. How do you deal with conflict?

3. Luke took some pictures of this kids a week ago. And I am loving them! Here are a few:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Maple Pecan Scones

One of our favorite fall treats from Starbucks is their Maple Pecan Scones. Luke got me hooked many years ago, and they are still one of my favorites. Last Saturday, I decided to try and make some at home. The result? Maple Pecan scones even better then Starbucks. Seriously. Try them for yourself and you will love them. I am thinking that these would be perfect for breakfast on Thanksgiving day.

Maple Pecan Scones (I found the recipe here)
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups flour
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
2 T maple syrup
2 1/2 T cold butter (cut into small pieces)
1 large egg
1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
1/2-3/4 tsp maple extract
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp maple extract (I think I used slightly more)
5 tsps hot water

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use a food processor or blender to finely grind oats. Using a mixer, mix flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add maple syrup and butter; mix well. In a small bowl, beat the egg, cream, and maple extract. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix well. Add pecans and mix.
*Place dough on a floured surface (note: dough is very sticky at this point). Knead dough 8-10 times and pat into a circle. Use a pizza cutter to cut 8 wedges.
*Put scones on a a greased baking sheet, slightly separated. Cook 13-15 minutes, until slightly brown. (Note: I checked my scones at 12 minutes and they were brown and done). Remove scones from pan and put on a wire rack to cool. Cool for 3-5 minutes.
*Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Add more or less water depending on the desired consistency of the glaze. I kept the glaze fairly thick, because it thins out on the warm scones. Spread glaze on scones and wait about 15 minutes to serve (to allow the glaze to dry).

The end result is yummy, better then Starbucks, scones. I added sprinkles to a few of the scones, because everything is better with sprinkles in the mind of child. Silas loved the scones- and ate an entire one. Both Luke and I loved these scones- this recipe is a keeper!

Three Things on Thursday- Kids Edition

1. Silas... I cannot believe this boy will be 5 in January! He says funny things every day that crack us up. Lately, when we tell him something, he will say, "You've got to be kidding me!" Always makes us smile. He is loving preschool- and the new friends he is making there. Today at school they had a Pumpkin Party. He dressed up as a firefighter. They paraded through the offices and had special activities. After school today, he told me, "Mom, this is a really fun day!"

2. Eliana... She is 2.5 going on 16. Seriously, this girl was born with a little attitude. But she completely melts us too. She is very sweet and lately has been completely enamored with Levi. When he wakes up from a nap, she runs to him and says, "Hey little guy! How are you doing?" She loves her dolls and continues to be a pack rat with about everything. I am hoping to start potty training soon. She has zero interest at this point, but I would love to be buying diapers for only one child. Silas was very motivated by candy and a reward chart when potty training. Eliana could care less. See? Kids from the same parents can be completely different!

3. Levi... This little guy is growing bigger by the day! He is 7 months old now, which is hard to believe. He is the first child I have exclusively nursed, and this week we have tried giving him bottles. It. Has. Not. Worked. Our other babies have always taken bottles, so this is new for us. We will continue trying and hopefully he will take a bottle some day soon! Levi is sitting up on his own. He isn't super excited about baby food. He has no teeth yet. And he is the happiest baby ever. His smiles light up a room!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Road trip to Minnesota

Last Saturday the kids and I embarked on a quick, last minute trip to Minnesota. My parents were going to hold some meetings for the new ministry they are involved in. And me and the kids? We were going to have fun. Play with cousins, visit family, soak up some fall weather, collect fall leaves, and of course, eat!

The drive to Minnesota takes about 15 hours without stops. We were set to leave on Saturday morning at 9AM. My parents had our van and were planning to pack up and come pick up me and the kids. Well Saturday morning we awoke to SNOW! Yep, on October 8th. And it was snowy pretty hard. So my parents eventually arrived at our house. And our van? The "Check Engine" light lit up on their drive over. So we unloaded and reloaded into their van, which was not a quick process. (Read: 3 car seats). We got on the highway, and found out the highway was closed due to an accident. At that point, we completely rerouted our trip and drove through Kansas and north to Iowa. We arrived on Sunday night, ready to not be in the car for a few days. The kids did great on the drive, which I was happy about.

So Luke wasn't scheduled to arrive until late Wednesday night, so I was a single parent for a few days. And during that time, I learned that I never want to be a single parent. It's tough work- props to those of you who do it day in and day out.

Two lessons learned while on our trip:

~Don't pack attempt to pack light. That means that you will end up doing laundry on vacation- maybe more then once. I don't have a ton of clothes that fit right now thanks to my hyperthyroidism. On our car ride to MN, Levi's dirty diaper leaked onto my jeans. I washed them. The very next time I wore the jeans, he had another dirty diaper and you guessed it. It leaked onto my jeans again. Two leaky diapers all week- and both times on the same pair of jeans- that happen to be the only pair of jeans that actually fit right now.

~Don't bother trying to keep your kids out of classes or the nursery before a trip. You might think by doing this you will be more likely to have healthy kids for your trip. Wrong. I kept the kids out of numerous things last week because I did not want them to get sick while we were on vacation. Guess what? All 3 kids got sick with a nasty cold that included a fever. Guess who is sick now? Luke and I. Seriously, I heart winter. But I do not heart all of the sickness that comes with it.

There were more lessons I wanted to blog about, but I can't remember them anymore.

I saw some friends while in MN, but the best thing about being in MN was just spending time with my family. I happen to have one of the greatest families in the world. And it completely stinks that we are spread out over all over the country. I cherish the time I spend with my siblings- and for my kids, their cousins. We had a great week with Kelly and Corey, and my nieces and nephews.

On Friday, we went to the Children's Museum in Minnesota. It's a fun museum, probably the best that we have been to. While we were driving to meet my sister and her clan for dinner at Cafe Latte (which was my 3rd visit there in 5 days. And for the record, I would have happy to go every day!) Anyways, on the drive, I asked Silas if he liked Minnesota or Colorado better. He said, "Minnesota!". I asked again... but threw in California. And I honestly didn't know what his answer would be. And he said, without hesitation, "Minnesota!" That is my child! But his reason for liking Minnesota the best is because of the Children's Museum.

One of the benefits of driving to Minnesota was we could bring lots of stuff home. We went shopping at Trader Joe's, Byerly's and Cub and brought home lots of our favorite things we can't buy here. We also visited two apple orchards. I think we brought home 50 pounds of apples between my parents and us!

We drove through the night on Friday, home to Colorado. Poor Luke spent only 48 hours in Minnesota, and then 20 driving. It was my crazy idea to drive through the night. And it was hard for Luke and I. But it was definitely easier for the kids. We did pull over in Iowa, and we slept in a parking lot for a few hours. And the sun arose, and we started driving again. We stopped at McDonald's for breakfast because we are die hard Monopoly fans. We WILL win some year! It was the busiest McDonald's I have ever seen for breakfast. There were only a few tables open. Lots of senior citizens! We were quite the sight, as the kids walked inside in their pajamas, with messed up hair and crusty noses (the kids, not us).  We were thrilled to be home last night. Silas isn't sure he ever wants to drive to MN again because "It's SO FAR!"

The kids said lots of funny things on our car ride. The best was yesterday though. Eliana collects everything. I am constantly telling her to not pick up things on the ground (like cigarette butts). Yesterday in the car, she was throwing a fit because Silas had her empty fruit snack wrapper. Silas looked at her and said, "Eliana, don't be a hoarder! Throw garbage away!" Amen!

All in all, a fun but very busy week! I have feel like I have fallen off the blog bandwagon. I want to go back and blog about the last 2 months, but have realized that is never going to happen. I will do a few brief recaps and move on!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Terrific Tuesday: Vacation Edition

Our second to last day in San Jose was packed with fun. It started off with breakfast with friends. After breakfast we headed to one our favorite parks. This park was within walking distances of where we lived. We often walked to the park after dinner so the kids could play. We had Eliana's 1st birthday party there. We have many happy memories there- and the kids were exited to go back.

After the park, we went to Los Gatos to meet with up with some friends at the fountain. We had lunch and the kids splashed in the water. Simple things like this are things that I miss the most.

The kids aren't the only ones who like to play in thefountain- I do too!
I love chasing them around- I just try to stay somewhat dry!

Reagan, Maddy, and Eliana

Next, we hit the road for Watsonville. We were thrilled to find out that Gizdich was still picking strawberries. I convinced Luke that I had to take some home with us. We arrived and the fields were practically empty. But the strawberry bushes were full of huge, red, juicy berries. They were so good! In a half an hour, we picked 10lbs of strawberries. Luke looked at me like I was nuts and I know was silently wondering how we would get all of them home...

Yep! The strawberries were delicious!

The strawberry fields of Watsonville... 

Now how are we getting to get these home!?!?

Next stop was Capitola! Capitola is a little town south of Santa Cruz, right on the beach. It has a cute little downtown with shops and restaurants. It will always hold a special place in my heart because it was where Luke and I had our first date... Anyways, we grabbed pizza at Pizza My Heart, and walked down to the beach to eat. A cool breeze was coming off the ocean and it was a beautiful start to our evening...

Our final thing for the day was the Santa Cruz Boardwalk: Take Two. We met our Boardwalk friends (Brian, Marny, Maddy, and Reagan). It was basically a repeat of the last week. Lots of rides. Time for the adults to talk. Fair food (cotton candy, corn dogs, soda, ice cream). You know, healthy stuff. I thought that Silas might enjoy going on the sky ride from one end of the park to the other. When I suggested it, he was excited. And so were all of the other kids- and me! But Luke, Brian, and Marny weren't particualarly thrilled. Luke took one for the team and went. Luke rode with Reagan and Silas. I rode with Maddy and Eliana. Maddy was screaming at the top of her lungs at Luke- just calling him name- for no particular reason. Half way through the ride she looked at me and said, "I'm so funny!" It was so innocent and cute; it cracked me up.

Maddy and Reagan on the airplanes!

Silas driving the Pepsi truck

One of the rides that is the kid's favorite is the race car ride. The cars ride around an oval shaped track, and the cars whip around the end of the track and the kids go sliding in their seats. Their expressions always make us laugh!

Eating ice cream at 10PM before heading home! 

When we go to the Boardwalk, we always intend to leave at a reasonable time. And that never happens. We are lucky to leave by 10PM- and then we will have an hour drive home. This night was no different. We quit the rides at 10PM and then went to ice cream. Who sugars up their kids before bed? We do! Because that is what vacation is about!

Goodbye Boardwalk! Can't wait to come back again!

Our time "Back Home" in San Jose

When we left Redding, we drove back to San Jose, which is where we spent the rest of our time. I failed in the picture taking area, and don't have photos of much of what we did. But let me say, we had a fun time! Here is a list of some of the fun things we did, but I have no pictures to prove it!

I attended a bridal shower for a friend, Cassie, and was able to see Heather and Maeve, two other girls from my days of working in the youth group at LGCC.

I had lunch with my former co-worker and dear friend, Anne. She is like another grandma to the kids- and we all had fun seeing her.

I had breakfast with some friends from church, Hillary and Kaitlyn, and Kaitlyn's new baby, Logan. Levi and Logan are just a few weeks apart. It was a fun breakfast, but a little crazy with so many kids! (I'll be honest, the babies were perfect. It was more Eliana and Silas- why would they want to sit and eat breakfast when they can run around in a restaurant?!?).

We had lots of fun with our friends, Brandon and Sarah, who we stayed with. We were up many nights talking until the wee hours of the morning. I think once it was 4AM. Yep, we were all tired the next day.

Luke had a day to go down the coast and take pictures with Brandon.

We had dinner with my former boss and great friend, Diane, and her husband, Brian. It was a double date at Santana Row- and a perfect evening of food, ice cream, coffee, catching up, and laughing. 

We ate at In-N-Out 3 times! Yes, it was wonderful. Our second time was in Fairfield, on the way to Redding, and Silas had his first hamburger ever! Memorable. :)

We had more CCC's at the Great Bear then I can count. We shopped at Trader Joe's a couple of times. We ate at Willow Street, one of our favorite restaurants (and a place I worked for many years). We shopped. Luke had Phil's Coffee. We had Sprinkles cupcakes again. We went to our favorite parks. We had a picnic at Vasona with friends and road the train and carousel. We spent time hanging out in Los Gatos. We went to the fountain to play. We visited friends and former co-workers at our old church. We were able to attend the service and worship at our old church- and see many friends and familiar faces. We had Manley's Donuts- more then once! We went and drove through our old apartment complex and tried to explain to Silas why we couldn't go in our old apartment. We spent evenings with friends. We played at the Children's Museum. We picked strawberries at our favorite farm in Watsonville. We went to our favorite grocery store with "the little carts" and got sugar cookies. The kids played with Mr. Mark and Mrs. Patty- friends of ours and surrogate grandparents for the kids. We ate at Pizza My Heart- and got t-shirts. We went to La Villa in Willow Glen and picked up dozens of raviolis to freeze and bring home to Colorado. We went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk- again!

We did so much on our trip and came home needing a vacation to recover from our vacation. But it was SO. MUCH. FUN. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. Because even though we were in California for 13 days, we still didn't get to do all we wanted do and see all the people we wanted to see.

The next few posts will be filled with the pictures we did take of our adventures!


Luke snapped some pictures of the kids the day we left. The sun was high in the sky and it was stinking hot out! Trying to get 5 kids to look at the camera and smile is nearly impossible. Our kids sure love their cousins- we wish we could see them more often!

NorCal: Redding

Disclaimer: I am so behind on blogging right now! And now that I am blogging about our vacation over a month later, I am forgetting details. The rest of these vacation posts will be heavy on the pictures. My vacation blogging will be done in the next day or so. Sorry they aren't super exciting to read, but I am blogging about it capture the memories for us. :)

After we spent one day in San Jose, we hit the road and drove to Redding to visit family. Most of Luke's family lives in that area. His sister, Janelle, and her family came to Redding too- so we were able to see almost everyone. 

We had a great time visiting. We stayed my in-laws house, up in the mountains. Much fun was had- four wheeling, hanging out with cousins, a campfire with s'mores, and of course, lots of eating! We spent time in Redding visiting grandparents and swimming.

Grandpa reading with Silas and Eliana.

Riding the 4 wheeler! 

Our niece, Maggie, who is 4 years old
getting ready to ride the 4 wheeler.
She is hardcore. :)

Eliana swimming.
Cousin Zech swimming.

One day while we were there, we went to Brandy Creek Lake to go swimming. This is a placed that Luke's grandma used to them swimming when they were kids, so it was fun to go back to a place with memories for him.- We had a great time! I love swimming in lakes- and we thought the kids might enjoy it since the waves were a little overwhelming when we were at the ocean.

Eliana- 2 years old

Maggie- 4 years old

Silas- 4.5 years old

Jadon- almost 6 years old

All of the kids with grandma and grandpa!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Santa Cruz Boardwalk: Take One

One of our favorite things to do in the summer during our last year in California was go to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Every Monday and Tuesday night during the summer, all rides are $1. Sodas, hot dogs, and cotton candy are $1 too. Warning: the hot dog tastes like $1- not good. On the other hand, cotton candy?!? Delicious. I always get a bag (or two).

Our Santa Cruz Boardwalk pals are some of our best friends, Brian and Marny, and their two girls, Madison and Reagan (also known as Lala). (Side story: Silas and Reagan are the same age- and best friends. When Reagan was little, she couldn't say "Silas"- so she called him "Lala." Silas evidentally thought, that was what they called each other- so they both call each other "Lala"- and I think it's adorable.) Brian and Marny were high school friends of Luke's- and friends of mine since Luke and I started dating. They are like family- and their girls are like nieces to us.

We had one day in San Jose before we went to Redding to see Luke's family. So we went to Santa Cruz! We met Marny and the girls downtown, and when they kids saw each other, they ran to each other. They hadn't seen each other in over 8 months- and yet it was like no time had passed. They reconnected immediately. We met Brian and grabbed dinner before heading to the Boardwalk.

Our evening at the Boardwalk was great. The kids had a blast going on ride after ride. And the adults had a great time talking and catching up.

Maddy and Levi at dinner

Brian and Marny 

Silas on the Whale ride...

Maddy and Eliana on the Dragons... Maddy
was Eliana's ride buddy for the night.

Reagan and Silas on the Helicopters

SoCal- Part 3

We left Carlsbad late Sunday morning. We decided to stop in Beverly Hills for lunch and cupcakes. And it's always my hope when we go to Beverly Hills that I will see someone famous. (Stupid, I know).

We parked our car and as we were walking down the stairs to the street, we passed a couple. I knew immediately she was someone I had seen. We passed them and I turned around and mouthed to Luke, "She's famous!!" I knew I had seen her in something and I was thinking her name was Amy. Thanks to the data package on Luke's phone, I was able to do a quick search on the internet. And it turned out to be Amy Smart- who I recognized from "Scrubs" and "Rat Race." She was with a man who had a hat on and sunglasses- so we didn't recognize him... As it turns out though, it was her fiancee, Carter Oosterhouse. Enough for celebrity talk...

So most restaurants in Beverly Hills are a little over our price range- and not appropriate for 3 small children. So we grabbed a few slices of pizza at a little pizza place and headed to the real reason we stopped in Beverly Hills. Sprinkles.

Our Beverly Hills destination: Sprinkles!

So many choices!

Top Row: Marshmallow Chocolate and Milk Chocolate
Bottom Row: Two Dark Chocolates

Silas devouring his cupcake...

Enjoying my dark chocolate cupcake...
Poor Levi, someday he will eat yummy food!

Miss Messy Face

And, she's done! 

After our cupcakes, we got back on the road (after a quick trip to Starbuck's for Luke). Our trip from Carlsbad to San Jose should have taken about 8 hours (without any stops). It took us 12.5 hours. We hit some traffic. Besides stopping for lunch and dinner, we stopped two times at Starbuck's, once to feed Levi, once for gas, and once for a bathroom break. That's a total of 7 stops. Yep, it was one long day!