Thursday, December 13, 2007

What I love/hate about this Christmas Season

What I love about Christmas this year:

Not shoveling snow.
Going to Utah to see snow.
Caroling without freezing.
Christmas shopping online.
My kids wanting to be good so Santa will bring them a present.
That Ben and I didn't fight about the Christmas tree this year.
Christmas Pixies: surprising a family in our ward every couple of days with Christmas treats, messages dinner, etc. and the way my kids giggle when we knock on the door and bolt.
Having Jacob ask me a million questions about Christmas, baby Jesus, the origins of Santa, etc.
Ian and Ben singing in the Christmas Choir Festival.
The smell of gingerbread.
Cadbury's Christmas balls!

What I hate about Christmas this year:

Putting plastic ornaments on the top half of the Christmas tree because I have a one and a half year old.
Already gaining weight because I am craving treats and candy.
That my pumpkins are still out on the porch.
That Ben's work Christmas party is scheduled at the same time as our Relief Society Christmas dinner.
Having my advent wreath be used as a frisbee.
Sooooo many ads in my mailbox.
Having a kid at church tell Ian that Santa is fake.
Ian's teacher telling him that Santa is not Christian.
The post office.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Family Pictures

We had a lot of fun taking family pictures this year! Not usually the case. We even got a couple of great shots of the whole family. (You'll just have to wait to see it in your Christmas cards!) Here are some of our favorite shots. Thanks to Luci, our photographer. She made it quick and painless.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 2007!

We went to Bakersfield for Thanksgiving again this year. Third year running! We all love seeing great-grandpa and grandma Richards, our cousins and second cousins and going to dinner at Uncle Sam and Aunt Kathy's. Here are some of the highlights:

Uncle Sam baked the yams at 500 degrees for 45 minutes. The marshmallows were black, but the rest was delicious and caramelized! Mmmm...

My dinner assignment was rolls, which I stressed about all week, since I don't (or didn't) have a great recipe for rolls. The one I used to make in Utah has never really worked here in California. Everything is always home-made and delicious at the Bakersfield Thanksgiving, so I couldn't just cop out and get rolls from Costco! I was feeling the pressure. I tried a new recipe (Thanks Amber!) and the rolls turned out fantabulous and everyone loved them! Grandma said to me on the way home from Uncle Sam's that she was impressed that I made home-made rolls and that she thought I could just go to Costco to get rolls since we had a three hour drive!

And now for the kids' take on Thanksgiving...

Ian liked playing with his cousins and in grandma's yard and picking her beautiful roses.
(although he looks pretty UNhappy in this picture.)

Kate took a liking to grandpa Richards. She held his hand for a little stroll outside and went to sit on his lap a couple of times. He was pretty tickled.

She also enjoyed the jelly belly appetizers -- a little too much!

The biggest hit for Jacob was great-grandma's "fluffy" potty. He cracked up every time he went.

Huzzah for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't try this at home

I spent the other night blowdrying Ben's year books. Why?

Because they got wet. Why?

Because they were in a box in the garage which got thoroughly soaked by the water coming out of the water heater. Why?

My landlord told me to drain the water heater. We were running out of hot water at an alarming rate every day. He made it sound easy enough--put a hose on the drain valve, open the drain valve, turn off the water to the water heater-- that I could do it by myself. In theory, the water should drain out, along with any sediment that may have collected over the years. I'm pretty handy, as girls go, and Ben was out of town, so I tried it. I was actually successful. I swear, no more water was coming out of the hose when I checked! Then I tried to get the hose off. It was stuck on there pretty hard, so I had to get a wrench. Suddenly the valve popped out of the water heater completely, and a strong spray of water hit me in the stomach, soaking me in seconds. Holding in the screams, I tried screwing the valve back in (it's still attached to the darn hose), saying a lot of silent prayers and spraying water all over the contents of the garage, including the box of Ben's yearbooks. I finally got the drain valve back on. Turns out I don't know the difference between the water shut-off valve and the gas shut-off valve. Oops.

I felt a lot better when the plumber came the next day and the drain valve popped off for him, too. At least I didn't swear like he did.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Many Dresses of Kate

I have been on a mission to find the perfect dress for Kate for the holidays and family pictures. I posted the prices because I am a bargain hunter!

Here are the choices:

Scalloped Brown Wool with Pink Bow - H&M $16.90

Red Velvet with Satin Bow - Target $11.99

Brown Tiered Ruffle -Children's Place $11.99

Red Bow Cardigan -Children's Place $9.99
White Eyelet Lace Skirt - H&M $12?

What do you think? Vote in the poll!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Daylight Savings

I have a real reason to love daylight savings time this year. Yes, many of you got to sleep in an hour, but I have missed out on that benefit for years now. My kids' body clocks take a while to adjust. (It's Wednesday and they are still getting up at the 5 o'clock hour!)

I started swimming this year with Audra and (sometimes) Marea. We swim in an outdoor pool, because you can do that in California. However, the early mornings have been getting colder and colder and darker and darker. Although it can be amazing to watch the sunrise, it has been increasingly more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and even more difficult to plunge my body into the water while it's dark.
But this morning was different. It felt at least ten degrees warmer and it was light!
So here's to daylight savings.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Just a quick post so you can see the kids in their Halloween costumes.

Ian and Jacob came up with the idea to be the Super Mario Brothers, Mario and Luigi.

Kitty-Kate and her friend Karen as a matching pink poodle.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire Update

The air quality has been terrible all week. Our throats and eyes are itching, I feel sick to my stomach often and my lungs feel weird. We are supposed to stay inside and refrain from outdoor exercise. I was seriously delusional on Monday morning, probably because it was 6:15am when I got up to go swimming. I kind of noticed the bad air on my way to the pool across the street, but I was determined to swim since I had already gotten up. However, the pool was filled with nasty black ash and debris! No way I was getting in there. In fact, everything outside is covered in debris and ash from the fires.

This is my back patio.

The sky seriously looks apocalyptic. An eerie feeling comes over you when you look at the dark skies and red sun.
We just found out that Ian's school is canceled tomorrow. They closed all schools in the Irvine School District. All soccer practices and games have been canceled and our Stake Trunk or Treat might be, too! The Irvine/Santiago Fire, which is closest to us, is 30% contained, which is worse than the 50% containment earlier in the week! It is mostly in the mountains.
The good news is that the wind seems to be shifting and we are supposed to be getting some clearer air from the direction of the ocean.

This picture was taken on Wednesday Morning.

Thank you for the many phone calls and expressions of concern for our safety. We are fine and feel very loved!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fires in California

You may have heard that our great state of California is in a state of emergency due to several fires in various areas fueled by Santa Ana wind conditions-hot winds coming from the east rather than the usual breeze coming from the ocean on the west. Here is a picture courtesy of NASA. (Marea, I pulled this from your blog.)

We had a fire in Irvine, too, about 3 miles from our house.

Here is a view from our neighborhood on Sunday evening.

We smelled fire outside during dinner around 6pm. Then Ben noticed that Kate and I were wearing matching outfits -isn't it weird how that happens without any planning- and we had to go take a picture outside. It was darker than usual and we were shocked to see a huge plume of smoke nearby.

No homes were burned in our city, but it has been very smoky. The air is horrible and the health department has advised everyone to stay inside. Some Irvine schools are closed but Ian's school has remained open, although they have had indoor recess and lunch so far this week.

We have stayed inside with the exception of school and preschool and a necessary Costco run today. While I was dragging the gigantic haul inside, Kate made quick work of these bagels. Don't know how she took those three bites so fast. Hope that plastic was good!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Back from Hawaii

ALOHA! We spent a fabulous week on Oahu with Ben's two older brothers and their wives. Here are some of the highlights.

At the Hawaii Laie Temple, we learned about some of the native plants, the sister missionaries wore ankle length Hawaiian dresses and sandals (send me to that mission!) and there was a tree with big eaves you could sing (Umh, I mean leaves you could sign-gotta love computer spell check). Legal Mormon graffiti.

At sunset beach: we tried boogie boarding here, but it was tough! You had to be out pretty far to catch a good wave, usually in very deep water. I caught one good wave!

Eating Shaved Ice at Matsumoto's in Haleiwa: Ben got cherry with sweetened condensed milk, sounds sick, but it's de-lish. I got pina colada, which tasted nothing like pineapple or coconut but was tasty nonetheless. I love that it was "local fare."

Shark's Cove on the North Shore: this was our first attempt at snorkeling. Since it was too choppy that day to go in the deeper part of the cove (on the right) we ended up in the very shallow waters on the left. Good for first time snorkelers, but not very exciting. I saw about 4 fish and a sea cucumber.

Shopping at the swap meet in Honolulu: a shopper's dream! Cheap stuff at cheap prices. Get your fake wooden sandals, t-shirts and jewelry at rock-bottom prices.

At the Polynesian Cultural Center with Mike, Heather (Ben, me) Dave and Kristyn. These crazy Maori girls practically dared us to get these tattoos and so we did. The boys got picked to participate in the Maori warrior Welcome dance, probably because of their manly tattoos.We also practiced swinging poi balls (I am sooo uncoordinated), tried some Tahitian dancing-the hip shaking kind- and made some little fish out of coconut leaves with the Samoans.

Sand Crab at our beach in Hauula: this little guy reminded me of Sponge Bob's crabby burger boss. And he can dig a mean hole pretty fast.

Swimming until dark at Waimea Bay(by the light of the MOON): the waves came in and then right back out again because the beach was so steep. The back and forth motion made for some great body surfing.

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay: this place had great snorkeling. Lost of coral reefs and plenty of fish. We hoped to see some sea turtles, but no luck!

Sunrise from our beach in Hauula: We watched the sun rise a couple of mornings at around 6:15am. We had some serious jet lag the whole week. Ben and I did see a sea turtle here, but only his head, sticking out of the water a couple of times.

Searching for LOST sites: we went to Mokuleia Beach where the pilot episode was filmed, you know, the one where they crash and the plane is all over the beach and parts of it blow up, etc.
We also went on a long hike near Turtle Bay Resort to find the banyan tree where Kate first hid in the pilot episode, but turns out it looks just like every other banyan tree on the island.

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor -this site was built right over the sunken ship. It marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors killed on the USS Arizona during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 by Japanese imperial forces and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oʻahu was the action that led to United States involvement in World War II. (Thanks Wikipedia)

Our last day in Hawaii. We had a relaxing wonderful time with great company!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Dieting Questions

As I get ready to go on my trip to *HAWAII* and am making the last minute futile attempts of losing 10 pounds before Saturday, here are some important questions:

Do I gain more weight eating a package of M&M's all at once or spreading it out over a week?

What time of day is the best time to eat something unhealthy and get away with it- in other words, should I have cookies for breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Celery = healthy
Frosting = unhealthy
Celery + frosting = zero, because they cancel each other out?

How many M&M's can I substitute for one palm-of-the-hand size piece of chicken?

I read an article that you can lose weight by laughing:
Do I really have to laugh or does fake laughing count?

You're not supposed to skip is it better to eat cake for breakfast or nothing at all and risk not getting your metabolism started for the day?

You should get adequate rest, so should I sleep an extra hour after I've been up with the baby at night instead of going to work out?

All important questions.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kate can walk!

After a long "Cleopatra stage"- being carried around, although knowing how to walk - her majesty has learned to walk by herself! We are thrilled. Those 27 pounds aren't easy on the arms.
(Notice the healthy bribe I used.) (DON'T notice the messes in the background.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Change is Good

I like changing things up. Have you noticed? So I'll be changing the look of my blog every once in a while, when it suits me. I got this template at Check it out!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jacob Starts Preschool

Jacob started preschool today. Here are a few facts about Jacob I filled out on his preschool application this morning.

Favorite food: watermelon
Favorite toy: light saber
Favorite movie: Star Wars
Favorite book: Jake the Philharmonic Dog

A Jacob Quote:

Last year Jacob developed an avid interest in dad and work. What was he doing? Why did he stay all day? Why did he have to go every day? Why couldn't he take us to Disneyland every day? After many explanations, he finally settled on a good answer.
Dad is at work to get money for us. Apparently it is in a drawer and it takes dad all day to get it out of the drawer and get it home. With this money he buys us all the things we need, like a house.

Today, dad stayed home sick from work. This morning, while dad was still in bed, Jacob yelled from downstairs:

"Daa-aaad. You better go to woooo-oork! Or else we have to sleep in the streeee-eet. We need money for our house todaaaaay!"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ian's First Goal

Ian's soccer team this fall is the Orange Tigers. He scored his first goal, the only goal of the game for his team! He was very excited! Although we have no picture of the actual goal, here are some highlights from the game and an exclusive interview with Ian.

What a week!

Turns out we have this:

not this:

So four times a day we all take this:

Kate feels like this:

and Jake like this:

I have changed about 400 of these:

Done almost 50 of these:

and have even had to rent one of these:

Not our best week ever. But maybe I'll lose those last stubborn 10 lbs. before I go to Hawaii! Always look on the bright side.