Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bay's Birthday Adventure

So a little overdue, but still noteworthy was Bayden's Birthday adventure in San Francisco. San Francisco happens to be one of my favorite places in the world! Mark was pulling all nighters all week and wouldn't be home on his big day, so I decided to grab the kiddies and head into the city for a day full of fun! Our good friends the Millett's joined us for the fun. I have to say, I love going on adventures with my kids. Everyone is so happy! I'm happy to be doing something different and they are happy to be out and about experiencing new things, which makes for a very happy day!

My kids always seem to track down cool things to buy.

We started out our adventures in Chinatown. We really wanted to go to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. We drove all over Chinatown and asked several people for directions to Ross Alley where it is located. One nice little lady told me to look for the store with the pink bags. After driving around for 10 minutes more, we discovered that every store in Chinatown has pink bags!!!!! After 1 hour we finally found it. Here is a little tip for anyone interested. Ross Alley is not labeled with a normal street sign. Ross Alley is only labeled on a small brick on the ground as you enter the alley. NICE. If you blink you will actually miss the factory. I had visions of grandeur that were quickly squelched as we walked into a small store (a.k.a. factory) about the size of my kitchen to watch some sweet little Chinese men make cookies. We were in and out in less than 5 minutes. Actually, we went back for 10 more minutes because they had a bathroom that we could all use for free.

We actually had to pay $.50 to take this picture. See sign in rear.

Do you see all of the pink bags. I'm such a sucker, my kids are the only ones with purchases.

Across from Ross alley we stopped for a little Dim Sum at a great little place called Delicious Dim Sum. I have to say it definitely lived up to its name. It was so yummy! The kids preferred the Chinese Candy Store and of course we had to pick up our token fans and other cheap souvenirs. After Chinatown we headed over to the secret slides of San Francisco.

This was our first time there and I have to say, it is a new favorite. We all laughed and squealed for a good hour and a half as we went up and down the slides. At one point, I had to run to the car a few blocks away for a diaper and it just made me smile to hear the kids belly laughing 2 blocks away. I just had to stop and listen to it for a few moments. I felt like a little kid again. Here are a few fun pics from the slides. You can see we caught a lot of air and it hurt if you got too much as you can see from the expression on my friend, Denise's face.

McCall trying to maintain her balance.

Carson and Calvin racing. Carson flew off the slides more times than I could count.

Is that a happy birthday face or what?


Next stop is a must every time we go to the city, Pier 39. We hit our favorite stops, Boudin Bread Bakery for our chili bread bowl, Hook and Cook's for popcorn shrimp and then further down the pier for mini-donuts and crepes as we watch the sea lions at play.

Loving the Chili bowls.

Of course Bay refused to eat anything healthy, finally settling for donuts.

Love those silly Sea Lions. Seriously they never cease to entertain for hours!

Bay and Gracie soaking up all of the entertainment at the pier.

Next we headed over to Lombard street and then down to Union Square. We got to see some really cool art galleries as we headed to the St. Francis Westin to ride the glass elevators. If you haven't been in the glass elevators, go at night, so you can see all of the city lit up. We ended up going up to the 32nd floor and down to the lobby about 10 times. Again our elevator was filled with laughter especially when Denise got out to take a picture and the doors shut and we had to go all the way down to the Lobby before we could go back up to floor 32 to retrieve her. All that riding was almost enough to make me feel a little queasy after all the food I had eaten.

This is when we lost Denise, you can see her reflection as the doors are closing.

Of course no trip would be complete without a world famous hot fudge sundae from Ghiradelli square (I know we do all of the tourists stuff over and over again). Pretty much we eat our way through San Francisico every time we go. We headed back in our cars to Ghiradelli square. Bayden was so happy when everyone there sang Happy Birthday to him. He was even happier with his very own hot fudge sundae as you can see from the picture below. I got the kids all loaded up about 9:15 and headed down the Embarcadero. At 9:17 my three youngest were fast asleep. I think they had a fun day!

One happy two year old. Please note the LARGE empty sundae cup (no help from mama)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bayden is TWO!

I know, say it isn't so, Bayden is TWO. I can't believe my baby is already that old. We had a great day yesterday celebrating his special day in San Francisco. I will post the pics and the details of our day in the next few days. Just wanted to let Bayden know how much he is loved. I can't possibly limit the things I love about him to only two, so I will just list the top ten things that make him so sweet and loveable.

1. I love how he rubs my ear lobe and sucks his thumb when he gets tired.

2. I love how he likes to cuddles with both of his blankies after he wakes up. He likes me to lay down on the bed in his room next to him and cuddle him...definitely the best part of my day.

3. I love how excited he gets about chocolate (definitely my child). He can't really talk yet, but one of the 5 words he does have in his vocabulary is tandy a.k.a. candy. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

4. I love it when he puts his right hand in his pocket and swings his left arm as he walks triumphantly around with a huge grin.

5. I love his cheezy smile and his very playful personality. He already has a sense of humor and loves to make us laugh.

6. I love that he hates the many doctor appointments as much as I hate going to them and that he has no qualms about expressing it. (He expresses it through full on out-loud screaming, where I just silently wish I could scream!)

7. I love that he is completely obsessed with balls and anything associated with them.

8. I think it is funny that he is also obessed with the refrigerator and will scream for me to open it. He then just likes to stand there playing with the light and looking at all of the different food. He seriously will stand there for 10-15 minutes.

9. He loves to shower. Yes, if I really need to get something done, I will just put him in the shower with the squeegy and he has a grand old time for about 30 minutes. Too bad we go to meters next month, that will definitely limit his shower time.

10. I love his determined spirit. You talk about a strong will and this guy has got it. He doesn't give up-EVER! This has been a great benefit to him, but if I'm being totally honest it can also be EXTEMELY frustrating as well. It is a good thing he is really cute because it saves him.

Well little buddy we all love you so much. You got so many hugs and kisses yesterday from your brothers and sisters and you were eating it up the whole time. You love being in the spotlight and you are definitely a bright spot in our lives. We think we have already experienced the terrible two's with you, but if that wasn't it will you please pass them by! Oh one more thing we love about you is your sweet little blonde curls. We love you!

The dust has settled...kind of

I love the illustration on this one.

Parker was trying to kill 2 birds with one stone on this one.

McCall was totally opposed to Root Beer Floats. Parker lobbied hard
and his drink ended up winning the race.

I love the spelling on this one.

We survived the election of 2008! It has been a crazy political season the past 4 months, especially here in California. Our family had the great opportunity to get more involved with politics this election than others in the past. We got to host a campaign kick-off party at our home for our good friend who was running for the SMUD board of directors. We also got to participate a lot in the Prop 8 campaign. It was a great learning experience for our entire family, but also very exhausting. I'm happy it is over and that for the most part the dust has started to settle (at least here in our little town). I'm happy that there are no more phone calls to be made, no more checks to write, no more door hangers to hang and no more signs stolen from our yard (we finally had to resort to hanging it in our front window). I'm happy that even though neighbors and friends can have opposing political signs in their yards, that we can still be friends! I'm happy that we can celebrate our similarities and accept each others opinions although they may not be our own. It has been disappointing to me that this has not been the case throughout all of California and that individuals are targeting others for the pain and
disappointment that they feel. It is a shame that people can't agree to disagree peacefully. Oh well enough of my soap box, I have to let it go.

Despite all of the drama , last Tuesday was actually a great day! Not only did we have the national and local campaigns taking place, but we also had our little election day dinner vote to take care of. Last weekend the kids all nominated items they wanted for dinner in 6 different categories. They spent most of the day on Saturday creating campaign signs and hanging them everywhere throughout the house. When they woke up on Tuesday, they had to cast their vote for dinner that evening. Later in the day we were able to take the kids to the polling place and show them how to vote and what it was all about. Later that evening they got the results from our family vote and we had a great election night dinner. They got to see how important one vote is and how important it is to vote! We had such a fun night together. Here is a copy of their nominees. Since we were having Carson's teacher over for dinner, I was very nervous what would win. Luckily Obama's Orange Chicken won! Mark and I had a good laugh creating the ballot.

Election Dinner 2008
Please circle one in each category
May the best food win!!!
Peaches for Prop 4
Bushes strawberries
Palin Pears
Bahouth Blueberries
Washington Watermelon
Schwarzenegger’s Celery & dip
Kevin Johnson’s Corn
Barbara Boxer Broccoli
Main Entree
Obama’s Orange Chicken
Prop 8 Pizza
Harry Reid Hot Dogs
Biden Burritos
White “Condoleezza” Rice
McCain Mashed Potatoes
Gutierrez Garlic Bread
Cheney’s Chips
Dave Cox’s Chocolate Cake
Clinton’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kennedy Cupcakes
Orange Juice
Mitch McConnel’s Milk
Romney’s Rootbeer Floats

Just as we were finishing dinner the newscasters started calling the election in favor of Barack Obama. We got to listen to John McCain's very gracious speech. I thought he did a fantastic job. In fact, I didn't care for him much until I heard his speech that night and then I really liked him. We also got to listen to Obama's eloquent acceptance speech. I thought it was awesome to watch history being made and to see how happy so many Americans are! Again, I didn't really care for him that much either, but I came away feeling a bit more optimistic after his speech. I also just thought the whole moment was magical and you couldn't help but feel moved by the whole thing. We headed down to our friend's house later on to wait as the precincts reported and the numbers rolled in on several propositions and more specifically his race. Although, our good friend didn't win, we were so proud of him. He ran a very honest and positive campaign. No mudslinging! Our kids were totally into the campaign, but we eventually got them into bed around 11:00. I was so anxious to hear the results on things, I woke up three times in the night unable to sleep.
I think one of the best parts of my day happened at the polling place. I saw this couple come out and take a picture in front of the vote sign. I stopped and chatted with them for a minute and found out they were so excited because this was their first time voting as US citizens! I loved the enthusiasm they had for the whole experience and it made me so grateful to live in this great country where I have so many wonderful freedoms. That sweet couple made me realize that I often take this blessings for granted and that I need to be more appreciative for these blessings and to teach my children to be grateful for them too.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween Wrap Up

Picking pumpkins, Bay wanted nothing to do with the picking or the picture.

Family night in our garage, Pumpkin Carving.

We have been running crazy here the past 10 days, but had to share a few of our favorite Fall traditions.

First, Crazy Hair Day!!! This is a little tradition started about 4 years ago by Mark and our other soccer coach, Sean. Every year on the Saturday before Halloween all of the boys on both Parker's and Carson's team come to the game with crazy hair. The kids LOVE being able to choose their crazy hair and I love looking at the astonished faces of the unsuspecting families of the opposing team :-) They always look at us kind of weird, trying to figure out if we always let our children do their hair in such a funky fashion or if it is a one time affair. By the time they see Mark and Sean, well let's just say the looks on their faces are priceless. This year did not dissapoint!

Parker sporting a blue & green mohawk
Of course Gracie had to be a part of the Crazy Hair action.
Mark's 2007 hair (my personal favorite)

2008 had a more Dr. Seuss feel

It is hard to see, but Carson went for all green this year.

Last week we had to squeeze in all of our traditions because Mark had been working a lot of long hours earlier in the month. On Monday night we had a bunch of families over to carve pumpkins. Last week we also got to head out to the Pumpkin Patch! We tried a new one this year and it was so much fun! We went with our good friends and fellow soccer coach the Ellenbergers. The kids were having so much, that we couldn't get them to leave. They had slides and old barns for the kids to play in. There was a fun little place called Coyote Mountain with huge long slides and then a place to pan for gold (really just marbles). Next we headed over to the corn maze. It was a pretty good size one and there were fun trivia questions for the kids to find and try to answer. Then of course there was the train and the actual pumpkin picking (that is the reason we came right?). We topped it all off with a delicious carmel and m&m covered apple. We stopped at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants on the way home. By the time we rolled into our driveway we had some pretty sleepy and very dirty kids!
Parker loved this slide
Bayden lost in the corn maze.
Carson and Bayden got a kick out of the petting zoo
Did I mention my kids really loved this slide...Gracie too!
Panning for marbles. Do you know that 5 kids can pan about 237 marbles in 1/2 an hour? Did you know that we got to bring them all home? Did you know they end up scattered all over the house and in tiny children's mouths. Did I mention, I hate marbles!!!!
All the kiddos waiting at the Train Depot
Bayden wasn't feeling the love when it came time to pick pumpkins.

Of course, Carson was and ended up with more than one at the checkout.
The girlies
The next night was our ward Trunk or Treat. For some reason most of our pictures turned out fuzzy (I still can't figure out why). It was a cold wet night, so we did the parade in the gym, but the weather cooperated enough for us to go outside and Trunk or Treat for a good 30 minutes and then it was back into the gym for treats and a warm dry place to chat. Earlier in the day Carson had his Scarecrow day in Kindergarten. Since we aren't allowed to dress in costumes on Halloween at our school, they allow the Kindergartners to dress as scarecrows one day (PC, but boring).

Carson and his friend Lizzy.
As promised the Man in the Yellow Hat and Curious George (too bad I couldn't find yellow knickers! Mark is still breathing a huge sigh of relief)
It was all about the candy for this little bunny.
McCall and her good friend Rizal
Parker and his good friend Ryan.
Of course Friday night was Halloween. We had a great time at the Ellenberger's halloween party. We had a yummy dinner and then roamed the streets for two hours trick or treating. The older kids were extremely patient with the little kids who were done after 6 houses. I ended up carrying Carson the rest of the evening. It was the best work out I've had in months because their neighborhood is full of hills and Carson is no bean pole. We returned to our neighborhood around 8:30 where Parker and McCall were able to go out for another hour and test McCall's 5th grade Teachers "Maximize your Trick or Treating Candy Theory". I would say his theory worked and we got way too much candy.

Perhaps the best treat of the weekend was waking up to flooded soccer fields on Saturday morning, so all three of our games were cancelled. Don't get me wrong, I love watching my kids play soccer, but we have been playing since the August and it was great to have a break. We ended up hitting the movies instead, HSM3 (a little on the cheesy side, but the popcorn was great!) Now we are all recovering from our sugar comas as Mark is back to working very LONG LONG LONG hours.