Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Maddie's 16th Birthday & A Busy Weekend

It seemed kind of anticlimactic to celebrate Maddie's birthday yesterday... after hearing about it for so long. And, of course, we're most thankful that Maddie recognizes that we don't have 'P-Diddy money' and wasn't expecting a Maybach or Ferrari in the driveway! She was thankful for getting the keys for her car which she has only been a passenger in thus far. Her Dad also threw in a mini shopping trip to pick up a few outfits for her upcoming Spring Break.

Mad's friends decorated her locker at school and presented her with cookies, a cake and a balloon bouquet. Then, after we had dinner, Hailey stopped by with another cake for Maddie and a beautiful, beautiful necklace designed by one of her Mom's friends. Such a nice day for our girl.

Late Saturday afternoon we all piled in the car and headed to Crystal Cove, which is on the Newport Coast. Maddie needed to take some photos of 'seascapes' for her photography course. We all brought our cameras and got some lovely shots!

After watching the sunset, we headed out to a local restaurant to toast (with our iced teas!) Maddie's birthday. I had taken some time earlier in the day to write a short note to Maddie to slip into her birthday card. I told her how proud I was of her, how much I loved her and how she has brought so much love and joy to me, her Dad and her little sister. I'm still quite emotional from the whole weekend... my beautiful, soft-hearted, intelligent daughter is growing up way too fast. The one thing that I am so thankful for is that she still says, "I love you" to each of us before leaving for school and before going to bed. With teenagers, that's no small thing.

On Friday morning, we had a field trip with Josie's class to a local farm. It's strawberry season here, so that was our mission for the day! We were treated to an educational tour of the farm, where our guide pulled carrots, celery, lettuce and peas right from the ground. The kids all loved munching on the goodies! Then, we descended from the tractor and set about to pick our strawberries. Boy, were they good!

Josie, Lo-Lo and Lo-Lo's Mom, Leah.

Mrs C's Pre-K Class

Showing off the fruits of their labor!

Now, we're preparing for my sister Suzanne and our nephews, Zack and LIam, to arrive on Wednesday. We are so excited that they are spending their Spring Break with us!!

Have a wonderful Easter and a blessed Passover!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Josie Celebrates her 5th Birthday

Yesterday we celebrated Josie's 5th birthday with a small, 'Ariel themed' party at a kids gym owned by her school. We invited all of Josie's classmates from pre-school, ballet friends and neighborhood friends.

It was just the kind of party I like - someone else took care of set-up, clean-up and entertaining the kids!! I also really wanted to just sit back and enjoy this birthday party because once the kids start kindergarten, it seems the parties are all single-sex. I really love the boys at this age - they are so sweet and still like getting hugs & kisses!

Chase, Cole and Casen signal for "Sprite, please."

First, the kids ran around like monkeys to work up an appetite:

Josie gets a helping hand on the zip line.

Then, it was time for pizza and cake:

Josie wears the 'Birthday Princess' tiara given to her by her friend Madison

Blowing out 5 candles!

Yummy cake!

Lots of GREAT presents!!

And, best of all:

Good times with Good Friends!!

Finally, last night I pulled photos from each of Josie's past birthdays. Can't believe how much she has grown!!

1st Birthday:

2nd Birthday:

3rd Birthday:

4th Birthday:

Josie's 5 year check-up is on Tuesday... can't wait to see how much she has actually grown!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yard Work

Ditches for the sprinkler system in the backyard - holes had to be drilled through the block wall.

Last weekend, we started on our first home improvement project in the new house. When we moved in August, the backyard had a small area, about the size of a putting green that was, at one time we assumed, a 'lawn'. Back then, it was just dirt covered by mulch.

With two active dogs, the mulch didn't last long. I raked it all up within 10 days of move-in. It stayed just a patch of dirt until our gardener started the project last weekend. We had a sprinkler system installed in the backyard. It covers the 'putting green' and the planter built in along the back wall of the yard.

The crew prepares the ground for sod while the sprinkler system for the wall planter is installed

The wall planter was filled with these very overgrown 'Lilies of the Nile'. (They are actually quite beautiful, but bloom only once a year!)

The Bougainvilleas along the back wall were secured properly and now can be trained to cover most of the concrete wall

Sadly, this is all the sod it took to landscape the backyard. Big change from the acre I used to mow...

We also had some really, really horrendous succulents (that looked like green crab claws!) pulled out from the side of the house. We had the sprinkler system extended there and had rose bushes (which bloom all year here) and flowering ground cover installed.

Here is the stripped bed with just the roses installed along the top of the slope

I had the gardener plant a lemon tree( I was growing in a container) into this small bed in the yard

This photo, of a lemon blossom, is for my friend Karen. She didn't have great luck growing hers...

Here's the wall planter with sprinklers on and some of the Lilies of the Nile replanted with impatiens

Well, that's one project down - about 4 more major ones to go.....

Friday, March 5, 2010

See This Movie !!

About this time last year, a group of young film makers visited Maddie's high school in Virginia. They showed the students a documentary film entitled "The Human Experience". Maddie came home that day raving about the film and how she was truly moved by it. All the students met the film makers and got a chance to participate in a question and answer session after the showing.

Maddie has followed Grass Roots Films projects ever since. She found out that they were showing "The Human Experience" in Los Angeles last night. She invited her friend, Hailey, and her Mom, Jane, to come see the film with us... a girls night out in Westwood!

I have to tell you that this was an outstanding film. On the surface, it appears to be a film that would be depressing or upsetting. In fact, it was such a joyous and uplifting film! No matter what religion you are, there is such a positive message of love, hope and faith. I am not a 'preachy' kind of person, but I most sincerely encourage any and all of you to see this film. You will really, really, really be glad if you do! The film is opening in limited release next month. In the next few weeks it is being shown in New York, the Fort Worth, TX area, Phoenix, AZ and the Denver, CO area. (Harken Theaters).

Please check out Grass Roots Films and 'The Human Experience' pages on Facebook if you are a member.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, March 1, 2010

CNY Parade in San Francisco

I decided to do a slideshow for all the photos from this weekend - I had a hard time choosing which ones to post!

The weather gods were smiling on us this past weekend! Rain was forecasted, but we had clear skies and mild temperatures. The rain clouds had just cleared as we landed in San Francisco on Friday afternoon. A few ominous clouds hung around, but only added more drama to the skyline as we entered the city. We all just love being in San Francisco! Most of our 'big' family events are held in San Fran - our wedding banquet and Josie's Red Egg and Ginger party- just to name two!

Maddie's friend, Hailey, came with us. It was her first time visiting the city. Trying to squeeze in all the things on the girls 'to see and do' list was an impossible task. We did, however, give it the ole' college try!

Friday night we walked about 10 blocks in the SoMo district to get to Rocco's Cafe. James is a Food Network junkie and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is his absolute favorite. His only wish for the weekend was to eat at one of the establishments featured by Guy on the show. We were greeted at the door by Don, the owner and seated right away. We took a look at the menu and found lots of things we would have loved to try... but, it was a Lenten Friday - No Meat!! We started with some calamari, which was very good. Maddie and I each ordered the Eggplant Parmesan, Josie and Hailey had pasta and James had Grilled Polenta with roasted vegetables. The desserts are made by Don's Mom, so I had saved room! Big disappointment to find out that Mom had only cooked pies that day. I don't like pie. At all. Oh well, maybe next time.

We were up and out early on Saturday morning. We took Hailey to visit the sea lions and seals on Pier 37 (39?). Walked around Fishermans Wharf. The older girls visited the wax museum while Josie and I enjoyed the beautiful tulips that seemed to be bursting from every container on our route.

We visited the street fair in Chinatown for a good part of the afternoon. There was music, martial arts demonstrations, and hundreds of booths. Most popular was the Home Depot booth where the kids got to color their own tile and were given a birdhouse kit to construct on their own. We met up with my brother and sister-in-law, Rich and Ivy, and got to spend quality time with our nieces, Alicia and Zoe.

Finally, we staked our claim on a piece of curb on Market Street in preparation for the parade. I was able to get some good shots while the light was still good. Of course, the illuminated parade floats came at the end, when there was little light left on the parade route. Getting photos was a challenge. It was the first time any of us had seen the parade, so we really enjoyed it! Some of the performers were just excellent. It seems that nearly every organization in San Francisco has a lion dance team. Even the Police and Fire Departments!

After the parade we grabbed dinner across from the hotel - the kids were very chilly. (I think they are getting too used to the Southern California climate - it was only 50 degrees!) James and I took advantage of having two 'babysitters' and spent some time sharing a drink on the 39th floor lounge - it had awesome views of the city. Just beautiful!

We were back in Orange County by 11AM Sunday, and back to our weekend routine of errands and housework. Oh well, everyday can't be a holiday! But, we're thankful we got to share this new adventure with the kids!