Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 - Off to a Great Start!

The first 3 weeks of the New Year have brought a bounty of goodness.

The photo above is one of the Christmas cookies we made while the girls were on Christmas break. I kept Josie and her girlfriends busy for a full week by having them first make the batter for the cookies. Two days of measuring, mixing and licking the beaters clean of the batter. A third day was spent baking all the cookies. The rest of time was spent decorating about 10 dozen sugar cookies and packing them up for family & friends. The girls were just thrilled to show off their accomplishments. I think they also finally understood the "It is better to give than receive" concept of the holidays!

The beginning of January also brought a bountiful harvest from my lemon tree in the backyard. It was the first thing I planted when we moved here. Although I did have a few lemons on the tree last year, this year was a bumper crop! So, what does one do when handed a bunch of lemons? Why, make lemonade of course! We have been enjoying fresh-squeezed lemonade these past few weeks and from the looks of it, we'll be enjoying it for months to come!

Here's my tree after I picked about a dozen lemons from it:

And here's Josie showing off a few of the bigger lemons we grew:

We hit the after Christmas sales in a big way. I had been eying a new sectional sofa for the family room since late August, watching the price go up and then down. When it went on sale again on December 26th, we grabbed it! We purchased it from Macys and they delivered it 3 days later. Excellent service from everyone we dealt with - especially the delivery guys who were so efficient and courteous.

We were thrilled to welcome my parents here in California on January 7th. We've been looking forward to their visit since we left their place at the beach in early August of last year. The girls are so happy to have their grandparents on hand to spoil them rotten. Josie made no secret of her love of Grandmom's pancakes, so she had them nearly every morning of my parents two week visit! James just loves my Mom's cooking, so he was in heaven the whole time, too. Maddie and her Pop are as thick as thieves, so she was more than happy to have him insisting on his kiss goodbye every morning before leaving for school. I just love having my parents close by to talk to and relax with... I miss being only a few hours drive from them.

My Mom and her constant companions (Casey & Carson) settled in nicely on the new sofa:

Carson picked his favorite spot for working on the iPad :-)

While my Dad was occupied with the NFL Playoff games, Mom and I took in a few of the local attractions. San Juan Capistrano is just a few minutes from our house, so we headed there. We walked around town and then toured the Mission SJC, which was just wonderful. It was the first time either of us had visited the Mission and we were really impressed with the historic content as well as the beautiful grounds. Here are a few photos of the Mission:

The Serra Chapel

My beautiful Mom!

The ruins of the first Mission built on the site

We were lucky enough to have another family member in town this past week. My brother-in-law Greg, husband of my older sister, Suzanne. He was in town for a trade show and was able to join us for dinner on Thursday - which also happened to be his birthday! Of course, we HAD to have a birthday cake for him and you can imagine my utter delight when I found out that his favorite kind of cake was LEMON!!! I made both the batter and the icing from scratch using my own freshly-picked lemons! It was Greg's first visit to our home here in CA. I'm glad we were able to share his birthday with him.

Josie helped her Godfather, Uncle Greg, blow out his candles!

Yesterday, James and I took my parents to walk the beach that is about 15 minutes from our house. Another beautiful day to take in the beautiful scenery. We were also hoping to catch a glimpse of the pod of Orcas that were spotted off the coast that morning. Didn't see any whales, but we did have a nice time:

Mom & Dad near Dana Point

Dad at the Ocean Institute

Mom& Dad just south of Laguna Beach

As I mentioned earlier, my Mom & Dad just love indulging the girls while they are visiting. Josie's only request (besides pancakes!) was having a Family Game Night. So, last night we had a marathon Monopoly game! Josie was the banker, James and I were a team, Pop & Grandmom were a team, and Nyra and Josie played as individuals. Surprisingly, the girls were really into it and the game lasted over two hours. Both the little ones started getting sleepy. It's no wonder - they had spent the earlier part of the day playing on the Wii that Santa brought for Christmas. Just Dance 3 is a mother's dream come true... they totally exhaust themselves and bedtime is a breeze!

Family Game Night

Josie and Nyra shakin' it with the Wii !

That brings me up to date with all the excitement going on here. I hope everyone has had a great start to the New Year! Drop a line and let me know how y'all are doing!