Sunday, February 1, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday, Ben!

Happy 7th birthday, buddy! I am so happy to have you as my son. You make us smile every day with your happy spirit and easy-going nature.

Here's all about you this year:

You like being cozy. You will wrap yourself up in a blanket and sit on top of our heater vent, soaking in the warm air. 

You usually sleep with a few blankets on, and you pull one over your head, so that it's hard to find you in the sea of blankets in your bed.

When people meet you, the most common thing they observe about you is that you are so sweet. You have a way of being interested in people and making them feel appreciated and comfortable. 

You love your sisters. You'll do just about anything to make them laugh. You love to play with Lucy, who especially appreciates your antics. 

You recently started reading chapter books. But your favorite thing to read is Garfield comics.

You love playing with Legos. You make creative and funny scenes using your Legos.

You love sports, and you're naturally amazing at them. You can pick up a ball and score a basket, make a goal, hit a bat, even if you'd never done it before. In Taekwondo a few weeks ago you performed an almost-perfect flying roundhouse kick, after just watching your teacher's demonstration. 

We love you Ben! We can't wait to see what this new year brings you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Visiting Philadelphia

The boys and I visited Philadelphia for a few days in January. I built in a few extra days to my trip while visiting my sister so we could explore the city and soak in some history. I have to say it was so much fun to have the boys all to myself, without the distractions of home. I was able to give them my undivided attention for five whole days, and we got to see some pretty great things. 

At the airport, too early in the morning.

Liberty Bell

Inside Independence Hall, where the Constitutional Convention met and where the Constitution was eventually signed. 

Outside Independence Hall. This was near the end of our morning of trekking around the city for miles and the boys were cold and pretty unhappy by this point!

The Franklin Institute, a science museum similar to The Exploratorium. We spent almost all day here!

The giant heart at the Franklin Institute.

Meeting up friends from my online playgroup for Tommy's birth month. These boys' mama and I have "known" each other for 9 years!

Philly at night. 

Fun in the hotel hot tub.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meeting My Sister

I have a sister. Because we share a rather difficult mother, we grew up never knowing each other. I met her once when I was in kindergarten and she was a college student. It was a six hour drive one way to meet her, and I don't remember much about the experience, besides some tension that was obvious even to a 5 year old. But I do remember being so excited about meeting my sister and telling all my classmates about it. Then I never saw her again. 

Fast forward to last year. My sister contacted me through Facebook in the early summer and we began to write each other and talk on the phone. We decided to meet the following summer where she and her family would come out to CA to meet up but I didn't want to wait that long! So I planned a trip for me and the boys to visit her after the holidays. 

It was really great to meet my sister. To fill in the gaps of since-forgotten childhood questions and to gain some understanding about my own experience with our mom. To see some of my own traits and quirks in another person (probably thanks to our shared, yet separate experience of growing up with our mom). My boys and her two kids got along really well. Yay for new cousins!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

The boys would tell you that this was the Best Christmas Ever. As always, they received only three gifts, but they were well thought out and much loved by the boys! I have to admit that the girls got a few more than three gifts each, but I justify that by telling myself that we needed more toddler girl toys. 

It's become a tradition for Mark and the boys to set off rockets sometime around Christmas day. This year they went to our local high school's field to set off their rockets on Christmas Eve.

In the evening we went to our church's Christmas Eve service. It was simple and beautiful as always. After church we got Chinese takeout, had our final family advent devotion, then opened stockings.

On Christmas morning we opened all our gifts and then hung around the house in our PJs while the kids enjoyed all their new things. Lucy especially loved her new keyboard and the boys spent a few hours building their new Lego sets. Then we went to the playground so they could try out their new scooters. While we were there we met up with a family we keep seeing around town (playgrounds, library, etc). My boys and the other boy (K) have always really hit it off well together, so all the boys were very excited to see each other. They begged if he could come over for the afternoon, and to their amazement, both moms agreed. So K spent the afternoon at our house. 

In the late afternoon (after we dropped K back at his house) we went to our dear friends' home for dinner, movies, and board games. It was a great ending to a wonderful day!  

Tommy and Ben got blow-up boxing gloves in the stockings, so they passed the early part of Christmas morning (as they were waiting for the Official Gift-Opening Time to come) beating each other up. 

Baby X with her new walking toy. Hopefully this will help her gain some balance and strength so she can start walking soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Season Fun

This has been a fun Christmas season! We took off the whole month of December from school so we could have more time to relax and do Christmassy things. Our tradition has been to sit down together the weekend after Thanksgiving and come up with a 'bucket list' of holiday things we want to do over the next month. This year I was realistic and rather minimalist in what I added to our list and I'm happy to say that we checked off almost everything on our list!

No Christmas season is complete without a trip through Willow Glen to look at all the amazing holiday lights with a stop for hot chocolate in the middle. 

Found an awesome Christmas tree while doing some shopping

Gingerbread houses

Paper snowflakes

More paper snowflakes with watercolors

We got outside as much as possible this month. It rained a lot, so that meant lots of puddle stomping.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

El Toro Hike

This weekend Mark and I had the opportunity to go for a hike .... without kids! We hiked up El Toro, the highest peak in our town. It was one of the foggiest mornings I've seen in a long time (in the picture below you can even see the tiny water drops floating in the air!). I've been told the view from the top is amazing, but we couldn't see anything but clouds. All the same, the view was pretty spectacular. At the top of the peak it was totally sunny and we were above the clouds. It was just like being in an airplane. It was wonderful to be able to go on a hike, just the two of us. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Beach Friday 2014

This is the 6th year we've done our tradition of going to the beach on the day after Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful day! We went to 17-Mile Drive and played on the beach for a few hours. It was warm enough for Lucy to take her dress off and play in her undies. The boys got completely soaked by jumping in the waves.

 We went to Carmel afterwards and ate at our favorite bistro. It was a quicker trip than usual because we were short on time, but it was still very sweet!