Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of School!

School started really late here, it seems, compared to everyone else, but it finally did start!  Ella is now in second grade, and Alex started Kindergarten.  Both my kids are now in school!  They grow up so fast.

Alex was up and dressed by the time I got out of the shower this morning.  He wore his backpack all through breakfast, which he would hardly touch because he was so excited.  Ella was just cool with it all.  After all, she is a veteran at this.

We live in walking distance to the school, so I will definitely be getting my exercise this year.  I get to walk back and forth three times a day.

Alex had his orientation yesterday, so after forcing a hug and kiss from him he was off.  He hardly gave me a backward glance.

Ella hadn't gotten to meet her teacher yet, but everyone says she's a great one.

Ella was a little shy waiting in line, but when it was time to go in, she marched right in and was right at home.

The verdict at the end of the first day:  Alex couldn't really tell me anything he did, but he seemed to have fun. Ella was in high heaven.  She made "four new friends," and already has a playdate on Friday with the set of twins that are in her class.  All the parents I met were super nice, and the PTA people seem to have it all together.  I think this is going to be a really good year, and hopefully the first one we won't have to move in the middle of!

Jelly Belly Factory

As a last hurrah to summer we went with some friends to visit the Jelly Belly Factory!

It has a free tour you can take to see how they make Jelly Bellies.

We got to wear goofy hats, which the kids loved, but mine just wouldn't stay on my head.  We weren't allowed to take pictures during the tour, but it was really cool to see all the millions of jelly beans.  Did you know it takes anywhere from 7 to 21 days to make a Jelly Belly?  Now you do.

My favorite part of the tour was getting to see all the really cool Jelly Belly mosaics they have.

Ronald Reagan was a huge Jelly Belly fan.  The blueberry Jelly Belly was invented just for his presidential campaign so he could pass out red, white, and blue Jelly Bellies.  He would start all his meetings in the White House by passing around a bowl of Jelly Bellies, and there was a special spill-proof Jelly Belly container on Air Force One.

I totally want to make a jelly bean mosaic now.

You also get free samples at the end of your tour.  I was brave and tried a moldy cheese one, and it actually wasn't too bad.  They also now have candy corn flavored Jelly Bellies, which were pretty good, but I think I'll just stick with the real things.

We stopped at McDonald's for lunch afterward, because even though a jelly bean shaped hamburger sounds good in concept, paying $8 for a kid's meal is not.  And that was our fun outing!  We had a great time and it was a fun way to finish off our summer.

Next up, first day of school!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to the Beginning

Anton's and my anniversary is on Tuesday.  It'll be eight years since we said our I do's.  Unfortunately, our anniversary falls on a weekday, specifically the one right before school starts, so we knew a fun night out on the town was out of the picture.  Instead, we decided to head back to the beginning this weekend and hang out in Monterey.

Eight years ago Anton and I were both in the military studying our different languages at DLI, the military language school in Monterey.  I fell for the good looking guy in a Navy uniform, and I managed to convince him that I was a nice sweet girl.  (Ha!)  Five months after we met we were married.  I don't feel the need to drag things out once I've made up my mind.  :)

At first we were kind of planning on recreating some fun events from when we lived in Monterey, like eating at Bubba Gumps on our first date.  But then I decided that we'd done all that stuff before and we needed to do some new fun things.  So here's how our fun weekend went.

On Friday afternoon we picked Anton up from work and headed out for the 2 hour drive down there.  We had decided to camp there on Friday night so we would have more time to play.  The campground down there doesn't take reservations, so it's always nerve wracking planning to camp there because if it's full there are no other choices in the area.  But we were lucky.  After paying a pretty Monterey fee for a campground ($27!!) we set up camp.

It's a beautiful campground surrounded by trees.

Just be warned, if you ever stay there, it's right next to the Army base and you will be woken up at 7 a.m. by reveille.

It's been foggy and misty both times we've camped there, but I think it just adds to the charm.

We set up camp as fast as we could because the place we wanted to get dinner from closed at 6.  We managed to get there about ten minutes before closing.  Now, this restaurant, if you can call it that, is definitely not gourmet.

But it has the HUGEST sandwiches ever, and they are the best.  You'll never want to eat at Subway again.  You can get these beauties at Compagnos, a little convenience store right outside the base.  But the real reason for eating there is not the sandwiches, it's the cake!

Anton and I spent many a date with a slice of their cake.  Yum!  We took our food out to Asilomar beach.  It was cold and foggy, but a stop there is a must.  This is the beach where Anton and I had our first awkward kiss and where he proposed to me.

Ella played in the sand and Alex wore himself out chasing the seagulls.

Then before it got too dark we headed over to the Dennis the Menace park.  This park features nowhere in the dating history of Anton and I, it's just super fun for the kids.

They have all sorts of fun slides.

A real full-sized train you can climb all over.

And a maze and a swinging bridge and all sorts of fun things.  Alex managed to convince me to climb through a big pipe with him, and Anton was so obliging as to take a lovely picture of my rear for you all.

We played until the city employee had to kick us out because he was closing the park.

Then back to the campground to go to sleep.  Well, at least some of us slept.  I sure didn't.  Have I ever mentioned I hate camping?  I do.  Plus, I asked Anton multiple times if it was supposed to rain because we were taking our bigger tent that is not so waterproof any more.  He assured me that rain was not in the forecast.  But as soon as we all settled in to sleep, rain it did.  All night long.  We were all damp and fully wet around the edges in the morning.  Not fun.

We needed a good wake up, so we headed over to First Awakenings for breakfast.  We'd never eaten there before, and we regret that fully now.  They have divine pancakes and crepes and eggs Benedict to die for!  I was tempted to lick the Hollandaise sauce off my plate, but I refrained.

It was still somewhat drizzly when we finished eating, but we decided to press on with our plans.  We drove over to Carmel where we told the kids we were going on a treasure hunt.  All throughout the shopping district in Carmel are all sorts of little hidden alleyways and courtyards.  We gave the kids a map and had them lead us through a bunch of them.

And these aren't normal back alleys, most of them are flowery and beautiful.  The kids had lots of fun, and the treasure at the end was a candy shop.  We let them each pick something out.  Ella chose a giant peanut butter cup, and while she was eating it, I hear her say, "Uh oh."  That never signifies something good.  I look over, and sure enough, she has lost a tooth!

Yuck.  Falling out teeth are so gross!

We took a break to eat our treats in a fun little park.  The kids each made a wish in a little pond there.

Anton and I just sat and took a break.

After our treasure adventure we headed over to the Carmel Mission.  Don't think less of me, but I wanted to see it after reading all about it in the Mediator series by Meg Cabot.  I'd never even heard about it before reading those books.

It's one of the old Spanish missions that line the coast.  We wandered around the grounds, and managed to get a quick peek inside the church since there were three weddings going on that day.

It was pretty cool to see, though Anton and I both agree it probably would have been cooler and made more sense to us if we were Catholic.

Next we headed back into Monterey to find a bench along the beach to sit and eat our leftovers from the night before.

I was pooped from my lack of sleep and all our exploring, so I sat and rested while the kids and Anton went scrambling over all the rocks.

They found a dead sea lion and a tide pool full of fun creatures, like this hermit crab:

And then we made one more spontaneous stop at the Point Pinos lighthouse.

It's the longest continuously running lighthouse on the west coast.  It was a fun little place to see.

And that about does it.  It was a full weekend, but I have to admit I was glad to head home.  I have a one night limit on camping.  Though Anton and I have both agreed that we'd be more than willing to retire to Monterey some day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birthday Recap

I haven't blogged about the kids' or my birthdays this year, so I thought I'd do a quick overview of them all at once!

Ella's birthday was back in June.  She turned 7!  I can't believe how old my kids are getting.  :(

Ella wanted a ballerina themed birthday and was very specific about how everything needed to be.  First we had to play pin the tiara on the ballerina.  I busted out my drawing skills (sure) and drew a giant ballerina on a leftover piece of packing paper.  I left it empty and let the kids decorate it as part of the activities.

I think they did a pretty good job.

My ballerina with her ballerina.  Isn't she just so cute?

Then on to the game!  Not a single one of us managed to get our crown on the ballerina, not even the kids who cheated.

Next up was musical chairs.  It's pretty hard to play when you only have 4 people and one has to start and stop the music.  That leaves you with 3 people and 2 chairs.  The game goes pretty fast.  Anton took a video or two of the silliness, but I'm too lazy to hook it up right now to upload it.

Then it was present time!  Ella's one and only request was for a Happy Napper.

Thank you television for introducing my children to such fantastic toys.  She also got a ballet tutu (she wanted a whole ballet outfit and was totally bummed about the homemade tutu I gave her), clothes, art stuff, and a jump rope.

She's still working on the jump roping skills.

Then it was time for cake!

Ella requested a strawberry cake with white frosting.

I did all the pink decorations with chocolate.  There were different ballerina silhouettes all around the cake.  I wanted to cover the whole thing with the roses I did on top, but I ran out of frosting.  Those things are frosting hogs!!

It was a tasty cake, but sadly Ella didn't like the strawberry filling I put in it.

The rest of us enjoyed it though.

So that was Ella's 7th birthday!

Next up was Alex's 5th birthday in July.  Can you believe he's starting kindergarten in a week?  Where did my baby go?  We celebrated his birthday in parts since we were travelling and moving right around his birthday.

We gave him one present early so he could have it in the car.

Yes, another Happy Napper.  He loves it.

When we were in Utah we had a whole big family party for everyone, so he got celebrated some more, and then it was off to California.  We actually celebrated his real birthday in the hotel.

I had tried to get all his gifts ahead of time, but ended up having to make a last minute Target run to round out the gifts.

But he was thrilled with his goggles and floaties since we had a pool there at the hotel to swim in.

I didn't want to try and bake a cake in the little hotel kitchen, so I let Alex pick his cake at the grocery store.  And no matter how much I tried to convince him that a nice plain white cake with Happy Birthday on top would be perfect, he insisted in this one:

Yeah.  The kids were pooping green for days.  I couldn't eat it.  But he loved it, and that's what matters, right?  I need to send a picture of it to Cake Wrecks.

And then last, but not least, was my birthday.  We pretty much didn't do anything.  Actually, that's not true.  we house hunted on my birthday.  We went to the open house of the house we're currently living in, and all I wanted for my birthday was this house.  And I got it so all is good.  We also went out for dinner at a super good sushi place, and on my birthday itself went up to see the Oakland temple.

And that about does it for birthdays this year.  I'll probably do a couple other catch-up posts, and one of these days I actually post about our new house!  I was hoping to wait until we are all unpacked, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ella Update

Ella is doing great!  The girl who ran into my bedroom Thursday morning was so not the girl I left at the hospital Wednesday night.  She gets sleepy now and then from her medicine, and she says her throat hurts, but other than that she seems to be doing fine.  She eats regular food (soft food), though she does take advantage of the pudding and Popsicles we stocked up on before the surgery.  She is definitely milking the invalid status for all its worth.  She's watched LOTS of movies and just lays around on the couch all day, which is what she would do on any regular day if I would let her.  So besides a little throat pain, she's in heaven.  So that's the update for now!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adenoids and Tonsils and Tubes, Oh My!

So I'm hanging out in the hospital with Ella today.  She had her tonsils and adenoids out this morning and tubes put in her ears.  She's been a total trooper about it.

The first thing she said was to ask for the stuffed bear they gave her before she went into surgery.  Then while she was half asleep she was signing "I love you" to me.  It was so cute.

She threw up a couple times and hasn't said much, but she also says that she's not in any pain, so that's good.

Anton and Alex came and visited her after lunch and brought our little DVD player.  I told her she could watch her movie after Daddy and Alex left, and she started waving goodbye to them.  What a nut!

So now this is how she's been sitting for over an hour:

Puke bowl under the chin, and Barbie on the DVD player.  All is good with the world.  

They're keeping her overnight since she had such an obstructed airway from her adenoids, but I'm going to switch off with Anton for that.  There's no way I'm going to play nursemaid all day tomorrow after having to sleep in a hospital recliner.  No thanks!

So that's the excitement in our little neck of the woods.  We'll keep you all posted on how she's doing!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Weekend Tourist - San Francisco Edition

Living as "close" as we do to San Francisco (about an hour drive and a $5 bridge toll) and after listening to the kids beg to see the Golden Gate Bridge since they originally heard about it, we decided today to head to the city.  We couldn't just drive in and see the bridge and go home, though, so we planned a couple other stops and made a couple unplanned ones.

First stop, Lombard Street!

Lombard Street is supposedly the windiest street in some geographic region, be it city, state, country, world, etc.  From the top you can see all the way to Coit Tower there in the distance and across to the other side of the bay.  You have to run over a few tourists to be able to actually drive down Lombard Street.  They just stand in the middle of the road snapping pictures, neveryoumind the million cars headed your way.

Looking back up the street you just see lots of pretty flowers.

The kids were in roller coaster heaven!  Alex always begs us to put the car in neutral so we can fly down the hills (what he imagines would happen if we actually did that), so cruising Lombard Street was right up his alley.  We actually went around the block and did it again because it was so much fun.

Next stop: the Palace of Fine Arts.  I actually took a History of San Francisco class when I was in college, and it was one of my favoritest classes ever!  (How do you like that great grammar?)  Ever since then I have wanted to see the Palace of Fine Arts in person.  I never imagined it was so HUGE!

Most tourist attractions leave you thinking, "That's it?"  But this place was waaaaay bigger than I ever imagined.  It's beautiful there!

To give you a sense of scale, that's Alex standing in the middle of the dome area where the red arrow is pointing.  So cool!  There's actually a science museum right there too, but we decided to save it for another day.

Next stop: Golden Gate Bridge!

Alex declared after the fact that he didn't like it because it wasn't gold and because we had to walk on it.  We didn't want to pay another bridge toll, and I though it would give us a better sense of the size to walk out on it instead of driving.

It was fairly foggy most of the time we were there so we only caught glimpses of the top of the bridge.

It took me forever to get this picture set up with me all sprawled out on the ground and in everyone's way, only to have the kids making goofy faces!  Argh.

Let me tell you, though, you want to see an interesting cross-section of humanity, go walk the Golden Gate Bridge on a Saturday afternoon.  Wow.  And I just have to say, there have been so many times that I just want to scream out loud: "This is America, people!  We walk on the right side of the street/sidewalk!" And those particular people won't get out of your way for anything.  They'll plow you over if you don't step to the left.  Grrr.  But regardless, the bridge was fun, but I would suggest going on a cold weekday when it's not quite so busy.

After grabbing a quick and expensive lunch at the cafe in the parking lot (note to self, don't be so lazy next time and actually pack a lunch) we drove around the point of the peninsula and down to Ocean Beach.

We only walked out to the water and back since it was chilly and we hadn't planned on making a beach stop.  But the beach was nice and empty, and the sand was really nice.

From there we drove down the Great Highway for a short ways to see the sights, then back over and through the city.  We passed some of the Russian places we had visited when we lived in Monterey and made a note to come back that way again some time.  And then it was back home for naps and recuperation.  Big cities take it out of me.  But then again, I've already made an enormous list of places I want to see next time we go back.  We're kind of thinking about making this a monthly thing.  We'll see!