Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas is a Comin'!

Four more days!  And we have effectively put everything off until this week!  Well, most everything.  Shopping (on my end...some people, ahem, are last minute shoppers...) is done, but baking, wrapping presents, and a small attempt at sending out Christmas cards are still on the list.  So the house is a flurry of joyful activity (and some serious sugar induced meltdowns in the smaller age bracket).  And with the amount of rain we've had, inside activity is a good thing!

Sophia made the dough...with a little help(er).

Everyone helped cut out...Isabel is whistling to the Christmas music in the background!

What's this? Dough on my hands! Hmmm...

Let me just get that off...

Read through 2 Hardy Boys books in between cooking!
Christmas cards from hand-crafted paper- this was a 2am project!

The decorations have been up since right after Thanksgiving, and we have had some cool additions to our usual stock.  There is a vintage/collectables shop here on Main St. that I have been wanting to go into ever since we moved here.  The shop doesn't have usual hours, and is never open when I go by. So a few weeks ago, I was on my way to the store,  when I glanced over (out of habit) to see if it was open, and WA-LAAH- door was open!  So I did a quick u-turn (legal-like, of course...!) and went in.  The lady who owns it was very nice, but only in to pick up a few things.  She let me look around and we had a great conversation.  I was looking through a box, and she said- "Oh, I'm taking that stuff to Goodwill, so anything you want in there is free."  AND...guess what I found????!

Oh, Yeah!

My very first aluminum Christmas tree!  Isn't it cute?!  AND, two matching tea towels- the tree skirt is one of them.  So I ran to CVS and found the teeny red and green ornaments for under $3 (on sale!).  But that's not all.  At church that weekend, our Pastor had gotten a bunch of old ornaments that the City was going to throw away (he works for the city), and was giving them away.  I let everyone pick through, then made my way back, and look what was waiting for me- the rest of the ornaments on the tree! Plus the tree topper Santa, and many other vintage ornaments that are now hanging from the garland with the rest of our collection.  I can't believe they would have thrown these out!  What a cool blessing!  Here are some of the others...

These were from  Mom...

Some of these were from church!

This Santa was a dumpster dive find :)  He has a funny story...ask me sometime!
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas full of love, joy, peace, and all the other wonderful things that Jesus came to give us- I'm so thankful for His gift of love!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Did Anyone See November????

Seriously!  Where did last month go??!  It was full of family and fun, but it went by so fast.  I love this time of year, but it never seems long enough.  With the inspiration from my sister-in-law, who had her house decked way out for Christmas the week before Thanksgiving (go Chris!!), we drug out the decorations the day after Thanksgiving. I'm so glad, because at least December seems to be going at a little slower pace.  We went over to Marty (Rob's bro) and Chris' house to celebrate Mitch's 21st and Luke's 10th birthdays.  So much fun hanging out with everyone.  Love you all!

Way too many cute genes in this family :)

The girls havin' fun

Pretty masks from Aunt Chris

For Thanksgiving, my sister and her family came to stay for a week- yay!  We ended up going down to our Aunt and Uncle's house to see our family we haven't seen in a while- so glad we went!  My uncle was there, haven't seen him in ages.  So I made him retell the chicken lady story (he will always add, with a very serious face- "it's a true story").  This is the story we, as children, would all gather around in the dark and listen to him tell, and it would send chills down our backs as we listened to him make the Scriiitch, Scraaaatch sound of her chicken claw feet walking on the cobblestone road in Mexico.  I know, no wonder I turned out the way I did!  But still, I got it on video...to freak out future generations, of course. :)

Me, My Sis, and Uncle Eli the Storyteller
Some of the cousins that he terrified!
It was a fun night- we love family! We came home and didn't eat our turkey until Sunday night, because even though we took it out Monday, it was still frozen solid Thursday morning! ha :)  But we had a fun visit with Sarah and Caleb.  We all watched "Hello, Dolly" for the first time, in part because Caleb brought Wall-E and wanted the kids to see the muscial that was in the cartoon.  None of us realized it was Barbara Streisand ( I know...we don't know some stuff!), but it was a fun watch for us all, and Eva and Ava were adorable- they dressed up all princess-y and danced their little skirts off to all the music.  So much fun!

Well, Hello, Dollies!

The box says it all!

12 week old Simeon, or sometimes called "baby Cinnamon" by Ava :)
Wish we lived closer, but are so thankful for visits, and very thankful for family- what a blessing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Out and About

Last night was so much fun!  First, we helped run a carnival/outreach @ church for a few hours, and all the neighborhood kids came.  I was in charge of the balloon popping booth, which actually should be called the "Watch out for bouncing darts" game.  I got hit with many rebounding stray darts- thankfully none of the pokey sides got me! :)  It was funny to watch the littlest ones try to throw the darts.  Some had the most unconventional ways of getting the darts to the balloons, but still managed to pop a few.

After all the fun was cleaned up, it was almost 7, so we headed back home to go around and visit neighbors.  I love taking the kids around our street, because we have amazing neighbors.  Last year we had just moved in, and I used Halloween to get to meet everyone.  This year, I purposefully went up to the doors of the neighbors on the end of the streets that I don't know very well, to see faces again and get names.  So I spent lots of time running to catch up with everyone, but that's ok...just running off a few mini-snickers that happened to make their way into my mouth. :)  Our friends came with us, and we had a blast.  We even had a policeman pull his car right up to us to pass out glow bracelets- how cool is that?!

Santa Paula's Finest!

At the end, we all headed back to the house to dump out the booty on the floor and count, go through, sneak a few pieces and even trade a few.  That's the best!

What a crew :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things Creepy...And Fairytail Endings

So the last few weeks, we have been dealing with a scorching case of...poison oak.  The boys went for a hike, and ended up trailblazing right through it.  Rob woke up with swollen eyes, and by mid-week needed to go to the doc for some meds.  He really looked like a burn victim- red, swollen, and blistered.  If any of you get it bad, you know exactly what I mean.  Gabe got a bit on his arm, and I got some just 'cause I hugged and smooched them when they got home from their hike.  Thankfully we are all on the tail end of that nasty stuff.

Then Friday I'm sitting on the floor with Ava, and she says, "Look, Mama- a lizard!"  I turn to look at the kitchen in time to see something out of the corner of my eye that looks like something other than a reptile...I run in to find a scared little mouse hiding in the corner behind the trash can.  We have not had a mouse in the house before, and I'll admit I kinda freaked.  I yelled for Gabe, who grabbed his bb gun.  The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to keep it in the corner til Rob got home.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, and you get this:

There goes the lining...

Ready to whack it!

Be VEWWY, VEWWY quiet!
We heard him in the couch, so out went the couch, out went the mouse!  He finally made a run for it,  and got away.  As long as he doesn't end up back in my kitchen, then happy trails!  I personally think the reason he came in is because we went to the Pete's Pumpkin Patch in Camarillo (which was a TOTAL blast, and me, like a lame-O, forgot the camera- AUGH!) and brought this  beautiful Cinderella pumpkin home...he was rather chubby, like Gus-Gus! :)

Who wouldn't want a coach from this?!

The rest of the day was much better: made from scratch blueberry pancakes, costume sewing, and pumpkin carving...which I'll post pics for later.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Donut Hole-y Cross Night

So last night we had another date night- yay!  We've been multi-tasking the last few weeks, sneaking out to fill up our water bottles, and have some time alone.  The water store happens to be by Trader Joe's, so we can even get free coffee and dessert out of it if we play our cards right! :)  A few weeks ago, our friend told us about a too-good-to-be-true spot that we had never heard of: a 24-hour DRIVE-THRU Donut shop!  This was now a quest to find it, since we had vague whereabouts.  We tried to find it a few date-nights back, to no avail.  Last night, Rob brought a thermos full of coffee, and some biscotti that a friend of ours dropped by this week (Thanks Dana!!), so I figured he had a plan.  He wanted to take me up to the Serra Cross, which overlooks Ventura.  We were trying to find a street to lead us up there (can you tell we are still finding our way around?!), when we passed by KFC.  I look and saw a school on the left, and got super-excited!  Why, you ask?  Those were the random landmarks given to us in order to find Donut Shangri-la!  SO we start looking, end up turning around and on the second pass, realized we had driven right by it.  It's a small little house looking building, in the parking lot of another place. The lights are all off, except a small neon sign that says open.  You would never even imagine there is a drive-thru (or that it really is open!), unless you've been given vague directions and a hot tip!  I can't even tell you how excited I was to pull up and order my sugar donut!  It was nothing short of magical.  I was giddy.  We had coffee.  We had donuts.  Now to find the cross.  Rob's inner compass kicked in, he turned down a random street, and, wah-laaaah- The Serra Cross.  It was beautiful up there, with all the city lights.  We get out to look, and are taking in the sights, when we heard a thump, and Rob shudders.  "Did you see that?!"  We didn't realize we had parked by a trash can in the bushes, and a large rat jumped out of the can.  SO romantic! BLAH!!!  We moved the car, and everything was fab...  The best things in life are free....well, at least, under 2 bucks! :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy First Day Of OCTOBER!

Sorry for the double-post, but I just couldn't help it!  I LOVE October!  It just feels like the true beginning of all things Autumny :)  Which is the most fabulous season there is, as it's the doorway to chilly nights, bowls of chili, snuggling up on the couch, and baking, baking, baking!  It also means pulling up the scraggly remains of our summer garden, and bringing in the pumpkins!!  I just cut our first sugar pumpkin today- it's so cute!  I will enjoy looking at it til we bake it up into a pie. Or bread.  Or biscotti.  Or soup.  The possibilities are endless.

Livie's first pumpkin- she grew it herself!
On another fall note, did anyone get a chance to see the Harvest Moon?!  Big and Yellow, so beautiful!  We didn't get a picture of it, but a few nights before, Gabe had his telescope out, and we took this shot through the lens:

That's amore!
More fall fun awaits, and all I can say, in the words of Rhino, the hamster, is:  LET IT BEGIN!!!!

Second Wave of Summer Revisited

I can't believe how much fun we crammed into this summer!  I didn't realize it until I started looking back at all the pictures.  SO, let's get to it!

First off, I have to go back to our spontaneous Fourth of July celebration.  I say spontaneous because we had fun plans to hang out with our friend who recently had moved back into her really cool Victorian house.  The day before our fun, I came down with a nasty bit of strep throat.  BLAH.  We were disappointed, the kids were disappointed, our friend was disappointed.  So Rob does what any great Papa needs to do in a time like this: break out the tent for back yard camping complete with s'mores and fireworks.  Instant rescue!

Happy Independence Day to the 6th power!
 After I recovered from the strep factor, we decided that some of the 50lbs of strawberries we got from a local farm on Rob's birthday finally needed to turn into jam...

So we mashed...

And stirred...

And stirred...

And filled...
Until... PRESTO!  Sweet bliss in a jar!

Nothing beats homemade jam!  If you haven't tried it, you really have to next summer.  We hit "Jam Day", where the stand actually sells all the ripest strawberries- and here's the kicker- already de-stemmed for you- for $1 a pound- can you believe it?!  The air is heady and sweet, and you stand in a long line talking with other women who maybe have years of experience canning, or maybe are trying it for the first time.  You bring your own containers and definitely eat a bunch on the way home!  So much fun, definitely will be in line next year!

We also had a jam-packed (no pun intended...!) visit with Wendy, who drove down for a 5 day visit.  We had fun at the beach (with Kat and Lacey too), then came home and got a great surprise visit from Ciara and her family.  It also happened to be Isabel's birthday party night, so we got pizza, and I made 2 berry cherry pies for her, which were finished at 10:30pm, so we stayed up late watching movies and eating pie...mmmm!  Isabel's cousin Mitchel also stopped by that week to say Happy Birthday, and we ended up going for a hike at the creek, then coming home for hot dogs and a crazy game of Sardines- the first game in this house- OH YEAH!  And of course, we made a trip to La Super Rica for amazing food, finished off with a tour around the S.B Mission.  What a great visit!

Wendy's here!
Flowers for his girl :)

Only in a game of sardines does this small shower hold this many people!

Our last hurrah for the summer was a very spontaneous (that word again!) trip up north to see my sister's new adorable baby boy (and family!)  On the way up I realized I didn't have my memory for my camera- LAME!  So very lame, considering all the photo ops we had.  We found an AMAZING "farm" in the most unlikely spot.   Right off the freeway in a gas station parking lot is this fabulous place called Bravo Farms Cheese Factory.  The only reason we stopped was because I had to go to the bathroom REALLY bad :)  So glad I did!  The bathroon/gas station had a bunch of funny signs in it.  Then in front of the Factory building was an old dairy truck with vintage bottles and wooden boxes.  SO cool.  I was practically in the truck, when the guy working there said, "You should go in- we  have donkeys and chickens and goats for the kids."  Say donkey and I'm sold!  You would never know from the gas station parking lot what a cool place lays beyond.  We will definitely go again and I will post a bazillion pictures, cause the whole place is loaded with the coolest vintage stuff, and the funniest signs you've seen.

My sister had both of her babies at the same hospital up north as all our girls were born at.  Sophia was actually the 4th baby born at that hospital- it was brand new, state of the art.  The doctor actually called Rob over while I was in labor and said- "Look at this!  When you point this laser the light will follow it anywhere- COOL, huh?!"  Um, guys, a little FOCUS please!

NEEDLESS to say, without picture taking capacity,  I am waiting on pics from my sis of our visit with them.  We got to stay with my mom for a few days- the kids were so excited to be at grandma's again!  There's just something about the smell of the pine trees, combined with being at Mom's house that is good for the soul. Then we stayed with Sarah and Caleb and family and had a great time before we piled in the car and made the long trek home.  SO glad we got to go, what a perfect way to wrap up summer!

Fairy house made by little hands.
Can you smell the pine?!  Love you Mom!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer Revisited...First Wave

SINCE we are melting like butter in a hot skillet, in the bonus round of summer we have been blessed with before glorious fall sets in,  I figured I'd put up some of the pics from summer that never made their way here.

The first batch is an ode to Gabe and the things he had fun with this summer.


His first race!
Absolutely beautiful out there...no matter what number you finish :)
First sabot race complete...with a big smile
Not all fun and games...gotta de-rig!
Now to grab some barnacles and other slimy things!

He did spend some time ashore, rest assure matey!  His land lubbin' cockatiel missed him, so he spent some time teaching  him to say all sorts of stuff ("Ahoy, matey!" Also, "Everybody dance now!" compliments of C&C Music Factory, just to name a few).  Pippin is one cool bird!

Almost a pirate's parrot!
There is lots more summer fun, but I'll end this with a poem from Gabe, who is one cool kid!


If Pippin was big
And I was very small
The world would not
Be the same at all.

If Pippin was big
And I was his size
I'd live in his cage
And I'd be his prize.

I'd live in his cage
He'd teach me to sing
I'd stand on his perch
And swing on his swing.

When I was lonely
I'd give a sad call
My mom'd come cover
The cage, all and all.

And if Mom went shopping
Boy, Pippin would sing!
For going to buy seed
Is a wonderful thing!

So now you can see
With him big and me small
The world would not 
Be the same at all!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere!!

I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but it's been a busy few weeks.  The third day we were at Jack's house, the girls started hitting me up again for a hamster.  We've had this conversation before.   At the time, the animal tally looked something like this:  2 large dogs, one finicky cat, (all outside only animals, btw), 1 super-smart cockatiel that whistles the Star Wars theme, Pirate's yo-ho song, wakes you up with an "Ahoy, Matey!", among many other things (can you guess who's bird this is?!), 2 beta fish, some tadpoles we caught at the river down the street, two recently acquired bullfrogs in a Star Wars habitat (one already a frog, the other still changing), and a partridge in a pear tree....just kidding (about the partridge part).  So you can see why this conversation kept coming up, because the answer kept being- no way, jose!  But they are persistent!  So I told them to wait until Isabel's birthday before we talked about it again- it would buy me a month's reprieve.  Just the fact that I didn't say "no" made them giddy. 

Flash forward to later that same afternoon, we needed to go Petco to get the bullfrog some worms.  We walk in, and I'm not even kidding, there is a table set up with a sign: FREE HAMSTERS.  I felt like I was set up!  The girls saw it and I swear I heard a chorus of angels sing "AAAAHHHH!" over their heads.  I asked the girl working there if they always give away free hamsters, and she said, "We NEVER do this!"  Figures.  The girls spent their hard earned, long-saved money on a cage, bedding, food, and a cute little hamster ball, and walked out with not one, but TWO dwarf hamsters.  I asked them to tell us if they were boys, girls, or one of each. The girl took them both in the back room, came back with gloves on and said, "Well, I know WHERE to look, but I don't really know what I'm looking for."  Wonderful.

Ava was thrilled.  "I wana hold the monstoows!"  Huh?  "The monstoows aw sooo tute!"  Monsters!  It was so "tute" that we couldn't correct her, and really, she's not that far off!  They are adorable little furballs, I have to admit.  The white one Sophia named Moonbeam, and Isabel named hers Creampuff.

So,  the last week or so, Isabel was kind of sad.  "Mama, Creampuff is turning into a meaner.  He keeps biting me when I try to take him out of the cage."  Hmmm.  Wednesday we found out why, when our little guy gave birth to SEVEN little monsters!  Oh, my!

They look like little piggies in there!  Kinda creepy, kinda cute.  They squeak for their mama, and she tends to them.  They all sleep a lot.  I think our tally just went up.