Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve Eve

Dale and I had a nice spontaneous date night last night, enjoying the pretty lights along the coast line from Laguna Beach to Dana Point Harbor.  Dale had just finished showing property in Laguna Beach and I was out shopping when we called one another and decided to meet up.  I got to see our new dream home, a lovely 2 million dollar house in south Laguna Beach with a fantastic view of the ocean that  Dale had showed earlier in the day.  It is a very interesting home; a 2 million dollar fixer upper that needs some TLC but has a  a lot of potential, and the view is really incredible.  It was fun to see it and to it would be great if his clients buy it.

 We drove up to the Ritz Carlton.  The driveway  is beautifully lit with blue lights in all of the trees and some really fun meteor shower lights that look like shooting stars in some of the trees.  Then we drove on to Dana Point Harbor to find a place to eat more suited to my casual attire.  A seafood restaurant in Dana Point harbor was one of our first dates, so we always get a little romantically nostalgic when we go to the harbor, which is fun.  We ate at El Torito this time, and had a table with a lovely view of the harbor with many of the boats docked outside  lit up with Christmas lights.   It was very colorful and fun,  plus we enjoyed the margaritas!  There is a cute shop in Dana Point harbor that we always enjoy browsing in.  They have art and Jewelry and other nice gifts.  Years ago we bought a small painting there, and a few other things over the years.  Last night Dale picked out a very pretty pearl necklace and had me try it on.  I loved it and Dale very sweetly bought it for me.  It is really pretty; pink pearl and silver chain with dangling small crystals and a very interesting pendant made of pearl, gems and crystal.  Dale has a good eye for pretty jewelry and he spoils me!
My pretty necklace, the pearls are pinker then they appear
All in all it was a very fun way to celebrate New Years Eve Eve.  Lots of fun and no pressure to stay out past midnight.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Santa brought me a bike!

I think I must have been very very good this year, plus checking in with the big guy for the first time in 20 years probably helped (I sat on Santa's lap this year).  Much to my delight and surprise Santa brought me a bike for Christmas!  Well actually Dale and Becky picked it out...but didn't they do a good job?  It's  a purple Electra 3 speed cruiser with pretty gold "henna" tattoos painted on.  I wasn't expecting a bike and didn't even know I wanted one, but we immediately fell in love.  I have taken her out for one or two short rides a day since I got her.  My head is definitely into it;  it is taking my legs and rump a little while to catch up!

Me and my bike went out Christmas light looking in the neighborhood a couple of days after Christmas and here is some of what we saw.

The bike enjoying the lights....aint she a beaut!

Pretty view, pretty bike, Horray!

Christmas 2010

Our  Christmas stockings were too stuffed to risk hanging by the chimney with care, so they were all lined up on the Hearth Christmas morning. We had a wonderful Christmas starting with Christmas Eve dinner which has become a family tradition. We missed having my niece Autumn and her husband Brett with us this year, but my niece April and her friend Lana were visiting from Pennsylvania so we still had a houseful, plus my parents and brother Jason for Christmas Eve and Melody, Tim, Jaina and Gavin for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Christmas was warm and cozy here but the rain earlier in the week wreaked havoc on my Mom and Dad's place.  The drain behind their bedroom clogged and their room filled up with muddy water.  They were busy cleaning up at their place, the girls moved over to our house for the holidays and our traditional Christmas Day dinner at Mom and Dad's place was cancelled.   We enjoyed a relaxed Christmas day here though.  We always have a big Christmas morning; opening the presents under the tree and the stockings.  Every year we also have the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve.  The gift is always the pajamas for everybody.  We open them up one at a time and while the person is opening them we take turns saying what we like and appreciate about that person.  It was fun to include April and Lana in the tradition.  Gavin was a good sport and we just passed him around the room during his turn and took turns saying nice things to him...what a sweet, happy little baby he is!   Jaina kind of enjoyed being the one to open up most of our presents, although she grew increaingly less excited about their content.  Autumn and Brett even joined in via Skype and got to open up their PJ's I had sent to them in Spokane.  

Everybody liked their comfy Pj's so much, I don't think April and Lana took them off all day!
Becky with the stuffed owl that Autumn made her.

April and Lana
It is so much fun having the little ones around during the holidays!  Gavin and Jaina really light the place up and bring us all so much joy!  Melody and Tim came back for Christmas afternoon too and we opened more gifts and had ham and Eldorado for dinner.
Gavin and I with one of his presents

Jaina with her new Camera on her Daddy Tim's lap

Jaina seemed to really like the Fisher Price digital camera that we got her.  She took a lot of extreme close ups of everyone. I am sure when they upload the photos there will be a lot of interesting eyeball and nose shots.   She and her photography loving mommy had a little shoot out with them chasing each other around the house taking pictures amongst squeals of laughter.  Jaina was really into it.

Gavin looked dashing in the little Santa suit we got him with his cute mommy Melody.

Becky and Jaina play in their pillow fort. There is always lots of play time with miss Jaina in the house!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Tree Adventure!

Christmas 2010

"You picked the best possible day to do this" the garden center man said in all seriousness as the rain poured down on Dale And I.  We were cold and drenched so we had to laugh but he said "No really of the few days you have left the next couple of days the rain is going to be a lot worse and with stronger winds too".     I consider it a testament to our marriage that we were still laughing and cheerful at that point, plus the guy made an interesting point; no matter what the situation it usually could be worse!  We were soaked and had been for a good 3 hours but we were both happy;  me because we had finally found a couple of nice looking Christmas trees that were still in pretty good shape and Dale because I was happy and the trees were half off.   We started our two Christmas tree tradition right after we were married, one for the living room with white lights and a "theme" and one for the family room with colored lights and collected ornaments.  Christmas morning always involves a little time sitting below each tree and opening gifts.  We have tried to cut back to just one tree but this has led to massive protests by Becky, our vocal traditionalist and a girl who clearly recognized that two trees would  logically produce more gifts than just one.  Becky is in college now with her own place in LA, but still very much about traditions....and lots of presents.

What led us into our messy adventure is that we had waited until a mere 4 days until Christmas eve to put up our trees, an all time low.  The root of the problem as I see it is that the last couple of years we were kind of busy, and though not nearly this late when we went to get the trees, we were plenty late.  When we arrived at Lowes to pick up the trees two years ago, all of the trees had been marked down to $5.00!  This appealed greatly to Dale's sense of a bargain.  Of course most of the trees were beyond redemption but they had a couple of great big trees that were huge and still really green.  These were like 14 footers.  We figured out that we could tie them to the roof of my car, most likely without crushing it,  took a chance and took them home and cut them just about in half and we had two really beautiful Christmas trees...$5.00 each. Last year when we arrived unintentionally late, the trees were once again all $5.00, and they were fresh and lovely but all only about 3 and a half feet tall.  We tried a couple of other places in town, but no luck.  So we got creative with the 3 1/2  foot trees.  I knew Becky would be disappointed by the mini trees so I did a little creative stacking to make 2 trees seem almost like one in the family room and I thought it turned out pretty cute.  We had another small tree for the living room. When Becky heard about the mini trees though she drove all over Fullerton until she found a nice tree and drove out with it on the roof of the car.  I was already done decorating when she happily came home announcing that she had saved Christmas!  We set up the fourth tree on the other side of the family room!

Christmas 2009 double stacked tree
Unfortunately the past couple of years have just strengthened Dale's resolve that if we just wait a little while we can get a great deal on the Christmas trees.  Dale is by no means cheap.  He is a very generous person, but he loves a bargain!  I  like a bargain too but I like the feeling that I have the big Christmas tasks done and I also enjoy seeing the trees up for a while.  Early on I picked out a tree from Lowes and drove it up to Becky in LA so she had a nice tree, but Dale was intentionally dragging his feet on getting ours because he wanted that great buy!  So when we finally headed over to pick out the trees yesterday not only were the pickings horribly slim, the prices were not cheap!  Dale recognizing the impending "I told you sos!"  tried his best to sell me on a nice $30.00 partially brown model with a smooshed in backside.  No such luck, we went a hunting!  And of course I had to take a few minutes to re-educate him so that he did not miss the point that waiting on the Christmas trees was not always going to be a good thing!  Fortunately at this point, and to his credit, Dale became very eager to please me and so we hit up a couple of other tree lots.  It was raining, so it was not that easy to differentiate the totally dried out models.  My first clue that the trees at the Drug store were too dried out was when I ran my hand down the branch to check for loose pine needles and the whole branch came off in my hand.  Not a good sign!

And so began our 4 hour adventure in the pouring rain to find the perfect Christmas Tree. It rarely rains in Southern California, but as luck would have it we waited until we had a full on squall to bring a tree home.   After several failed attempts and a good soaking at every stop, we finally made our way to Green Thumb nursery.  I spotted our tree as soon as we stepped out of the car.  It was nice and green because it had been kept in a stand in water, had a nice shape and was half off!  We found another smaller one for the living room and loaded up on poinsettias while we were there.  I love shopping at Green thumb nursery.  Anyplace that lets me shop with a little red wagon is pretty cool in my book!

The trees are in and finally up and even though it was a long wet day, I spent it with my honey so we had a good time!  Merry Christmas!
Christmas 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

15 Year Anniversary

December 2nd was Dale and my 15th wedding anniversary.  My lovely sweet hubby surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of two toned ruby roses and a couple of lovely crystal wine glasses and bottles of wine.  The 15th wedding anniversary is crystal and roses and apparently mucus as it turns out.  I had tentatively planned a little overnight trip to what looks like a very cute hotel nearby in Riverside.  The Mission Inn hotel is in downtown Riverside and every year they have a "festival of Lights"  with about 3.5 million lights all over the outside of the hotel and nearby buildings.  I haven't seen it yet but I read about it in the paper and it  looks Christmas-y and fun and I thought would be kind of a neat way to celebrate 15 years together.  Unfortunately I have been fighting a cold since Thanksgiving and just when I was starting to feel human again, Dale came down with it.  So we agreed to postpone the celebration and  hopefully we will still make it out there this season.  Since I had been cooped up for too long, I went out and met Becky for a nice breakfast and visit in Fullerton before her classes and then did a little Christmas shopping.  Dale stayed home in bed, but much to my surprise when I got home he had crawled out and knew that the 15 year anniversary is crystal and roses and had purchased a beautiful bouquet of long stem roses and made up a pretty basket with the crystal glasses and wine.  What a sweetheart!  I knew there was a reason I married that man!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Small World Christmas With Small Ones

Monday brought a day of fun and adventure with my niece Melody, Jaina and baby Gavin at Disneyland. We wanted to go and see the beautiful christmas decorations, and we were not disappointed.  Disney really knows how to spread the Holiday cheer and it was lovely.  Gavin is such a sweet agreeable little baby.  He was adorable all day long and seemed to really enjoy being outside even though it was stinking cold!  

 Jaina has now reached the stage where she is requesting exactly which rides she wants to go on, which took her Disneyland loving mommy a bit by surprise.

We exited the monorail and couldn't get past the exit without Jaina stopping and insisting we ride the Autotopia.  This was a good deal for her since Melody and I did the rider switch so she got to drive twice.  It was a wild ride let me tell you with her completely in charge of the wheel.  Fortunately the ride has that lovely track running down the middle so you can't go too far off course,  and we came to know it very well from smacking into it as many times as possible.  I kept my foot on the gas and she steered us.  Here are a few pictures of her  taking me on a wild and crazy ride.
 Mr toad has nothing on her!
What a little sweetheart! 

 To my surprise she also wanted to ride the "Scary monster ride" which is the Matterhorn.  I kept asking her if she was sure, and she was, so she and I rode it, and she was quiet the whole time.  When we got off I asked her if she wanted to ride it again and she said no!  Not too sure she liked that one, but she didn't get upset and it was her idea!

I had such a sweet moment on It' s Small World, with Jaina in the crook of my arm and Gavin looking all around on my knee and their sweet mama by my side.  Small World is all done up for Christmas with really cute decorations inside and out and the chorus of It's a Small World is blended with Christmas carols.  What a great way to ring in the holiday. So much Christmasy love.  Jaina reached up with her little hand and cradled my face then rubbed her cheek on mine while we were mid-ride and I knew she was feeling it too.  So sweet!

Melody and Gavin

The Outside of the ride wasn't lit yet when we were boarding, but just as we pulled out and were in the best possible location in the boat, on sprang all of the Christmas lights outside, a spectacular "WOW".

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus!

On Sunday Dale and I went to Rogers Gardens in Newport Beach.  We picked one of the coldest nights of the year so far to do it, but it was beautiful.  It was so festive walking around in the wonderland of lit up trees in the garden.  There weren't very many people there that night and as we were strolling around towards  the back of the garden, out by the gazebo, we were very surprised to see Santa sitting way out there all by himself!  A very friendly but bored Santa, happy to see some visitors!  I wanted to take his picture but he said only if I was sitting on his lap.  So here I am after I don't know how many years, sitting on Santa's lap.  I've been very very good this year so I think that it was the best possible time to check back in with the big guy.  I am looking forward to a very Merry Christmas, Santa said so!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Hooray Autumn and Brett flew down for Thanksgiving and stayed with us a few days! Unfortunately the day of our celebration I came down with a bad cold which kept me out of the kitchen.  But Hooray again for Autumn, Brett and Becky for stepping up and making a delicious meal with home made pies and everything!  You guys rock!

Everything was delicious....and came seasoned with a dash of goofball!

Melody, Tim, Jaina and Gavin, the adorable Rosemeyer family!  It was so hard for me to keep my distance from everyone, but I didn't want to share the bug!

Auntie Autumn and Uncle Brett met Gavin for the first time.

Autumn sets up the table,

while Auntie Becky delights Jaina with how to ride a bucking turtle!

Cowgirl Jaina takes a turtle ride!
Finally a few quiet moments for Auntie Becky with Jaina! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm Dreaming of a Nutcracker Christmas....

It started innocently enough.   I remember very clearly (although Becky denies this), when she was a young girl of about 10 or so, Becky picking up a nutcracker in a store and proclaiming something along the lines  of "oh this is so cute?"   "How come we don't have one of these?"  I was some what surprised by the comment as I have always found nutcrackers to be fairly ugly and creepy with their nut eating mouths.  None the less being the attentive and resourceful mother that I am when after Christmas I spotted a package of 4 small nutcrackers, each about 4 inches tall and a good 50% off,  I picked up a box as a special surprise for Becky the next year.    Much to my dismay the following year, Becky picked up the package of nutcrackers and proclaimed them to be " the most hideous things on the planet".  "That is what I have always thought" I said in my defense.  And of course this was followed by her next question of "then why would you ever buy them".  I launched into my explanation of being a good and resourceful mother and that it all traced back to her original comment, but she of course wanted no part of it and denied that she would have ever uttered such a thing.  And so the question of what to do with the nutcrackers quickly arose.  A solution was found (and I can't honestly say who started this) when they began to show up with regular frequency in unexpected places. I found one buckled into my car, dangling from the chandelier,  hanging around my pitcher of Ice Tea, and inside my purse while I was out shopping.  The next day (or more likely later the same morning)  I put one under her pillow, hung one on the shower head, put one in her school backpack and one in her shoe.     Revenge came fast and furious with no one in the house safe from being "nutcrackered".  We surprised each other with them daily for the rest of the holiday season, and started a family tradition that held steady for each of the following years.

Becky lived at home her first year of college, but I was already formulating a tentative idea for the next year.  Unfortunately Dale and I had to take a trip during the month of December and we were gone for over a week.  When we returned home Becky and Autumn had been very busy turning our bedroom into a nutcracker wonderland.  Nutcrackers proved to be rather expensive but they had come up with the clever idea of making them from terra cotta pots, but when this turned too expensive they used paper cups stacked on each other and painted a pile of them to look like nutcrackers.  Hideous as they were it was also all very charming and of course I was stuck with them in my bedroom for the rest of the season.  

I knew that by the next Christmas Becky would be in her own place so being the resourceful and lucky mother that I am, when I happened into Target on the day of their 90% off clearance of all Christmas items and saw their piles of leftover nutcrackers too hideous to have already been purchased, well I just had to get me a cart full.  Oh the post holiday joy I felt loading that cart full of true treasures all at 90% off, why that was practically free, and so I felt completely justified in hitting up the next closest target for another cart full.  I had a lesson to teach...don't mess with Momma!  I also happily came upon (After a great deal of searching) on some nutcracker fabric with nice sized nutcrackers that could be cut out and appliqued on just about anything....and so I did.  Pillows, potholders, kitchen towels, stockings...whatever I could get my hands on.   That year I rang in the preseason with a lot of painting projects too.  Her apartment had a loft which I thought would be the perfect place for a nutcracker arcade..and so I created a few clever games all with a big ole nutcracker painted as the target.  I scored a bin full of nutcracker ornaments all heavily discounted prior to that year too.  With the help of her roommate who left the key out for me to get into her apartment (and later regretted this decision) her apartment was bedecked with wreaths and trees and swags of nutcracker garlands and nutcrackers everywhere!  Such a merry good time.  

The following year was rather busy with Becky's impending move to Chicago and not a lot of nutcrackering was done, but as a happy coincidence of that move out of her last apartment, I am now in possession of all of the nutcrackers.  What to do, what to do?  Becky's current place is well within a nutcrackering driving zone, and she has bemoaned her current lack of decor in the place..........still she has said she feels the place is a little bit dismal and really wants to use the holidays to fix it up cute.  The fate of the nutcrackers this year is yet to be determined but I guess I just want to point out to her the warmth and value from strong family traditions.  Traditions are what the holidays are all about....try to keep that in mind Becky!  

Is it just my imagination...or does Becky look more and more like a nutcracker every year?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Love L.A.!

Last night Becky and I went out to eat at this beautiful Japanese restaurant, Yamishiro, that sits  high on a hill in Hollywood.  We sat looking out at this incredible view while we had a cocktail and ate some dinner.  What was left of the stress from the drive up to Hollywood melted away and I felt very happy to be there enjoying that special moment with my lovely daughter.  I had driven to Hollywood to watch Becky's improv show at IO.  I left the house at 4:50 and barely squeaked in a couple of minutes after the show had started at 7:30.  Traffic stinks!!!  When I left the house I had envisioned arriving about a half an hour early and unwinding and relaxing while enjoying a glass of wine in the bar that is the entryway to the theater.  A perfect introduction to a comedy show.  Instead I self consciously crept in riddled with tension and a grumpy inner voice I had to quell that was grumbling "just try to make me laugh, suckers!"  Pretty much exactly the kind of audience member I envision all comedians want to perform for.  In spite of my irritable inner child, I did enjoy the show very much and had a wonderful time afterwards.   Turns out my fussy inner child settles down very nicely when given a nice white wine "bobby",  a pretty city view "mobile", and a darling little playmate to talk to.   Definitely worth the hassle to be part of the fun and enjoy time with Becky. 

 Fortunately coming home the roads were wide open and I got back in about 45 minutes.  Next time I go up by myself  I will leave even earlier and plan on finding a nice coffee house to hang out in for a bit.   

We loved this very pretty koi pond room at the restaurant.  We took a moment to decide if we wanted to eat in here, it is so cute, but in the end the beautiful city view won out.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Take me out to the ball game!

Saturday we brought our honorary nieces Lauren and Emily with us and Becky met up with us for a play day at Dodger's Stadium.  It was a fundraiser for C5 LA a great organization that supports kids in the inner city with leadership development programs and with very special summer programs on a ranch in Wyoming.  Dale is on the board of directors.  C5LA has a phenomenal success ratio, with 100% of the graduating group last year going on to attend college.

Batter Up!  The brave among us (Lauren, Becky and Dale),  hit a few balls pitched by Dodgers on the field.  First Lauren hit a couple, then Becky had a few good hits.

The Mighty Dale at  bat.  Dale had quite a few good hits!  I love how his tongue is sticking out a bit in this photo.  That is Dale's look when he is concentrating in sports. ( It totally cracked me up when we were taking ballroom dance lessons a few years ago and I would look up at him with his tongue out..very suave!)

After loading up on dodger dogs, soda and Cracker Jacks, the girls took a few moments to enjoy running around on the field, and we got a behind the scenes tour of Dodger stadium.

Afterwards we went over to The Grove to have dinner and check out the sights, especially the American Girl Doll Store, which we love!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

I love a reason to celebrate and last night was Halloween and so much fun!   My niece Melody and her husband Tim came over with little Jaina and baby Gavin and they really lit the place up.  We are all about trick or treating at our house.  I have a few strings of Orange and Yellow lights that I hang up and a giant pumpkin that really lights up the neighborhood.  I usually wait till the day of Halloween to hang them up.  This year while I was using my broomstick to reach the lights on the hooks I was thinking  how appropriate, me and my broomstick ride again!  My normally sweet and supportive husband Dale metamorphoses into the Grinch every year at the first sign of hanging outdoor lighting.  These were just a few strands of Halloween lights but he still managed to have to take a few very important business calls on Sunday, that got him completely out of helping.  Of course when the work was all done (and he knew it) he made a point of asking me if I needed any help.  Last year I left the lights up for a week and then convinced Dale when the the Halloween lights came down we should just put the Christmas lights up and not plug them in for a couple of weeks.  Which we did and I was glad to get it done but Becky was soooo disappointed.  She loves to be there when Dale has to deal with the lighting...totally cracks her up!   It was so inspiring she actually started writing a Christmas musical the year before....hope she finishes that one day, it was great.  Guess I better make sure we wait for her this year.  It's a slow process with Dale grumbling and Becky laughing and taking notes but it's tradition!

 Jaina was totally into trick or treating this year and Melody and I had a great time taking her around the neighborhood.  When we got home she really enjoyed working the door and would run for the candy bucket when she heard the door and gleefully proclaim "Here Pick one!"  Too cute!

We always have a couple of huge tubs of candy to give out on Halloween.  Dale is a two fisted door watcher and just loads them up when they come to the house.  It's always hard to calculate how much to buy.  Plus I have to figure in how much we are all going to eat that night...which is also a lot! Jaina had been hitting the candy pretty hard and her mom was telling her..."Jaina you have to eat some dinner if you are going to eat anymore candy!"  She had a bowl of spaghetti noodles that she had been ignoring.  It pretty much summed up the consumption of the night when I looked over and saw that she was eating the noodles but using a Kit Kat Chocolate bar as her fork!  

Gavin and my guy