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Thursday, January 26, 2017

November 2016

This was a rough day.  Caleb and Landon have never been the kids who have drawn on walls or other surfaces around the house, not even as toddlers, so when I found this piece of work on the boys' dresser, I was shocked.  Sharpie.  Landon's traced hand.  And a trail of extra fingers (?) all the way across the drawer.  Whoa.  I was of course super upset with him, and Landon is our sensitive one who gets upset easily if we yell at him.  I said what I felt I needed to say, and then just stopped talking to him because I was so mad.  He was upset, and just laid in his bed watching me scrub away at it for thirty minutes, trying every trick to remove Sharpie from furniture that I could find on the internet.  I It did fade quite a bit, but when I finally gave up and turned to look at Landon, he had passed out on his bed, still in his Spiderman costume from earlier.  Poor guy.  Was this a result of exhaustion and a bad decision in the moment?  Was he still in that growth spurt that shot him up an inch and a half since July??  Who knows what caused him to do something so out of character, but looking at him sleeping on his bed made it hard for me to stay mad at my little Spiderman.

Las Vegas trip!  Me and my beau, 'Pitbull' (as everyone called him with these shades on), had a great weekend.  This was my second time to Vegas, and we told the group we were determined to see the Strip this time.  Last trip was during summer so we did little more than lounge at the pool.  This time we got some walking and exploring in. 

In front of the Bellagio.  Fountain wasn't on :-(

Inside our hotel at the Venetian

Meanwhile the boys had a fun weekend in Lodi with Papa and Nonni - they bought and packed several 'shoeboxes' with small gifts, toiletries, and toys for children of various ages, which get shipped around the world.  This program, called Operation Christmas Child, is coordinated by Samaritan's Purse, and several  churches and preschools in town participate.  Hundreds of shoe boxes (or more sturdy and reuseable plastic bins) are sent off from our town alone every year.  Imagine the impact combined with cities nationwide!

Went to see Trolls at the movie theater.  Papa wasn't so excited about this choice, but even he came out saying it was a cute movie at the end.

Every year I LOVE looking at these trees every time I drive by them.  I keep trying to capture a picture to show how they look in my eyes... The Gingko Trees in the Shady Acres center divide turn bright yellow, and the trees that fill our backyard with the most amazing red leaves, I just can't get enough!

November 14 - Landon's 5th Birthday!  
This year Jimmy took on a new work territory, passing on Hong Kong business to a fellow employee in exchange for Dubai and Saudi Arabia.  His first trip out to visit those places and the well-establish business contacts there happened to overlap with the day we had Landon's birthday party, so we did a family birthday dinner night to Rick's Pizza, on Landon's actual birthday, so daddy could still be a part of some birthday celebrations.  

Um, doesn't Landon look like he is in high school here???  I feel like its one of those pictures that are a glimpse into an older Landon.

Daddy gone = hands-off birthday party.  Landon celebrated with friends at SkyZone Stockton and had a blast jumped until they were drenched in sweat.

I actually had intentions of throwing a themeless party for Landon this year, but apparently he and Candace (our baker at the shoppe) had had conversations about what kind of cake he would like, in great detail.  So here is the finished product - three planets (cakes) - Chocolate (Landon's favorite), Lemon (my fav), and Carrot cake (Caleb's favorite - Landon made sure we had carrot cake for Caleb).  Actual Star Wars finger flier toys and figures positioned all over the cake. 

And of course some silly kids with party favors at the end... Baker and Caleb

Landon and Silas

Caleb's school had a celebration to honor Vets for Veteran's Day, and he asked if we could invite Papa Jim.  Jim was so proud to be there, and Caleb just as excited to have him.  He had a chance to say what division of the military, his rank and a few other details, and the students sang several songs to honor the Vets.  I wasn't able to attend, but the videos showed it to be a really nice performance that he enjoyed greatly as well. 

Dr. Landon "listening to my brain", as he said.

Jimmy was fortunate to have three contacts to meet up with during his trip to the Middle East.  The first was Tameem's cousin, Jameel, whom Jimmy has known for many years.  Jameel lived in Lodi for a time, but he now lives outside Dubai in a suburb called Sharjah, and owns a delicious burger joint called, get this - Jimmy's Shack Burgers.  Couldn't pass up a visit there!  

Fairytale land seems to have established itself in our yard this year... Crazy amounts of mushrooms growing all over (which we have repeatedly warned the boys not to touch or eat)

Western Day at Vinewood

David, Dana and the kids were in town visiting over Thanksgiving weekend.  They had helped coordinate plans for us to take the kids on the Polar Express train in Sacramento.  Dana found these super cute gingerbread pjs, to go along with the theme of the Gingerbread Car that we would be riding in on the train.  The kids had a great time, Landon loved his hot chocolate, Caleb didn't want any, as usual, and my favorite part was the guy who played the bum riding along on the train.  

Two videos from our train ride - click here and here, or on the two images below:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

October 2016

Earlier this year (April?) you may have seen my post about Jimmy's Patagonian Lamb that they built a whole contraption to cook on, and were able to recreate something he has been wanting to do for a long time.  This month he was excited to do another (smaller) feast, prompted by a group of visiting Argentinians here working the wine grape harvest.  This was an Asado Argentino, with everything being cooked over coals, served up as it is ready - a day of eating all afternoon and enjoying each other's company.  Good food, good and new friends, happy kids, and happy bellies!

This idea came after discovering that there were six Argentinians here working and living in Lodi for some friends of ours who grown and harvest wine grapes.  Some of them were winemakers in Argentina, and others just gaining experience in how the process works in other parts of the world.  Jimmy thought it would be so fun, for us and for them, to prepare them a meal like they have back home, since they have been here without certain comfort foods for a few months already.  They thought it was amazing, and were so impressed with how similar everything was to how they do it.  It was great fun to see their excitement and enjoyment!  Here is part of the group:

Here's the grill.  This grill was built by our friend Chris, and Jimmy, back when they build the double cross for the Patagonian Lamb.  Perfect surface to cook up short ribs, mollejas (sweet breads - the thymus glands from a cow), ribeye roast, chorizo, morcilla, Provoleta (melted provolone cheese with herbs that you scoop up with bread - yummmmmm), whole yellow onions, and veggies.  

The cooking of the onions was interesting to me - they left them skin on and whole, and put them right into the burning fire.  They quickly charred on the outside, but after being in the fire for maybe a half hour, they were taken out, the charred outer layers cut off, the onion sliced up, and a sprinkle of course ground salt on top, and we ate them along with the sliced and grilled veggies. Simple, rustic, delicious.  

The girl in the pink is one of the visiting Argentine workers.  She was in charge of the vegetables. 

Can't have an Argentinian party without some soccer!

Meanwhile, as all the adults are feasting on this delicious food, the kids were having another day of 'school' with Miss Ava Cataldo as their teacher.  This was a far lengthier and more involved session of school than they had in our backyard in September with her.  Here they are all set up with their desks, reading books quietly to themselves...

I managed to sneak a video of Miss Ava explaining to them what she expects them to be doing... click here.

Donuts with cousins in the morning

(At Target) "Whoa!  Mom, take a picture of us!!"  Like being next to the real thing, I guess.

At the beginning of our two week Fall Break, Caleb asked where we were going, since he had several friends at school talking about trips they were going on with their families.  We had none planned, so I tried to find some fun things for us to do, and it turned out to be a great week.  (We really only needed a week off, not two.  By week two it felt like too long. Hoping some day they'll change our schedule a bit and start us a week later in August!!)

First stop was Dell Osso Family Farms.  I was a bit hesitant at first, remembering friends telling me how expensive and crowded it could be, but we went on a weekday, right when they opened (Early Bird discount!) and practically had the place to ourselves.  Our neighbors Jacob and Haydon, along with their moms, all joined us.  The boys had so much fun together, had a picnic lunch, shot hoops side-by-side, went down the super slide about twenty times, rode the train, and of course, walked through one of the corn mazes.  

The boys each has a sponsor child that is the same age as they are, and one of them had a birthday coming up, so Caleb made a card.  I had to help Caleb with the Feliz CumpleaƱos part (happy birthday), but notice how he spelled his own name... He said "that's how you spell it in Spanish."  :)

The other side of Caleb's card to Deybi.

Another one of our Fall Break outings was two-parted.  Part 1:  Visit daddy's office in Lafayette (which none of us had been inside of) and have lunch with him at his Friday favorite, Patxi's Pizza.  Everyone in the office loved seeing the boys and how excited they were to be in daddy's office.  

Day trip Part 2:  The Jelly Belly Factory.
Its one of those places you've driven by a hundred times (especially me since I passed it each time I drove to or from college at Sonoma State), and always say you'll stop at some time.  Today was the perfect day.  It only took about a half hour to cut up from Lafayette to Fairfield, and the tour was delicious and pretty cool to see, too. 

Yes, alllllll Jelly Bellys in those bins.  

Daddy makes a mean inmitation of the boys' fav foods from the sushi restaurant.  They love it, and love using their kiddie chopsticks to eat it. 

Columbus Day.  Jimmy told Caleb that morning that he wanted him to learn something about Columbus Day and report back to him in the evening.  So we did a little research together and I explained to Caleb the following.  He decided he wanted to write it down so he wouldn't forget.  Daddy was pleased with the report :)

Learning to get over being grossed out by touching eggs...

Milestone accomplishment for Caleb this month:  He learned to tie his shoes!  
I had told him that once he learned to tie his shoes, he could get a pair of hightops, which he has been wanting for a while.  He was motivated, and we got him a pair of shoes during the break.  He quickly learned that on top of the challenge of being new at tying, hightops were kind of a pain in general to get on and off.  We worked through a few weeks of whining when he would put his shoes on, and I am hoping the next time we buy shoes he opts for some low-tops!

Fun dollar-bin find from Nana Dee!  

Even Candace got in on the fun!

My college roommate, Taylor, came to spend the night while Jimmy was out of town.  She came to Jazzercise with me, we enjoyed some delicious soup, and she even brought the boys some little games and played with them.  So fun just hanging out and having plenty of time to talk and catch up on life.

CRAZY rain storm + energetic kids = Great day to visit Bass Pro Shop!  We had never been, so it was quite a treat to see the huge fish tank, all the fishing and hunting gear (the boys thought it was pretty cool), the ski boats, and to sit on the quads pretending to ride them. 

The WOW Science Museum had a Pumpkin Chuckin' event.  Bring your own little pumpkin, clean out the inside, and then choose a machine to launch it from.  It was quite fun to see people's different size pumpkin fly various distances with different catapults. 

Video click here

Second Annual Cabrillo Circle Halloween Party!  This year it fell on the same weekend as the crazy rain storm, and being early in October there were plenty of leaves around the city to plug up storm drains, making for a flooded neighborhood and excited kids wanting to drench themselves in the enormous puddles!

Here is a view of the flooding in our neighborhood - the thin strip in the middle is the uncovered road.

After fighting Landon for a while on getting in the 'gutter', I decided to let him go for it, and then splash and run all the way home in the flooded gutters to take a warm bath!  He was in heaven!  Caleb, on the other hand, who hates cold water like his daddy, opted to stay dry and ride home in the car with me instead.

Field trip to the Sandhill Crane Reserve west of Lodi.  This was pretty interesting, and I came home with a plethora of new facts I had learned about Sandhill Cranes (including that the tall white ones we see around town are not cranes at all....they are actually called Snowy Egrets).  In the picture below the kids were pretending to be a flock of Cranes migrating.

Landon and his TK buddy, Silas, just sittin' around tossing someone's rocks after school one day.

Jimmy was excited to take the boys to their first 49ers game this year!  He had low expectations for their performance based on the trend of the season, but nonetheless it was exciting to take the boys to the new Levi's Stadium, and show them all around and where our season ticket seats are.   They got to choose their own new hat at the store there, and they ate non-stop until we refused to buy them more food.  At that point they were tired, over the game, and wanting to go home.  They were definitely on the young end to sit through a game, but Caleb had attention and interest in what was going on on the field.  Perhaps in another year or two Landon can enjoy it more as well.  

Pumpkin Carving fun... We were invited last minute to join our neighbors' annual pumpkin carving party and potluck, and the boys gladly dove right in to carving their pumpkins.  Landon was the only brave one to touch the pumpkin guts though.  The last picture is later that night, doing some quickie carving drilling holes into an already hollowed out pumpkin.  It ended up looking pretty cool and the boys loved getting to use daddy's drill.



Plenty of opportunities for dress-up fun this month...

Crazy Hat Day and Superhero Day at Landon's school

Scarecrow Day at Vinewood for the First Graders

Halloween!  Last year having a family theme for our costumes was so much fun we decided to do it again, this time with Karate Kid characters since the boys had recently watched it for the first time and loved it.  Caleb, who always likes the villains, wanted to be Johnny, Landon was Mr. Miyagi, Jimmy was Daniel and I was his girlfriend, Aly - dressed as the shower and angel (?) from the scene of their high school Halloween dance.  A lot of people liked our costumes but didn't recognize that they were from Karate Kid, but those who knew really loved them!  Wonder what we'll do next year...