Sunday, November 28, 2010

reason #423 why small hometowns are awesome

Danville has a tree lighting every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We have been fortunate to make it most of the past years. This weekend we were able to attend with our out-of-town guests, Papa, Grammy & Uncle Joe!

After some shopping in downtown Danville, we headed to Sideboard for dinner. In the entire town, there is no place we like to eat more than Sideboard--for breakfast, lunch or dinner! The food is so good, not to mention amazing coffee, tea, and baked goods. Sam wanted to wear Papa's hat and was making us all laugh with his funny faces:

You know the expression, "smiling eyes?" That is my dad to a T. He has the smiliest eyes of anyone I know, twinkly, crinkly eyes that express just how joyful and loving a man he is.

My baby, looking more like a grown man, sipping his hot beverage:

Uncle Joe, Grammy, Papa & Sam wait for the lights:

The countdown (eyes closed for greater impact):


The lighting is actually pretty uneventful. At least we could hear what was happening this year, so we were able to participate in the countdown. Regardless, it's a fun event and magical for the kiddos.

After the lighting we headed back through town just in time to hop on the San Ramon Valley Train Museum holiday train ride. Papa happily joined the kids for the trip around the street:

"Woo woo!"

Happy times!

Hooray for small town traditions! What are your favorite things about your hometown?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

oh happy day

Scenes from the table:
Maddie's turkey centerpiece, pear place cards, filberts from Oregon, ribbon-wrapped napkins, raspberry lemon tart, Maddie's very own "M"

A walk before dinner:

The sweetest boy:

Pre-dinner entertainment:

And dinner!
smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, butternut squash puree, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts with pomegranate molasses, cranberries, rolls, bread

Christmas came early for two lucky grandkids:
a new balance bike for Sam

and a new cruiser for the long-legged girl

Post-dinner walk with photo ops:
Tutu & Boppa

Grammy & Papa

The best-loved kiddos around!

And, best of all:
Jungle Gym Joe!!

So very thankful for God's abundant blessings in our family: more than enough love, good health, parents who love us and love our kids, aunts and uncles who are crazy and fun (we missed you, sweet Aunt Jennie), food for our bellies, a roof over our heads, cozy beds to sleep in, warm bodies to snuggle, and best of all, a Father who loves and cares for us all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


clockwise from top left:
friends who feel like family
a sweet girl who grows in intelligence, curiosity and joy each day
my little family (tear)
10 years of marriage to the love of my life
our families gathering once again for Thanksgiving
the happiest, loudest, best little climber around

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. May God richly bless your time of gratitude this weekend.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls!

You faithful readers know that I am a big fan of Pioneer Woman. With the holidays right around the corner, I really wanted to make some cinnamon rolls to serve my family for special occasion breakfasts. Once I saw PW's recipe with heaps of butter, loads of cinnamon, and maple flavored icing, I knew I'd stumbled upon something great.

I emailed some girlfriends to see who would join me in my culinary expedition, and, thankfully, everyone was game! I joked it was like a Food Network Challenge: seven adults, ten kids, 320 cinnamon rolls--can they pull it off? Well, with our fabulous, gifted and beautiful baking team ( Susan, Kelly, Mel, Bridgette, Sarah & Rebecca), I can say we did! At only two and a half hours and 41 tins of rolls later, I think we were all pretty proud.

The yeasty dough requires a few hours of preparation and rising, so Suz and I whipped them up the night before. Here are a few batches all rolled out and ready for filling:

To the top of the rolled dough we added melted butter, sugar and cinnamon, then rolled it up from the far long side, squeezing that buttery goodness out in the process (don't Susan and Kelly have wonderfully slender and delicate hands and fingers? Gorgeous!):

Even our big boys got involved, helping out in whatever way they could.
The Big Ts were expert rollers:

Sam was an expert mess-maker. (To each his own, right?) I think he is also a closet connoisseur of raw scraps and congealed butter/sugar/cinnamon goodness.

Here are our pans, rising and waiting for their turn in the oven:

And, finally, the maple-glazed, oven-baked, sweet-smelling, great-tasting (so I'm told; no sugar for me!) cinnamon rolls!

Thanks, ladies! I think we should definitely make this an annual event!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

don't do it, don't...

"Buddy, yuck."
still holding the camera
"Seriously, Bud. It's so yucky!"
camera continuing to snap pictures
"Ooo, yuck! Icky! Sand is icky!"
yep, still shooting
"So what do you think, Mr. Sandy Mouth?"
shameless snapping continues
Nearby, a mom watches in horror as my child eats sand.
Me, I continue in my quest for documenting the ins and outs of my child's life, mouths of sand and all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maddie: 46 Months

Dear Maddie,

Tomorrow you are 46 months old. Almost four. Yikes. I won't lie, the past few months have been difficult. The changes you are going through have stretched and challenged my parenting skills like never before. We've gone through cycles of frustration and anger, sadness and fear, running circles that often end up in sheer exhaustion. Yet I know that all this testing and stretching is producing some new, unforeseen, important changes in you. When you test the boundaries you want to know that I'm going to enforce them, that I'm going to be consistent, and that, most importantly, I'm always going to be here. And I will, sweet girl. Even if I need the occasional girls night out, glass of wine in the bathtub, or even five minute Mama time out, I'll always be around.

Persistence is the word that best describes you these days. (Well, to be honest, best describes how you've been since day one). You need to know everything about ev-er-y-thing. We are constantly conversing about the minutest of details, from what vultures are and how they eat (scavenging) to why you have to use certain fingers to get certain notes out of a recorder. You want to do all things right the first time, and get easily frustrated when things don't come easily. Take bobbing for apples. You weren't about to give up until you emerged with that apple in your mouth. And persist you did, sticking with it until, with a little bit of help, the bobbing was over.

Sometimes I have to remind myself you are just three. You are so mature, so capable, and so independent that I often rely on you to do too much. You still desire "mama time," still ask for "loves," and still want nothing more than to crawl in our laps and be cuddled. Whenever I feel like you are intruding on my space or inconveniencing my plans, I have to stop and think that you won't always want to sit on my lap while I eat breakfast, talk to me while I shower, or snuggle in our bed, with cold feet, at 5:30 in the morning.

You are an endless stream of funny stories, made-up songs, and imaginative scenarios. Every outing becomes an adventure complete with pirates, princesses, evil mothers (hmm. wonder where that comes from?), and rescues. You love to play school, ordering your Dad and I around and sending us to time out for not playing nicely and following directions. The names you come up with for your "students" never fail to make me laugh and you love to see me snicker, choosing zanier, longer and harder to pronounce names as you make your way around the circle of stuffed animals.

One of the things I love most about you is what a tender heart you have for your friends. When someone is hurt, you are the first to rush to their side, offering a hug, kind words, offering a boo-boo pack. You love to make friends at the park, coffee shop, or grocery store, offering up random bits of information about yourself or our family to get the conversation rolling:
"My Daddy tells people about Jesus."
"Oh, really, my dad gives people tattoos. He doesn't talk about Jesus."
"Okay. Let's go play. Wanna be my friend?"

You have a generous heart, often sharing with your brother without being asked. You always want things to be equal, so if you get chocolate it is only fair that Sam get some, too. You are a gracious host, finding friends and playdates snacks or drinks to eat. It warms my heart when at dinner you lovingly exclaim, "Mama! This is delicious!"

We're in the middle of a journey, and I have to believe that the long and difficult days will produce character change as much as the fun and carefree days produce joy. I'm thankful that you are my daughter and I get to experience the highs and lows with you. Forgive me for all the mistakes I make, remembering as I often say, "That's why we need Jesus." I don't know that I ever would have grasped just how deep and in need of grace I truly am without experiencing the hardest days as a mom.

I love you, my sweet, smart, witty and persistent girl.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Randomness in pictures

Taking my bi-monthly "School Year" photos of Maddie, she decided to to some poses of her own:

One of Sam's new favorite spots, on a shelf in the garage:

I'm in love with the fall colors right now. These trees along Tassajara are ablaze in reds, oranges and yellows:

One afternoon this week we dressed up as princesses and then toured the neighborhood. Wish I had a picture of myself, but here's Maddie:

Random week, random fun!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Samuel: 20 Months

Dear Sam,

Tomorrow you will be twenty months, two-thirds of the way through your second year of life! It is crazy how fast you are growing and changing these days. We watch with amazement as you play, laugh, tease and pretend; it is so fun to observe your metamorphosis from baby to boy.

You are still head over heels in love with all things transportation. You have unique sounds for countless trucks, trains, airplanes, vehicles and other modes of transport. Driving down the highway is always an adventure full of joy and noise! My faith in man has been restored in seeing drivers of garbage trucks, cement mixers, lifts, cranes, trains and pickups stop to honk, wave, wink or visit with you, their biggest and most exuberant fan. Any man in a uniform gets a hearty "Hi! Hiii!" and waves like your arms are on fire. The landscapers in our neighborhood now know to look up immediately and acknowledge your presence because you will pursue them relentlessly with your joy, squeals, and waves.

You are such a happy and content little guy, all the time. This month you sat in the stroller for an hour while I got my haircut. You waved at the pretty girls, smiled at your fans, and entertained yourself with hardly a peep. It is so easy to take you places, to run errands with you on my hip or in the cart, admired by little old ladies wherever we go.

You love to copy our actions and act out scenarios. In the picture above, you packed up your basket and were on your way somewhere, waving while joyfully saying, "Bye!" Before bath, you will sit on the potty for a few minutes, cross the room to get a pinch of toilet paper, sit down reach back and wipe your leg, stand up, cross the room, and drop the toilet paper in the real toilet. Then you'll repeat until eventually you decide you're finished and crawl in the bathtub. You are constantly stealing my mascara and makeup brushes, or Daddy's pens or tools, hiding away and employing them like a real grown-up.

You are the snuggliest, cuddliest, most lovey little bug. Multiple times a day you will call out "MAMA!" and run across the room to throw yourself in my arms. You are always laying your head on my shoulder, tucking your arms under your chest and lifting up your knees in a ball in my embrace. You sit on my lap and lean your head back in order to give me the sweetest kisses. Some nights you are in such an affectionate mood you will just hold my face by the cheeks and kiss and kiss until, eventually, you reach for your crib, saying, "Night-night."

You have your sister's sense of adventure, following her down all kinds of rabbit trails, getting into all kinds of trouble together, and laughing all the while. You adore her much of the time, tolerate her sometimes, and shove her away occasionally. You have started to exhibit classic little brother activities like pulling hair, stealing toys, and ruining play structures. You squeal with excitement and feistiness, making it SO hard not to laugh.

And, finally, my sweet boy, you love to run. Give you an open road, grassy hill, paved path or long hallway and you will take off. When Maddie started running away I was newly pregnant with you. I was winded and awkward and couldn't believe how frustrating it was each time she would struggle from my grasp and run in the opposite direction. But with you I can afford to give a head start, snapping photos and laughing to myself while you waddle away, sneaking coy glances over your shoulder, giggling, snorting, that long hair swaying as your arms pump furiously. Thank you for teaching me the joy of a second child, the freedom to make mistakes and let things slide, and for being such an incredible boy.

We love you, sweet, sweet Sam.



Thursday, November 04, 2010

I won a giveaway!

Yippee!! I have entered LOTS of blog giveaways over the years and this is my first win. :)

Now I feel the need to spread the joy and will have my very own giveaway soon. Hmmm...

Stay tuned, faithful readers. All 12 of you.

Osage in the Morning: A Study in Yellow