Christmas 2011

Christmas Eve continued with its mellowness — after the Arroyo trip Bruce relaxed with a little boxed wine (the Solo cup adds to the classiness, no?) while we waited for Jamma to arrive.

Boxed wine in a Solo cup

Later, we had a roaring fire.

Roaring fire 2

Jamma brought her usual awesome assortment of ornaments. Here’s Bruce checking out his rooster (symbolic of the chickens we want to have).

Papa's rooster ornament from Jamma

Then the kids opened their presents.

Ezra reads "Ezra's Quest"

Hexbug hive

Finn tried out his new guitar.

Finn plays his new guitar

And so did Bruce.

Who's guitar is it?

Then we had dinner — we tried fondue this year because we don’t have a kitchen to cook much of anything else. It was good, although not exactly as I’d envisioned because I decided I didn’t want the boys sitting around a pot of hot oil so we cooked on one table and ate on another.


For dessert, we tried out Jamma’s new chocolate fondue pot. That was a much bigger hit with the boys.

Mmmm chocolate

Finn’s favorite was the chocolate strawberries.

Finn enjoys the chocolate fondue

In the morning, the boys awoke to two new Hotwheels sets (per Ezra’s list) and full stockings.

Hotwheels from Santa

Finn finds a mini Blue Bird in his stocking

Ezra, our little penguin fan, loved the Happy Feet 2 book in his stocking.

Happy Feet 2 novel in Ezra's stocking

Finn helped everyone go through their stockings.

Finn helps with Papa's stocking

Finn helps with my stocking

New scarf in the stocking

And then we had some eggs and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Bruce braved the cold to cook the eggs on the grill.

Camp Moision -- making eggs on the grill

Christmas Day was very low key. Bob, Vanessa and Thomas came up in the afternoon for another trip to the Arroyo (just the boys) and a trip to Zankou Chicken for dinner. We also did round two of the chocolate fondue.

Chocolate fondue, round 2

We celebrated with the rest of the family on the 26th at Grandpa Bill and Grandma Therese’s house. Great to see all seven cousins together.

Tossing blue bird

Present chaos

Opening presents

Christmas 2011

A slideshow of all of my photos is here.

Christmas Eve Day

The boys were up bright and early this morning — Finn came in to our room about 5:00 but then fell back asleep, thankfully. Ezra came in about 6:00 and then it was just too crowded for me so I got up to make some coffee. I was joined, shortly thereafter, by Ezra who came downstairs and said, “Mommy, I think it may be Christmas Eve and that’s the day we get to open one of our presents.” I held them off as long as I could … until just before 8:00 a.m.

First presents -- 7:59 a.m. Christmas Eve

Later Bruce took the boys on a bike ride in the Arroyo, which gave me time to finish wrapping the last two presents for the boys. I also straightened out the stockings and came upon Ezra’s updated Christmas list, which I have to share.

Ezra's updated Christmas list


Ezra’s Christmas List

1 Hexbug Hive
2 Hotwheel sets
1 Cars 2 Color Changers set and 1 different car
2 remote control spiders that can walk on the wall and the ceiling
1 nonfiction Emperor Penguin book
2 Emperor Penguin stuffed animals
2 Emperor Penguin costumes
2 Hexbugs
1 Emperor Penguin hospital
2 remote control off-road trucks

There are two of things because this stuff is for Finn, too, which is sweet. I think my favorite misspelling is “zeeling” for ceiling.

New Walkway

The landscapers made a lot of progress in the front yard this week, namely, they completed the new walkway. Here are some photos of how it came together.

Front stairs progress

Walkway progress

New staircase complete

Grout - final step of the new walkway

And after final completion, here’s the view from the sidewalk.

View from the sidewalk

And from the porch.

View from the porch

They also marked out the boundaries for the DG pathways and delivered a bunch of the boulders that will make up the “wall” in the very front. The boys are already utilizing both exactly as we’d hoped.

Pathways marked

Pathways marked

Ezra dances

Playing in the front yard

The boys are really enjoying the process — the cement mixer was a huge hit this week, and Finn, of course, could chat with the workers all day long. Luckily, they are all very nice and seem to be amused by his chatter.


Finn watches (and chats with) Victor

Finn and Ezra watch Victor

Projects, Week 2

Well, we’re into week 2 in the kitchen and with the work interruption caused by the windstorm, it’s pretty much week 2 for the landscaping as well. We’re seeing some progress in this long haul.

First, we have new lights and rough electrical in the kitchen.

New lights

And they’ve started the new walkway to the front door. We are widening the path and doing it in broken concrete. We’re also moving the stairs closer together to make them less of a hazard (and less haphazard looking), and the path will have less of an incline.

Beginnings of a new walkway

Random Weekend Photos

A few random shots …

Finn tries to open his apple juice at Friday’s late afternoon lunch-dinner.

How to open a juice bottle

Finn’s sparkly CD (or DC, as he calls it) ornament that he made at Cottage. It’s hard to see just how sparkly it is, but trust me, he had fun with the glitter.

Finn's sparkly ornament/tree topper

Ezra’s photo taken out his window from the 5 freeway. Pretty good!

Ezra's shot from the car

And finally, a little snuggle time.

Snuggle time

Meeting Logan

We went to Dick and Claire’s for dinner on Saturday night and finally (!) Leah got to meet my boys and we all got to meet 2-1/2-year-old Logan. What a cutie! The boys loved playing with him; Finn, I think, loved being the big kid.

They played trains.

Ezra and Logan build a train

Did some somersaults.

Gymnastics a la Finn and Logan

Lounged in the crib.

Finn and Logan in the crib

Logan pointed out how many girls and boys we had in the room.

Logan points out the girls and the boys

And he found another use for the train bucket.


Great to see everyone!

Cottage Holiday Potluck 2011

We attended our last holiday potluck at Cottage this past Friday. Hard to believe our four years there are coming to an end.

Finn had his usual good time, and Ezra was already on winter break so he got to join in the fun, too. Here they are with some friends.

Eating with friends

Later there was lots of playing in the yards.

Finn not looking

And everyone got into the act during the singalong.

Ezra plays

Holiday potluck

Here’s a video from our first Cottage holiday potluck in 2008 when Ezra was in the Oak Tree class and Finn was 20 months old. Ezra wasn’t crazy about the chaos and was laying down the whole time. (The video quality is terrible but I haven’t figured out how to fix it.)

New Window!

The framers came yesterday and demolished a bunch of the [poorly installed in the last remodel] stucco around the old window and reframed the wall for the new window. At one point, we just had a very, very large hole.

Reframing the new window

But by the end of the day, voila!

New window

They also created the arch for the newly-arched doorway.

Newly arched doorway

Today was plumbing and electrical day. I think the plumbing is going well, but the electrical is a bit of a mess. Not surprising in a house this old that’s gone through a couple of kitchen remodels. I mean, seriously, check out these old panels. What could be wrong?

Old electrical panel

Unfortunately, the electrician couldn’t finish today and is already booked on another job tomorrow, so everything has to wait until Monday. Bummer.

On another note, the landscapers finally showed up again. They busted out the old walkway. Finn really enjoyed watching them, although it was a bit loud.

Beginning the demo on the walkway

Busting out the concrete


Ezra’s Family Project

Aveson assigned an optional Family Project that was due this week. They’ve been studying American landmarks and symbols and they were asked to choose a country, learn about its landmarks and symbols and make a replica of one place there. Ezra, of course, chose Belize, and he wanted to make the Mayan temple we climbed this past summer.

We thought for a while about building materials, and on Sunday he built “El Castillo” from the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich made out of chocolate marshmallows. Here are some pictures of his process. (Finn got into the act and made a project of his own.)

Decorating the Mayan temple

Working on class projects

Ezra's project

Finn's project

On Monday afternoon, I put together some pages with a few facts about Belize and Xunantunich and he glued on pictures from our trip there and stapled it into a book. Today, he presented his project to the class.

Ezra's "El Castillo"

He was very proud.

Ezra shows off his project

After school we were able to take a look at all the projects and I took a few pictures.

Ruby’s bald eagle.

Ruby's Bald Eagle

Lucy’s Eiffel Tower.

Lucy's Eiffel Tower

And one of the second graders did Stonehenge! (Minus the band.)


Kitchen Demolition

Demo started in earnest today. Here’s a truck full o’ kitchen.


The broken window box is now totally gone. Yay!

Window box be gone!

The kitchen now looks like this.



We found a few artifacts: first, a bit of the original linoleum floor.

Artifact: original linoleum floor

Also cool, some sketches of wrought iron designs for the staircase. These are on one of the vents for the heating system.

Sketches of staircase wrought iron on the vent

Next up, framing for the new window! For now, the boys check out the spectacle. Ezra’s statement upon walking into the kitchen this evening: “Now that’s not something you see everyday!”

Bruce shows the inner workings to the boys

The Boys’ Tree

The boys have their own little Christmas tree in their room. They chose ornaments that they knew were theirs (and they continued to steal more off of the big tree well after I asked them to stop). Needless to say, they have a unique decorating style.

Ezra and Finn's Christmas tree

JPL 2012 Olympics Promo

In 2008 Bruce had an idea to put on an Olympic competition for his Section at JPL during the time when the Summer Olympics were happening. He and his colleagues then organized a four-event (running, cycling, chess and Boggle), multi-day competition, complete with a torch relay, and opening and closing ceremonies. For the closing ceremony, he made a film showing highlights from the events. It was a huge hit.

Last week, the person organizing this year’s Section Christmas party asked him if he could do short promo film as a teaser for the 2012 Section Olympics. So, here is the fruit of his (and Aaron’s) weekend labor.

Gettin’ Our Christmas On

In an effort to retain some semblance of normalcy during our remodel, and because our front window screams out for a Christmas tree, we spent a good portion of today gettin’ Christmassy. We went and got a tree — luckily I was able to talk Ezra out of the blue-flocked one.

At the lot

It’s up! Man, that’s a tall one.


After I hauled all the boxes up from the basement, the boys had a blast going through all of the ornaments. (Fun for them; nervous breakdown for me — some of these ornaments are very old and fragile!)



Ezra examines an ornament


Digging into the ornament boxes

After an emergency trip to Target to get more lights, Finn and I started putting the ornaments on the tree. (Ezra and Bruce started working on his Aveson family project.) It was chaos.

Christmas decorating chaos

But after a while the tree was done, the stockings were hung, and the room looked like this.

Christmas decorations

And the train is running.

Running the train

It feels a lot like Christmas around here.




Kitchen Remodel

Our kitchen remodel is officially underway … although demolition was postponed until Tuesday. However, on Friday they came and removed the old appliances, moved the fridge and the dishwasher for safekeeping, and taped off the floors and doorways. It now looks like this.

Ready for demo

Ready for demo

We had lots of help from Finn when we cleared out the kitchen last week.

Clearing out the kitchen

And we’ve moved into our temporary barebones kitchen (in the dining room). I like to call it Camp Moision. It has all (well … both) of the basic necessities: coffee and cold cereal.

Camp Moision

After planning this remodel for months, we are more than ready for it to start. And, even though I’m sure there will be more delays, I’m hopeful we won’t go too far beyond the 8-10 weeks we were told the project would take. It’s gonna be hell. But a couple of my friends who have been through remodels tell me it’s like childbirth — it hurts like nobody’s business, but I won’t remember the pain the minute I lay my eyes on my new kitchen.