Thursday, December 25, 2008

And to all a good night.....

First of all, a Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you enjoyed your holidays and spent them with those that you love the most. We had a wonderful and blessed Christmas this year, but are exhausted from it!

We started off by going up to Chico on the 23rd to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my mom's side of the family. They are a great group that we just don't get to see often enough! Alex wore himself out playing with his cousins Jack and Nick who are 11 and 9. Jack and Nick were also thrilled to meet their newest cousin Amelia who they hadn't see yet.

We took lots of great pictures Christmas Eve you can see.

Then we had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and then opened presents that night, as is tradition in my family. Who would have known there was a recession going on??!! My goodness! As you can see there were plenty of presents to go around.

This morning we opened our Santa presents. Alex was beyond excited that he got what he had asked Santa for, a Little Einstein's red rocket. It was funny though because as soon as he opened it up he was done - he said "I don't need anymore presents, thanks." Note to Santa for next year....

After Christmas breakfast we packed up and went to go see my dad's side of the family in Sacramento. We visited my grandma and aunts and more cousins. Amelia and Olivia got to see each other during both of their first Christmas's!

After leaving my grandma's house we went to see Grandma and Papa Toy who used to babysit me as a kid! They adopted me into their family and are like a second set of parents to me so we always like to stop by and visit them whenever we can. We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas lunch at their house and they spoiled Alex and Amelia (as well as Paul and I!) as usual!

On our way home the kids were cranky as were Paul and I but I reflected on how fortunate we are to have one another and a loving family. I know it sounds so corny but when I look at all the sadness in the world, and I see plenty of it in my line of work, it really makes me appreciate having such wonderful family and friends to spend the holidays with.

And speaking of fortunate....we are off the the beach for a week on Saturday! Lovely Cambria and Moonstone Beach! It will be a crazy day tomorrow of laundry and packing then repacking but we are excited! Stay tuned for beach pics!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Santa Experience

I have been dying to take both kids to see Santa but was not looking forward to the long Santa lines at the mall. Since I am now working full time I was worried I'd have to deal with the lines at the mall during the weekend (gasp and shudder in horror was my reaction). Instead we snuck in an early evening trip to the mall tonight and waited a whole 15 minutes to see Santa.

Alex was back and forth about the thought of Santa. He was very excited to ask him for his Little Einstein Red Rocket but at one point was also very concerned that Santa would eat him. I have no idea where he gets these ideas in his head I swear! After some convincing that Santa is a good guy he took a very nice picture. Much better than 2 years ago which involved a screaming picture, but every kid must have one of these!

Amelia was quite intrigued. She was most intrigued by his beard and deep down, Paul and I were hoping for Amelia to grab a handful and yank just as the photographer took the picture with Santa surprised by her death grip. Would have been a very unique photo...but instead she was quite happy with the jolly old Saint Nick and hung in there. We will see what happens next year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Whirlwind weekend!

It was a busy weekend in the Soares household this weekend. Friday night we had a little Christmas party at our house which was lots of fun. Mostly old friends from college, but some news friends too. As always we enjoyed lots of food and wine and did a very fun White Elephant gift exchange. The photo above of the bottle of wine is a 6 liter bottle Paul and I had picked up at one of our favorite wineries earlier this year. We saved it for a special occasion and had everyone who attended sign it.

Saturday we left for Turlock to join our children who had been spending some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa Soares (allowing us to have a kid free party). Paul's parents are flying up to Canada for 3 weeks to spend Christmas with Paul's sister's family so we celebrated an early Christmas with them this weekend. Paul's parent's church does a big festival so Alex attended the festival with Paul's parents Saturday night and we went to yet another Christmas party at Paul's friends Nelson's house. It was a beautiful dinner with some old friends.

This Sunday morning we opened gifts and had an early Christmas lunch. Alex got a truck and Amelia got her first little "learning" purse from Grandma. Really it is too cute.

After we got back to Fresno this evening we went over to our good friend's Dave and Debbie's house where Debbie taught me to make the world's best almond toffee. To die for!!! I now hold the secret and plan to make a few more batches, along with some fudge, later this week. A busy weekend for sure but lots of fun was had by all of us! Now I just need to hit the treadmill due to all these great meals and treats!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A gingerbread weekend

My mom came down this weekend to visit her beautiful grandchildren and also to make cookies with me. Amelia got in the holiday spirit by being decked out in her gingerbread cookie outfit - so cute!!! We made plenty of gingerbread cookies (my favorite!), stained glass ornament cookies and persimon cookies. The stained glass ornaments were new this year. We got the cut outs at William Sonoma and you cut out the cookies and then melt broken lifesavers in the voids that are left from the cut outs. Pretty cool!

As always Alex was the helper in the kitchen. His favorite is always eating the cookie dough in the end!! He got a little gingerbread apron that he loved and wore while he assisted in the kitchen. He was kind enough to also taste test our final products and he gave the thumbs up for all our hard work!!

I am exhausted as I type this after 2 days of baking and decorating but am happy with the results. A lot of these cookies are going to my co-workers, neighbors or friends this week. I plan on having a few other small baking nights during the week this week and then my friend Channone is coming up closer to Christmas to make some cookies as well. I also hope to make some toffee and fudge. What is Christmas without those lovely holiday pounds?! I plan to relax tonight with a glass of wine and a hot bath. But first we are going to Christmas Tree Lane to look at lights and continue enjoying the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Saying good bye to Pulga

I am sad to say that Pulga is no longer with us. She is in a better place now begging at the dinner table and snuggled up somewhere in the great beyond. Many of you know that she had a liver problem diagnosed as a young pup and in the end it flared up and caused complications that were to difficult to fix. As any of you who have lost a pet knows, losing a pet that has been in your family is a very sad thing to go through. Pulga drove me up the wall at times, but she was my first 'baby' and was there for me after my dad died.

I posted this picture of her as a baby, she is only about 8 weeks old in this picture and it was her first day home with us back in our old apartment. She weighed 1.2 pounds when I first brought her home. Paul and I put a collar on her with a bell because we were afraid we would lose her. I also remeber that Alex's first word was Pulga. Her behavior these past few months has been horrid, but I now attribute this to her health problems (I too am cranky when I am sick) and I feel a lot of guilt. I am trying to focus on the good memories and get used to her not being around. Earlier the doorbell rang and I prepared myself to wrangle her in and calm her barking only to remember she is gone now. We are left with our memories, some good and some bad. But she was a part of our lives and will never be forgotten.