Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

From last night:

Section Austria:

The arena before showtime:

After the show, Blake got to thank the King of Austria for putting up a good fight for us:

Blake was really rooting for the Dragon (the bad guy). We are happy he has such great role models:

Today -

We found the right pub after being seated at the wrong pub and having to get up and leave. This pub has 300 beers on tap. Andrew had 5 tasters plus a big burger:

My goal for today was to explore the Paris Hotel:

They have a great shop/restaurant called the Sugar Factory that peaked my interest before setting foot into Las Vegas. It didn't let me down:

Actually, I loved it so much I called the Dal Toro and cancelled our New Year's reservations, giving up our table amongst Ferraris, in exchange for reservations on the patio at the Sugar Factory. It will be a prefixed 4-course menu where we can watch the fireworks shoot off up and down the strip. Too bad we won't be able to order the $1,000 gold chocolate fondue item off their regular menu:

I think Andrew is coming down with the flu because he has been sick in the hotel room and is walking around in a jacket complaining that it is cold. Hopefully, he will make it through the night okay and better yet, not be sick for the flight home tomorrow. Please pray for him while I put on my best fake drunk girl face for the party tonight! Oh, and pray my kids don't wake up before 1am and realize there is a babysitter in the hotel room instead of us!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Next Day

Today we saw the sights at a bit of a slower pace. We knew what to forego and what to focus on.

My thoughts this morning:
*I love how there are bathrooms every 10 feet in this town (a pregnant woman's dream and they are all clean to boot)
*Do people really think they are cool drinking out of kitsch, life-size, plastic guitars with accordion straws?
*Next time I visit I will stay in a centrally located hotel

Things we did before crashing at the hotel before our family show:

I love seeing this Jelly Belly Statue of Liberty every time we walk through New York, New York on our way back to our hotel:

The future Andrew and Shannon:

Goal #1 accomplished. Get family photo taken with showgirl at Harrah's:

Goal #2 accomplished. We saw the chocolate fountain at the Bellagio. It set a Guinness Book World Record and is the "world's largest chocolate fountain." It is cool, but I would have liked to have seen something like in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie:

In case you wanted to replicate the fountain in your home:

Two hours until showtime. We got tickets to the Tournament of Kings where Blake and Reade can watch real knights joust and fight while the adults eat turkey legs.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vegas! Baby!

Nobody ever said, "Vegas is like Time's Square on crack." This place is fabulous. I can't believe it took me 33 years to get here. I love this place. My legs and feet hate this place. Maybe being three + months pregnant isn't ideal, but I am still having a blast.

Some of my thoughts:
*Buffets are not that great
*Blake and I cannot take our eyes off the girls who dance in the casinos on top of the card tables
*New Year's weekend is very busy
*The hotel rooms and kid arcades don't actually smell like smoke
*They have Hudson Newsstands in the NV airport
*Three days is not enough time to check this place out. Actually, it is probably a good amount of time, but everything is so dang expensive there is no way to do it all in the time you are here.

A not-so-great Elvis:

Bumblebee on the street. Blake's dream come true:

One of my childhood favorites. Am I really the only person who loves Chuckie movies?:

The fountain show (short and semi-impressive) in front of the Bellagio. I really liked seeing this sight because it was featured on an episode of the Bachelorette. They made her and her date sit on a faux island in the middle of the fountains during a show. The TV made it look fantastic, but in real life I can only imagine how uncomfortable that would have been. Awkward date for sure:

Our home away from home. Blake loves the castle theme. We are 5 stories up with a beautiful view of a brick wall (10 feet away), the pipe in the bathroom detached and sent sewer-smelling water all over our bathroom floor, and the bathroom has mold on the ceiling. Not the absolute worst (a place in Tahoe takes that cake) and not the best (we just stayed in a hotel in Fresno that tops my list):

My legs are begging for the Monorail tomorrow so I hope we get to incorporate that piece of transportation.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011


The Winter Solstice used to be my favorite day of the year. Having children has changed my view of the sun. I used to loathe it, but now it comes in handy because it is easier to send the kids outside to play. We celebrated with Andrew's mom, dad, and sister (+1 - Rik). At Thanksgiving, my mother gave me an authentic Swedish pig advent candle holder. I was horrible at remembering to light it each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas so we lit them and said all of the advent prayers in one evening. I hope to be more on top of things next Christmas season:

One true Catholic plus some stand-ins:

Rik whipped out his 5-Santa Christmas vest for the occasion. Yes, there are four Santas in the front and one Santa in the middle of the back. He picked it up at a vintage shop when he lived in NY so we encouraged Ellen to put one of hers on so the Christmas spirit would be busting at the seams. Boy was it:

Tonight is a night of gathering. I hope we won't look like Hansel and Gretel and leave bits and pieces behind as we go to spread cheer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The noise in my head has been so loud today. The hustle and bustle that my neurons are making in my head cause me to focus on the tasks that help keep the calm. That includes:

Dehydrating more persimmons (round 2). I went to the organic garden supply to buy some magic bees wax lotion and found a basket of "free" persimmons for the taking. My solution, cube them instead of slice them and add them into the granola mix once the granola has baked. I love to cut the core into pieces so I can enjoy their stars:

Baking the Christmas bread. Batch one is fun and batch two tires me out a bit. I like focusing on the finishing touches:

The nativity scene is getting a bit noisy too. Animals are stirring and Mary is lying down getting ready for her labor to start in a matter of days. I know they speculate that Jesus probably was born in spring, but I still give the wooden Mary a shout out for those nine months of pregnancy:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I know you all need help finding that one person that one special gift. If you are pressed for time or you haven't gotten Aunt Flo that perfect gift then head on over to your local CVS (RIP Longs Drugs) for this needle in a haystack:

I was in CVS to buy maraschino cherries and spice drops and stopped in my tracks when I saw this. How great is this? Who is brave enough to put this on their face?

Monday, December 19, 2011


We were super fortunate to have been on the guest list for another wonderful wedding. Andrew's friend Jared got married at Ruby Hill Winery in Livermore. It was a great venue and the food and cake was top notch.

A great ceremony filled with just the right words:

Sealing the deal with a kiss:

Presenting Mr. and Mrs.:

My friend loaned me another metallic dress so I wouldn't "shine" so much:

Their first dance:

The scrumptious cake. They had a candy bar (why didn't I snap a picture of that?) that filled me up before cake so I only ended up eating one piece of cake. It was a shame because they offered three different flavors to chose from:

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I booked it. With my husband's permission I decided the best place to relax post-Christmas would be Las Vegas! I have never been and I am just sure it is the perfect place for a one and three year old!

The Excalibur hotel was my top pick so Andrew can sleep like a king, I can sleep like a queen, Blake can sleep like a prince, and Reade will probably sleep like a gambler (down at 8 and up at 3am).

Anyone else want to join us???

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Blake went out with a bang on his last day of preschool at Montecito. They had their annual Holiday Sings event where the kids sang, decorated cookies, then sat on Santa's lap. I have mom guilt knowing that he will be leaving his best friend behind so I can only hope he enjoys his classmates in his new school.

Don't expect much out of Blake this time around. He just stood there, bit his lips (his first visible habit picked up from his mother), and wiggled a little. I asked Blake if he wanted to wear his, as he puts it, "elvv" hat to school. In the car he said he needed two circles of red on his cheeks. Reade took a nap at grandma's house so Aunt Jessica was just the one to ask for red, rosy "elvv" cheeks. What a good elvv he was:

Decorating cookies with his favorite pals:

Santa's lap has become a familiar place for Blake. This time he asked for a candy cane for Christmas:

Now, for a good laugh. This is the picture from the Google Holiday party and boy did those cameras bring out the shiny in my dress. I swear to God that thing didn't look so metallic in the dim, ambiance lighting. I look like a pregnant mess of tin foil. That is what I get for sqeezing my pregnant body into a non-maternity holiday dress. I will be wearing this dress to a wedding this weekend so watch out bride and groom, hormonal woman in heavy metal will be throwing off the photographer's lighting:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Although I didn't walk out to my backyard forest and cut down my own tree or create the most magical Christmas banners, there are things in my life that make me feel just as warm and fuzzy inside. Here are some of the things that remind me we are in the thick of the holidays.

Andrew's parents always had a huge box of satsuma tangerines on their front porch back at the farm. You would walk out of the kitchen into the freezing cold to grab a handful of sweet deliciousness. Ellen brought over a box for our very own front porch. I tried to put them up so the ants wouldn't get them, but it has been the kids who get into them more often than not. They fill up their car, drive it around to the back, and fill buckets near their playhouse. My rule is that the tangerines need to find their way back to the box by sun down:

My refrigerator now has that tell-tale bag of cookie dough just waiting to take shape:

Our tree is up. Yes, we bought it at Osh. Yes, it looks emaciated in regards to ornaments. I love to make my own ornaments with gingerbread dough, but those darn ants put a monkey wrench in that plan. I did manage to braid some yarn, add some Ikea decorations to the strand, and drape it around the tree as my homemade garland. That is good enough and makes me smile:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Google Holiday Party

It is that time of year again when Google throws one heck of a party for the engineers. This year our theme was 1940's on an aircraft carrier (USS Hornet). The carrier has been turned into a museum and we went on many tours and heard lots of great war stories.

Here is a terrible picture of the ship as we approached it:

They had a band playing Christmas music next to the loading ramp:

Inside we helped ourselves to some drinks while watching the swing dancers start up their routine:

There were dioramas with different mannequins throughout the ship. This guy was in quarantine in an airstream trailer:

The food was excellent, as it always is, and were set up by ports of call. France had delectable desserts, Puerto Rico had yummy stuff chock full of nuts (couldn't taste those), and Italy had yummy food I never got around to trying. Here is one of my favorite new inventions:

Andrew gobbled up tons of sushi from the Okinawa, Japan port of call:

The photos we took together aren't posted yet, but I will add that one when it gets put on Google+. Thanks Google for a great evening of fun. Andrew and I really enjoyed getting away from the house for an evening and learned lots of historical and nautical facts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Did I jinx myself by saying bigger things were sure to come? I now know I am brave enough to sit there while my kid's head gets stapled. Blake and Reade were running around the living room and Blake knocked into Reade. He slowly fell, bonked his head on our brick hearth, and started to bleed. I hoped for glue. He got staples:

Andrew's hand looks so big in comparison to Reade's little head. He was so brave.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Blog world meet baby #3!

Here is baby at my 9 week ultrasound:

Here I am showing off my bump at Thanksgiving:

Today, we had our nuchal translucency screening (testing for Down Syndrome and Trisomy 18 defects) and found out we are having a little girl! and she is healthy and without the defects mentioned above. She has a different facial structure than her brothers and I can only hope that is a good thing:

We are really excited and I am happy I can sigh a breath of relief now that we are through the first trimester. I have morning sickness (threw up this morning, thank-you-very-much-baby), am freezing cold at all times (I think she is hogging all my blood), don't want to eat sweets (but continue to because that is sort of hard wired in me now), love Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and crave salami sandwiches (new on the Philly's, not a new concept with the salami).

Baby is due June 19th. Should make for an exciting summer. We are hoping/planning for another home birth. My preeclampsia issues linger in my memory, but my midwife likes the idea that I won't be preeclamptic this time around. I am going with it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


My nana sent us home with four, beautiful persimmons to enjoy at our leisure. I dehydrated the persimmons into tiny fruit leathers to be added as the dried fruit portion of homemade granola.

Step 1: Dehydrate Persimmons (check)
Step 2: Eat some (yum) and have kids help tear them into tiny pieces (check)
Step 3: Make granola concoction (check)
Step 4: Stick in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, mixing every so often (check)

Step 4 is where things went wrong. I had mixed the granola twice and it was looking golden and perfect. Then, the smoke happened. In seconds, the persimmon bits just turned to burnt crisps. They took the coconut with them. My golden orange bits looked like burnt cranberries:

I took the granola out of the oven and put it all back on my dehydrator trays in hopes of drying out the remaining oil and salvaging it. Even plain yogurt can't mask the taste of burnt:

I am so disappointed I have to throw four trays of granola out. Bum deal. It is one of those things that makes you extra upset because this was not on my holiday "to do" list. Had it worked out, I would have been proud of myself for squeezing something in for myself. That will teach me:

Monday, December 5, 2011


Red Envelope was selling, they are out of stock now, mid-century gingerbread homes you could order with your family name on it. Silly, but cute:

We can't make a gingerbread house this year because our mid-century home swarms with ants the minute we leave something sticky or sugary on any counter or surface.

I got as far as putting our wreath on the front gate.