Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Moutain Biking

Eric Striplin and Russ rode to the top of Bald Mountain (elev. 2,387 feet), and the view of the Bay Area was exquisite. We could actually see the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, which was approximately 25 miles north! Actually, we could see well beyond that, but what a neat landmark to be able to see from such a distance.

As usual, we had a great time. Eric is so passionate about this sport, and his passion is very contagious, dangerously contagious. The risks involved are considerable, and the work you put into the climbs is substantial. The payoff, which is nothing more than a stunning view of the Bay Area or the ability to "Bomb" down the backside of the mountain is 10 times better with another person there to share it.

Wanna see Russ' next bike? Posted by Picasa

Merry Christmas!

We had a great Christmas.

First, we went to Mass on Saturday night, and then to dinner at Pasta Pomodoro immediately following. Saturday night, we went to Pasta Pomodoro first, and then to Christmas Vigil at 6. Christmas Vigil was crowded with all of the CEOs (CEO = Christmas and Easter Only) and regulars, but we arrived early enough to get seats for all 5 of us. Mass featured a nice combo band of Parish teenagers, and they did a great job with the hymns, carols, and Mass parts. Father Ives delivered a nice homily, and it was a nice celebration of Jesus' birthday. Perhaps the greatest part of it all, is that the kids were in bed by 8!

Christmas morning arrived, and Anthony and Chas awoke first - they came storming into our room around 5:50 ready to head downstairs and tear into the gifts. Unfortunately, Starks didn't wake up until 7:00AM, which meant we all had to wait until after 7 to head downstairs and experience Santa's offering.

They were blown away, which, of course, feels great; it was a glorious morning and a fun, relaxing day. In having attended church the night before, we never had to leave the house. None of the boys got out of their PJs, and we didn't even step outside the whole day. We declined a very gracious invitation to go to dinner at a friend's house (where the food and company are both always outta sight), and stayed home. V made a nice baked chicken, green-bean bake (Russ' fave!), sweet potatoes, and homemade mac & cheese. It was soooooooooooooo good. Russ also contributed as he cheered the Eagles on to victory over the lowly Cowboys.

The boys all had fun playing with their new toys, and Mommy and Daddy had fun putting stuff together and installing batteries. Just a thought: Anyone know why Santa insists on making radio controllers that require 9-volt batteries. Does anyone keep those around the house anymore? Really?Anyway, I don't think it could have been a better day: Simple and surrounded by my wife, boys, and happiness. I even got some cool presents, so I got that going for me.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ice Skating in San Jose

We had fun ice skating in downtown San Jose. Perhaps most importantly, FINALLY, Mommy was able to cross "Ice-Skating" off of her List-of-Things-To-Do-Before-She-Dies, and we're thankful that the ice skating didn't leave us with a list full of unfulfilled intentions! Next up: Hot Air Ballooning.

Anthony did pretty well, considering it was his first time. I am impressed with his increasing desire to try things that are a bit more daring. It's fun to watch his confidence grow around the more physical stuff. Chas, well, didn't really like the feeling of being out of control, which is a euphemism for sore butt. He fell a bunch, and probably bruised his pride more than his tail bone, but nonetheless, he'd had it early and hung with Starks a Daddy. Speaking of Starks and Daddy... we had fun playing near the art museum, while Mommy and Anthony putt-putted around the rink. Starks was able to chase a couple of pigeons and maneuver up and down the art museum's steps. He shrieked with joy a few times, so I think he had fun.

All in all, we had a really good time!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Muir Woods

What a beautiful place! The trees are "Gihugic" as Russ would say. Starks just kept saying, "Wooooowwwww." The air was brisk and clean, and of course, the company was excellent. The boys were behaving just enough. The trees made you feel sheltered and so small. What a nice trip. Plus, I learned that you should leave maple leaves on the ground as they provide vitamin C for deer!

Happy Hollow, Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas!

Well, it was a nice Thanksgiving Weekend. I know we're very close to Christmas now, but I didn't even write about Thanksgiving! It started with dinner at the Neading house with close friends - the Faulkner's and Ku's. The food was yummy, and the company, of course, was outstanding! All of our boys - and there were 13 of them - play so well together, which makes for a relaxing time for the adults. We stayed as long as we could given Anthony was coming down with something and fell asleep on their couch - even with friends running all around him. Poor guy.

The next morning we headed up to Muir Woods just north of San Fran. to see the gorgeous, towering Redwood trees. (See pictures above). The boys liked being "inside" the trees, being with their friends - Jacob, Luke, and Adam; they also loved the hot chocolate! We all drove back to our house for Pizza Night, put the kids to bed, and stayed up talking. It was nice to
spend some uninterrupted time with friends!

Saturday we headed to Happy Hollow- again meeting the Neading family- to feed goats, talk to the Macaws, and ride some rides. The boys were definitely coming down with a cold, but it didn't slow them down! ;) As you can see, they had fun.

Starks and Adam are BEST friends. They talk to one another, play ball with one another, hug each other when they meet, and just enjoy being together. Too cute.

Mommy got to go to church alone while the sick men stayed home to rest. It was not only relaxing, and I was fascinated by how much I was able to get from mass when I can actually pay close attention!

Anyway, then it was back to the grind... Anthony was still out of sorts Monday, so he stayed home another day. He drove me nuts - weak enough to require rest but strong enough to get into trouble, aggravate us, and be bored!

Come Tuesday, there was no way I was going to lose that battle again. The next day, when I explained to the teacher why he was absent, she implied he should remain home! Are you kidding me??? A cold? When I returned to pick him up after school, I handed her some tissues and Purell as a peace offering for what Anthony brought into the classroom! :)

Anthony's teacher actually let me go into the classroom to teach about Thanksgiving, which is definitely an anomoly, as she doesn't really allow anyone to volunteer in the class! I had so much fun, and the kids had a ball with my talk, the gourds, and crafts we did.

Mrs. Hoge is the BEST first grade teacher. She lives to teach these kids and truly does it because it's a passion. She always considers them and thinks about them. As for Anthony, I could not be more pleased with where he is. After Kindergarten f
or three weeks, testing into first grade and staying there three weeks, and then transferring finally to this school, Anthony has had no adjustment problems at all - not even a speed bump. He just rolls with it. (You like dat? Do you think I should pimp my ride or get a grill?) Roll with it... yeah... ;) Mrs. Hoge tells me he's reading at a 3rd grade level and she will start him in advanced math. She frequently mentions that he's a bright-eyed joy to have in class, and that's Anthony in a nutshell. His brain is ALWAYS firing at mach speed. "Mommy, 321 minus 120 is 201," he says out-of-the-blue while he puts on shoes. And, he LOVES Starks. Chas... well, Anthony loves him, too, but more so if Chas is doing what Anthony asks... or not trying to do the opposite. Anthony loves Chinese School and rocks it.

Chas, too, loves Chinese School, but it's a lot to ask 4yr-old Chas to sit in class for 2 hours. All in all, he does pretty well. Writing the Chinese characters is really helping him write his ABC's! Chas is a challenging kid, my little experimenter: "How many times do I have to do this to Starks before he screams? Hmm... 4 times. Let's try again and see if it's the same. No! Only 3 times this round. Huh? What if I take longer breaks in between? Will he tolerate it or scream?" That's Chas. As the experiments escalate from test tube to nuclear, this means he's tired and therefore has lost his self discipline. It's time for some "quiet time" during which he'll fall asleep! :)

He still needs a lot of love. He's TOTALLY social and wants to know our agenda every morning either while I'm in my
room or at breakfast. He wants to be with his friends, and I'd say 90% of the time we are. It's nice to finally figure out what he loves. Now, if he misbehaves, I make him go up to his room and shut the door. After, "Chas, you won't get computer time tomorrow if you do that one more time. Alright... well, no computer time. If you do it again, now you won't have TV time either." To which Chas would reply, "I don't care, Mommy. You can take away everything." Finally, it was clear that no toy or activity was as important as being forced to be alone! He really is sweet, too. He's just a 4 yr old who honestly thinks he's 6, same as his brother. That causes some frustration. He wants to read as well as Anthony, and frankly, he's getting there. He doesn't like to feel outdone with anything... eating, bathing, playing, etc. I like that strong will and drive, but I feel like I need to keep an eye out for his rushing through 4. So far so good.

Starks is crazy. He's an extreme sportsman in the making, though just a
peanut- probably 23-24 pounds at 18 months. He climbs absolutely anything and maneuvers around a playground like it's nothing. He cannot be bothered with toddler playgrounds. He trusts me so much that he'll jump or swan-dive off of anything if I'm there to catch him. He falls, gets bonked or pushed down and just moves on without a noise. He is a lover, too, and he's becoming the comic relief. He can turn his brothers' sour moods into laughter with one of his made up words! :) They love him, and he lights up when he sees them. He has recently been "helping" put things in the trash. It's always fun to get the bag from the trash can and hear a familiar toy's song play. Who knows what else he's thrown away that I haven't caught. "Hey, V, have you seen my good watch?!"

And so, we're heading into Christmas. All of the shopping is done. Now, we just wait for school to end - days without a schedule, and for Santa to come! We have A LOT of blessings, and we are attempting to teach the gravity of that to the boys. I think they get it more clearly when they see those without. I like that. Last week, they saw a young homeless man and insisted we go home and get him some food. They packed it up with everything they love, crackers, chocolate milk, Lara bars, and took it down to the man. He was very appreciative and they were so glad to help someone who needed it. 100% their idea and 100% their execution. (Mommy drove)

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and we pray for safe travels! If we haven't heard from you in a while, drop us a line!

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