Sunday, January 29, 2012

One For the Fans

While gymnastics meets may be a common occurrence around here, having a fan club to cheer Lys on is a rare treat.

It was so much fun to have Erin and her family and Chad and Grandma come to watch Alyssa compete.  We're so thankful for their support.  And she put on a pretty good show, too.

The competition was really stiff but she ended up 8th all-around out of 30 girls in her age group.

Because I know she has other fans that couldn't be there, here is a look at her bar and beam routines:

9.00--9th place

9.15--7th place

She also placed 6th on vault with a 9.15.  Congrats, Lys!  How lucky you are to have such a great fan club.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grandma is Great!

When I was in high school, I completed a project called, "I Am What I Am" for a psychology class. It was a detailed scrapbook of sorts that outlined the elements of my personality and defined the roles others had played in making me the person that I am.  It included my talents, interests as well as embarrassing moments and personality weaknesses.  One of the required elements was to list the qualities of an ideal person.  This statement was included in the summary of my list: "I think the most ideal person I know would have to be my grandmother."

Some call her Goose, some say Granny but I think more often than not I use plain ol' Grandma.  She moved to my hometown when I was a very young girl and lived nearby all my growing up years.  (She moved to California about the time I got married.)  Every Sunday was spent at my grandparent's house where she spoiled us with wonderful dinners that had been planned to the very last detail.  Her cupboards were always stocked with homemade cookies.  She sewed my sister and I that famous red Annie dress that every little girl our age wanted.  She also made me gymnastics leotards and homecoming dresses too.  She handmade all the mints for my wedding.  It's no wonder that when my first daughter was born, I wanted to use her name.

Grandma turned 90 earlier this month.  It had been 5 years since I had seen her and I desperately wanted my children to create memories of her.  So when we learned of some unbelievably low airfare, we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see her.  What made it more exciting was when my parents and sister and family decided to come too.

My dad and grandma actually share a birthday and Mom's follows three days later.  We got to California on Mom's actual birthday.  That night, my uncle Mike, who lives in the same town as my grandma, arranged for a birthday dinner for the three of them.

Doesn't Grandma look so good for being ninety years old?!  She is doing quite well I think, though a scary fall just moments after our arrival threatened to ruin our fun before it had even started.  Her tumble left her with a very sore hip and an enormous goose egg on the back of her head but she managed to get back up and keep going.

She delighted in getting acquainted with her great-grandchildren and we tried to soak in every moment of their interactions.

We made a day trip to beautiful Monterey but Grandma opted to stay home and rest as the effects of her fall had taken a bit of a toll.

We could hear the seals barking as soon as we got out of the car.

The whole crew minus Granny:

We wandered into some of the shops on Fisherman's Wharf and Anna desperately wanted this pink bunny hat that Uncle Mike had tried on her.  Erin said no but Uncle Mike was able to dry her tears by taking her to the candy store.

The candy store was fun for all of us!

We then drove down the road to Cannery Row, the setting of several John Steinbeck novels.

The beach was cold but beautiful.

Natalie wanted to show Great-Grandma her souvenirs as soon as we got home.

On our way to the airport the next day, we stopped by my cousin Sean's house.  He's created a "game room" in his backyard.  The kids thought they were in heaven with his popcorn machine, candy dispenser with free quarters and unlimited arcade games.  But it's pretty much a bar and this is the first and only time in their lifetimes I ever expect to see them in a bar!

Grandma posed with all six of her great-grandchildren before we said our tearful good-byes.

Caleb, Christopher--my cousin's boy, Natalie, Clara, Alyssa and Anna with Great Grandma Burke

It was a good trip.  I was thankful for the opportunity to spend time with family and most specifically to see my Grandma.

I hope my kids will always remember her.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I tried to go running yesterday morning, just like I do every day.  But the icy layer covering every single surface made it physically impossible to run.  I could barely walk.  It was beautiful.  Dangerous, but beautiful.

We were some of the lucky ones.  While hundreds of thousands were out of power, we were snuggled safely in our cozy home.  And while many flights were cancelled and the runways closed much of the day, Erin's flight from New York somehow managed to land without delay.

We are definitely counting our blessings, but we did have one casualty.  The tall evergreen tree near our front porch succumbed to the weight of the ice.

The corner of our roof kept it from falling entirely.  No branches have been lost but the roots are coming up out of the ground.  I'll be sad to see it go.

 Our neighborhood looks a bit like a war zone with downed trees lining all the streets.  It's sad to see all the damage.

 The temperatures went up this morning and the ice has been falling off all the branches with loud cracks and crashes.  We're finally starting to thaw out.  But I think we'll be cleaning up from this mess for quite some time.  While many will be out of power for several more days to come, I'm going to be grateful for the simple pleasure of electricity.

This will be one of those storms we'll be talking about for years to come.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Days!

 It all started on Sunday.  Snow was falling, and fast.  In less than an hour, the ground was covered and the kids couldn't wait to go out in it.  We aren't really prepared for this type of weather, however, and Natalie was soon complaining about not having waterproof gloves.  (Neither of the girls had proper footwear either.) Jon found some of his gloves and offered them as her only other option for her 99-cent mittens.  She was thrilled.

She's either showing off her massive hands or simply raising her hands in pure delight.  Not sure which.

 The big girls rolled quite the snowball while Natalie showed Emma her super-size mitts.

The snow stuck around for Monday's holiday and the kids frolicked outside for hours.  Considering the potentially record-breaking forecast, Jon decided to invest in some snow boots and waterproof gloves of the appropriate size.  They've been well used.

Tuesday morning brought more snow which caused a two-hour delay to the start of school.  But now that they were properly outfitted, the kids were excited to walk to school with the flurries falling around them.

 This morning brought MUCH more snow and a school cancellation.  It's been about as fun as Christmas day!  All-day winter fun with friends--and NO school--is about as good as it gets.  I'm amazed at how long they can last out in the elements.

The snow changed to freezing rain which has coated every branch of every bush and tree.  It's unbelievably pretty.

While Jon and I spent the day in our pajamas, the fun parents down the street helped the kids build an awesome snow fort complete with a snow recliner.  That same fun mom also fed my kids lunch and gave the girls hand-warmers for their gloves.  What good neighbors they are!

 Though my pictures don't show him, Caleb has had an equal amount of joy from this unusually snowy winter weather.  He was especially excited about a day off of school.  And he gets one more tomorrow as they've already cancelled again.

Snow days are a special treat when you live in the Pacific Northwest.  And since there's no place to go, let it snow!  Well, until tomorrow when I need it to clear out in time for Erin and family to fly safely into town and for me to make it to the airport and back.