Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

December 31, 2012

December 2012 – Family Updates

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 6:38 pm

December Highlights:

Christmas Activities

Chopping Down the Christmas Tree

We began the month with our annual visit to Hagle tree farm — the place where we select and chop down our Christmas tree. It had rained on and off during the weekend we decided to get our tree, which tempted us to postpone our trip for the following week. Instead we waited for a break in the weather and headed out with the kids to get our tree. The pickings were slim this year, but we managed to find a robust conifer we could all agree on. It looked a little bit bigger than the ones we had sawed down in the past but not over the top big so I sawed it down. That was the easy part. The surprise came when we went to pick it up to place it on the wheelbarrow. It was by far the heaviest tree we had ever felled. Cathy and I struggled to get it into the wheelbarrow. Somehow we managed, but we learned a valuable lesson — don’t chop down a big tree shortly after a rain as the tree absorbs a lot of that rainwater which makes it much heavier. And when a tree is dramatically heavier it makes everything else — getting it on and off the car, bringing it into the house, putting it into the tree stand — that much more difficult.

Annual Christmas Parade

Luke and I represented the Adventure Guides at our local Christmas parade for the third year in a row. We had a pretty good turnout and for the most part our 2 mile walk was pretty uneventful. The only thing we had to look out for were occasional horse manure bombs from the horses in front of us. Luckily there were no mishaps as we slowly made our way down the parade route and waved, smiled and wished the spectators a merry Christmas. We had pretty good weather for the event and we had some pretty nice floats and inflatables, including this coupling of a gigantic gingerbread man and reindeer.

Christmas Eve

As is our tradition, we spent Christmas Eve with my sister. She got pretty sick this year a few days before the party so she did not have the energy to make her famous “pastel de choclo.” No worries though, we still managed to gorge ourselves on mini empanadas, a roast, chinese food, and a plethora of desserts. The kids also built their gingerbread houses, although Sebastian opted out of building his this year, or rather he volunteered his aunt Cathy to build his for him.

Christmas Gifts

Santa was generous the kids once again this year. The gifts this year included:

  • a ping pong net and paddle set you can use to turn your dining room table into a ping pong table
  • the Mexican Train Domino game
  • Super Smashbrothers for the Wii
  • a cool archery set that lets you shoot rubber arrows up to 150 feet
  • Harry Potter DVD collection
  • Minecraft rubber sword and ax
  • Shaytards cap
  • Chihuahua and Hello Kitty Pajamas

A Visit from Grandma Carol

Grandma Carol came to visit us for a few days during the Christmas holidays. She was here as part of her annual escape from the Alaskan winter. However, instead of spending most of the winter and spring in the “lower 48” she plans on going to Australia for two months to visit friends and explore a new continent. It’s pretty cool to see someone in their 60s still so curious about the world and willing to just pack up and go. I will definitely be looking forward to reading all her e-mail updates as she makes here way down under.

While she was here we just enjoyed hanging out and having a low-key visit. We all had a lot of fun playing The Mexican Train Dominoe Game, a game I won at a White Elephant gift exchange. Well, I was having a lot of fun playing it, but after winning four times in a row the kids said that I had to not play anymore and let somebody else win. I half-heartedly protested and reminded the kids that grandma Carol had one the first game. I relented though and the next person to win turned out to be Cathy (here’s a picture I snapped of her achieving victory). It was definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours on a drizzly afternoon and I highly recommend the game to anyone.

When the weather got a little better we took Carol walking with Spikey to the park. We also brought our skateboards so that Carol could see Luke and Lilah rolling down their favorite incline and making silly faces as they sped by us and our cameras. On one of her nights with us, we also took Carol to a neighborhood a few miles away that really goes all out when it comes to Christmas decorations. Most of the houses in the block we visited are decked out with a theme from a particular children’s movie or TV show so as you walk by these houses you see dozens of well lit, life-sized characters looking back at you.

At the conclusion of her visit, we dropped Carol off at the train station, just a few days before she leaves on a Quantas flight to Sydney where she plans to celebrate the New Year. Have a great trip Carol!

We go Skiing and Snowboarding for the First Time

For years I’ve made excuses for not going to the snow to participate in sports like snowboarding and skiing — it’s too far, too expensive, too much of a hassle, I don’t know how to put on tire chains, I’m too old to learn a new sport, etc. — but this year I got inspired and decided to give it a try. One of the reasons I also wanted to go was because Lilah joined the ski club at her school, which means that starting in January Lilah and her fellow teammates will be leaving school at 2:00 PM every friday to go skiing and snowboarding. For 6 consecutive weeks, two chartered buses will take the kids to the snow where they will have their fun in the snow from 5 – 9:30 before heading back home and arriving back at the school around midnight.

Well, on December 27, I took the kids to Mountain High. Things started off nice enough. We got up early, hit the road by 5:15 AM and were at Mt. High by 7:45 or so. We pulled into the east mountain high resort and there were hardly any people so we purchased our lessons and paid for our rental equipment there. The guy behind the counter said the children’s ski academy I signed them up for was on the west side so we could just go there to pick up our equipment instead of picking it up on the east side and taking it with us. Big mistake, when we got to the west there was a brutal line that was more like an amorphous mass of people huddled into a tiny room where you had to slither through people and constantly deal with the stress of wondering whether you were going to get served or not. We all felt the ill effects of the 2.5+ hour wait as I got light headed and the kids just managed to hang in there by finding a small spot on the ground to sit on. The good news is that we eventually got our stuff and the kids seemed to have a good time afterwards. I can’t really say the same thing for myself though. Despite the group lessons, I absolutely sucked at snowboarding. It was not like surfing or skating at all. I fell too many times to count. Meanwhile, Lilah, who opted for skis, said she only fell once and went on three runs. Keep in mind, I only went on one run and after one particularly hard fall I said “F this, I have nothing to prove.” So I just took off my snowboard and waited for the kids to finish. Luke was totally wiped out as he snowboarded too but did much better than I did. So I don’t know, if I ever do any mountain resort sports again, it will probably by skiing. Then again, I might just be perfectly content to watch from the sidelines and capture the action with the camera while sipping on a warm drink. But maybe this was one of those instances where things just got off to a bad start and dad could not resiliently bounce back and recover.

Now I know that if I go again, I would do a few things differently. I would not stand in line and wait to rent from the resort, but rent my equipment in advance from one of the local places in Wrightwood or better yet, but just pick the stuff up from Sports Chalet the night before. I also might spend the night in a hotel in order to get up at a more reasonable time and be in a better frame of mind to start the day. Because even though the description of my experience in the mountains may sound a tad negative, I do realize that there were some definite positives — such as spending a beautiful day out in nature with the kids, watching the kids have fun, and the wonderful liberating feeling of taking off those snow boots.

I Miss the New Year’s Eve Party

I was bummed about missing the “New York Time” new year’s eve party, a tradition we started last year. It’s a party where a few of us with kids of similar ages get together and celebrate the New Year three hours early so that we can all get back to our homes at a decent time after the ball drops. Unfortunately, my body began breaking down shortly after the ski trip and I ended up catching a flu bug that lasted a good 4 days. Cathy accused me of exaggerating my illness which she claimed was merely a common cold. Well, all I know is that this common cold had a lot of fever and chills associated with it and had me with very little energy to do anything but curl up in bed sleeping or listening to the radio. As I wrote on my Facebook post, I ended up staying at home watching an on-demand movie (Ted) while Cathy and the kids went to the party. Not how I thought I would spend new year’s eve, but that’s how it goes sometimes. In the grand scheme of things it’s not so bad, especially when you have people you love and people who love you.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and that the New Year brings you peace, love and adventure!

More next month…

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