Phew, this was a whirlwind of a season…..  we have been enjoying every moment and are now getting back into the rhythm of our “routine”. 

The season starts on Thanksgiving.  We have spent the last few Thanksgiving dinners at our good friends house in their arbor out in their vineyard doesn’t get better than that 😉  It includes, good friends, lots of kids running around, good conversation, good food and beautiful fall weather and sun.

After a day of good food we went for our post Thanksgiving hike.  We headed out on a new trail that lead us to an ancient Redwood that looked like there should be dinosaurs walking around it – it was magnificent!  Then we headed up to this reservoir for some good old fashion echo calls – the kids got a big kick out of that – not sure all the animals around the area were thrilled but hopefully it scared off the mountain lions!

The next day was spent trudging around Moon Mountain for the perfect tree!  We always like to get the tree and the holidays kicked off early, it really gets everyone in the mood.  It was a great day spent looking for our tree.  Of course, Mama likes to walk around the mountain looking carefully at every tree while the kiddos run through the trees squealing with delight and Milo and Doug saunter along waiting for the call of “WE FOUND IT”!  For some reason it always ends up being one of the first trees we were eyeing.  I enjoy cruising around enjoying the sights and the smells, I don’t really think I’m looking for the “perfect” tree, I think they are all great, I just enjoy the time spent out there with the family – so I will keep taking “forever” to find our “perfect” tree 😉

Next comes the decorating….

Then began the baking.  Oh the baking, cookies, breads, more breads, more cookies, fudge.  I have found two lovely recipes at rhythm of the Home that I have added to my holiday arsenal – so delicious – orange, cranberry walnut bread and cranberry ginger bread and so easy.  The kids had so much fun making all the goodies to be passed out for our friends.  Baking and singing was the theme throughout our house during December – good times 🙂

The first weekend in December marked the first Christmas recital for Ryder and what was supposed to be Saige’s second recital, but…… a little bug took Saige down for the day/night (luckily she was back in the game the next day – of course) but Ryder made his debut in a hip hop routine and rocked the house 😉  He was a bit nervous but as soon as he got up on stage with his buddies he was a natural and then he came running off the stage after the performance just flying on adrenal and saying “that was too short, I want to go back and do it again!”  It was priceless.  Very proud of my little elf, but sad my little mouse missed her performance – oh well there’s always next year.

The next adventure was the Santa Skunk Train in Mendocino.  We usually go on The Polar Express but that was sold out way too quick – which I am now glad for – because the Skunk Train rocked!

That’s one groovy looking Santa Train 😉  We made a weekend out of it with another family and had such a great time.  We stayed on a bluff with access to the beach – which we enjoyed making our version of snow angels!

Then we made it to Glass Beach – I have been dying to go there.  There is polished glass all over the beach.  We had lots of fun collecting and trying to find unusual colors (only found blue and red in really tiny pieces).  We all wondered what caused all of this glass to wash up on this little cove – much to our dismay, this area was an old dump – yes, we were frolicking on an old dump!  UGH!  It was still gorgeous, maybe the years of crashing waves has washed this area clean (and unfortunately dragged it all out for the rest of the world to enjoy!)  Seriously who would build a dump on the oceans edge!

polished glass

great tide pools to play in, lots of urchins, a few crabs, some fish hiding and lots of anemones – which all equals lots of fun and exploring 🙂

The annual lighting of the snowmen happened Friday after Thanksgiving – which turned out to be a volatile stormy day and night.  We were all ready to go but right as we were getting ready to put on our coats the sky unleashed its fury and we decided to sit this year out.  So instead we visited the snowmen on a different occasion. 

The deal with these snowmen is…. every year Cornerstone sets up these vintage snowmen (lots of them) and then lights them to start the holiday season.  They have marshmallow roasting, frosty and rudolph played on a wall of one of the buildings with hay bales set up for seating, hot chocolate, etc.  Everyone who has kids in Sonoma comes.  It’s a great time – too bad for the weather.  I just love these snowmen – I would love one for our yard.

This little guy showed up at our house the first week in December.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Elf on The Shelf?  Well I heard about this a few years back, we had elves that looked just like him when I was growing up (they weren’t elf on the shelf) but my mom always had them hanging out on the banister heading upstairs and I simply LOVED them!  It was my favorite thing to get them out and line them up.  I would pretend they were alive and I would talk to them.  Well fast forward to somewhere around 2008 and here is a modern day version of what I used to pretend.  So the story goes, the elf arrives, he is named by the kids, they can not touch him/her, they can tell him/her all their wishes, he/she reports to Santa every night whether the kids were good or bad and then he/she flies back to the kids home and is in a different spot every morning.  So the fun part is when they wake up the first thing they do is look for the elf.  Ours is named Nutcracker Boy 😉  Let’s just say Mama had a couple close calls, a few mornings I heard Ryder’s voice and I bolted out of bed, ran to Nutcracker boy and replaced him (once he got thrown across the room into the christmas tree!)  Ugh!  That got me a few times throughout the month.  Ryder swears he saw his head move 🙂  On Christmas eve the elf flies back home to live in the North Pole until next season.  He usually arrives sometime around Thanksgiving. 

We had so much fun with this tradition this year.  We even wrote our letters to Santa and gave them to Nutcracker boy to bring with him one evening 🙂

In between all this craziness I still remembered to enjoy the beauty of the season

And I think it was a little too much excitement for these two 🙂


New Years came in quietly – thank goodness 🙂

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season.  Would love to hear how you spent your season.

Peace and Blessings to you in 2011 – hope to see you all back here

Finally completing our Thanksgiving sign!  I started it last year and didn’t finish it in time for Thanksgiving 2009, so I put it away and pulled it out 2 weeks before Thanksgiving 2010 and finished it!  Yes, unfortunately, that is how I roll.  I wish I would have just completed it last year, but nothing like a little fire lit under you to get you working, right?!  Much to my parents chagrin, this is also how I rolled  in college (sometimes it worked, sometimes not so much).

Something else I finally completed was Ryder’s name banner.  I have been meaning to get this done and after seeing how happy he was when I did finally hang it, I wish I would have done this a long time ago.  But I guess that’s what happens when life “happens”.  Balance, that’s what I keep trying to remind myself of. 

Of course I am grateful for so much more, my beautiful family, great friends, beautiful whole food from our yard, the sun, the sky, the earth, a good glass of wine, a nice dark beer, our four legged friends and our inner peace (that I sometimes lose but usually can find it if I look a little).

Saige and her new big girl bike (big 3 year old!)

soccer practice and soccer games – Doug is coaching this year too 🙂

painting the bean bag toss game for the birthday party

Snuck away from the party planning to go to Power to the Peaceful to see our boyfriend Michael Franti 😉  Yes, Saige and I are quite infatuated (as well as Doug and Ryder ).  What’s not to like about the man!  Saige was bummed we were so far back we couldn’t see him – too cute!

Figs are coming in

and so are the tomatoes!  Yippee!  I am thrilled.  Not sure if you remember my previous post about my tomatoes not being so big or great, well we got a nice little heat wave and BAM  they all turned red and were decent sized and I’ve been hauling in 8lb + baskets of tomatoes weekly – I’m loving it!

So with that said I’ve been doing a lot of sauce making and storing.

something else we’ve been making a lot of …. hula hoops – 30 to be exact.  These were the “reward” for solving the mystery at the kids party (Scooby Mystery party).

our big 6 year old (yes that’s right 6!) got his first skateboard for his birthday.  He got to go to the local skateshop and had his board built and got to tour the shop and learned the “skater” hand shake – the red carpet treatment.  He was so stoked!

Shaggy and Daphne before the party.  Mama had a late night – I had some costume adjustments to make.  It was going to be 95+ degrees that day and I had to make a new dress for Saige (or I should say Daphne) one that was sleeveless.  Doug was Fred (unfortunately we did not get a picture of him) and I was Velma (yes, the smart one 😉  ).

picked some berries in the morning for a raspberry/strawberry curd for the filing of the cake.  I tried my hand at a red velvet cake and was thrilled with the outcome. I usually try out new cakes on my friends and they don’t usually turn out good (I am not the best baker) but this one turned out good 🙂

In the haste of frosting the cake (15 minutes) before the party I forgot to cross the “T” in birthday.  And no that isn’t a spelling mistake – it is supposed to say Rappy Rithday (in the words of Scooby).

The hoops were a success and Velma really liked them too 😉  yes that is me under the wig and glasses – it was way too hot to rock the turtleneck!

So after this all this, I woke up and it suddenly was October!  Ugh!

And during this time Ryder started kindergarten, I (and a few others) are trying to get the schools garden built, I started doing a daycare co-op with a friend and her two kids and Saige is back in tap and Ryder is taking hip hop – phew! 

September always seems to sneak up and fly by.  The good thing is the “gang” has their costumes ready for Halloween – no costume sewing for Mama.  Now back to my quilt (and the other 50 projects I have half finished).

I can catch my breath now

Three years ago, today, she entered our lives (quickly and forcefully) and she continues to live this way.  She has changed our lives in ways we never imagined.  She keeps us on our toes, she keeps us laughing, she has created more gray hairs than I care to admit (but I will take ever one of them and more!), she has filled our hearts with so much joy and love. 

We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, when she arrived she had no name (and didn’t for about 2 weeks).  We let her choose her name and what an ever fitting name – Saige (wise one ).  She is teaching us so many things about living in the moment, not taking life too seriously and living loud and large.

Thank you my sweet sprite Saige – we love you more than words.  Happy happy day to you

My hoop finally arrived last Friday!  I have been wanting to get a hoop for so long and, for some odd reason, felt like it wasn’t necessary or I’d probably never do it or whatever other ridiculous reason I was telling myself.  Then I was reading my good friend Kendra’s blog and was totally motivated (plus I knew I would have someone to hoop with too).  So I ordered one up.  After I ordered it I couldn’t wait to tell Kendra and then she told me she found directions on the internet to make them (of course there’s instructions on the internet).  Well I had to see – even though I had my hoop coming – you need to have more than one for the kids, friends, potentially double hooping, etc.  So I started googling how to make a hula hoop – holy smokes – there are TONS of places to find info – lots of great “how to” videos on youtube.  Since I work for a local home improvement center I have all the supplies at my finger tips.  I was able to make 3 hoops for $5! 

This is how we’ve been making the hoops

3/4″ irrigation tubing at 160psi (I like the weight of this) you can use 1″ too but I feel it’s a bit to heavy for us.

3/4″ connector for the tubing

tape – the sites I viewed suggested “gaffer tape” but we don’t sell it so I just used good old colored vinyl tape found in our electrical dept.  The gaffer tape is a cotton tape that gripes your clothing a bit so there is some friction to help with the hooping – but we haven’t found any problems hooping with the vinyl tape.

Some of the sites say to heat up the ends of the tubing with a blow dryer but I found a video on youtube that suggested heating up a pot of water and submerging the end of the tube into the boiling water to make it more pliable and that totally worked – much better than the blow dryer – the connector slipped right on.

And that’s all – you can wrap the hoops however you want.  It’s been so much fun.  I’ve been hooping everyday since my hoops arrival.  I’ve got the bruises to show.  But in the week I’ve been doing it I’ve figured out a couple tricks/moves so I’m stoked.  And now I’ve got Ryder totally addicted.  He asks to watch the videos on the computer and then he wants to go out and practice 🙂  Yesterday, while Saige napped, Ryder and I hooped for an hour to Michael Franti (who is my LOVE)- what a way to spend the afternoon 🙂  He has even mastered two hoops at once! 

After dinner last night we headed to the backyard for our nightly “after dinner play” and Saige was flying on her swing, I was hooping, Ryder hooped a little (so he could show Doug his double hooping) and then he grabbed his rope swing and was spinning like a trapeze artist.  Doug looked around and laughed (he’s got his own private circus!)  It’s so fun.

Here are a couple awesome hooping videos – just so inspiring and they make it look so effortless and graceful.  Someday 😉

Saige is now 2 1/2 and growing quickly.  We have been looking, for sometime now, a big girl bed for her.  Her crib converted into a daybed and it has worked well, but for the last couple months we’ve noticed she’s usually got an arm or leg hanging off the bed – good sign it’s getting a little too small.  I had in mind a particular style/look and purpose for her bed.  She, unfortunately has the smallest room in our house so we have to make every square inch work for us and every piece of furniture needs to be functional (extremely functional).  So we wanted a captains bed/chest bed with a few drawers, a cabinet, possibly a door to get access to the back side of the bed, white shabby chic style with beadboard.  Not too much to ask right?  Well we looked and looked – mainly on the internet and craigslist.  We found a couple but just hated the thought of paying all that money for a junky piece of furniture (new).  I never gave up hope with craigslist but just no luck.

Well, we had been searching craigslist for some thermarest pads for camping (which we scored big time and found some!) – makes it more comfortable when sleeping on shale.  While looking for the thermarest I thought, let’s try again for the bed – and much to my delight there was a listing (no picture of exact bed but one of similar) so we called and Doug talked to the woman and it sounded great – plus a mattress to boot.  Doug headed out that evening to San Fran to pick it up (about 45 minutes away) and was back about 2 hours later with, literally, exactly what we wanted (and all for $100) and two little baby doll strollers thrown in 🙂

Of course in our tiny little house it takes a lot of rearranging to fit things in (plus we were leaving to go camping in the morning) so we had furniture on the front porch, in the kitchen, the garage – all to get this bed into it’s spot.  But once there – it’s perfect!  I’m so over buying new (have been for some time now) but after buying this bed I felt so good that we didn’t buy something new, that we kept something out of a landfill and gave it a whole new life and then I read Farmama’s post (it couldn’t have been more appropriate and perfect timing) and remembered this video I had seen a while ago (it’s an awesome video – you must watch) and it made me even happier to know that we didn’t buy new. 

And Saige LOVES her new bed!  She tells EVERYONE about it!  It’s precious and a bit sad all at the same time, our little girl is growing up. 

This is what Saige calls herself – Grammy gave her this name after seeing her at her tap class.  And it is a truly fitting name.  Not only does she love to tap – she LOVES to dance – anytime, anywhere.  I will say I love this quality (because I LOVE to dance).  We were recently at a festival in the town square (we are lucky enough to have a lot of these fun community gathering festivals with food, music, drink and art).  So as soon as Saige saw there was a band set up to play she was front and center and as soon as that first note was played she was dragging me to the grassy area in front of the band to boogie – she’s the best!

So our little dancing queen had her very first dance recital the Saturday before Father’s Day.  What a flashback for me (I took tap and ballet while I was growing up).  Her and her BFF are in Tiny Tapers and were probably one of the youngest in all the groups.  The girls sat patiently in the “holding room” until it was finally their turns to take the stage.  And boy did they take the stage – they ROCKED it!  As much as you can rock twinkle twinkle and If you’re happy and you know it 🙂  But boy did they perform up there.  It had to be one of the cutest things I’ve seen in a long time.  They weren’t scared and they had fun – that’s the main thing.  And when Saige got off the stage and I met her back stage she said ” I loved being on stage mama!”  She’s my little dancing queen.

being silly in the "holding room" waiting to take the stage

getting ready for her twirl

This is a little blurry – since I was pretty far away and had to crop out the rest of the kids (as I don’t have their permission to post their images) – but you can see she’s doing her “happy and you know it” bit.

We are on hiatus until the fall session starts – we can’t wait.  It’s so great for Saige to finally have her own activity.  She’s always tagging along for Ryder’s activities and now she has found her niche.

Dancing Queen, young and sweet……

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