Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Here are some pictures of Christmas night at my mom and dad's house. Mom and Dad posed with all of their grandkids. (Megan (11) and Ian (7), and the gals.) My family finally sat together for a picture, but getting all of us looking photogenic was nearly impossible. I'm posting one of the only decent ones!

Christmas Eve: 85 Degrees but Still Spirited

Christmas was a warm 85 degrees in Southern California!!! The view is of our neighborhood and surrounding hills from our front porch. Although a part of me misses Bishop at Christmastime (when snow would fall), a bigger part of me is just grateful to have my family so close, as well as my two healthy, beautiful girls. We got all dressed up for church on Christmas Eve. It was a lovely, candlelight service, and although Grace held her candle up high like the statue of liberty, we didn't light anything on fire.

My Christmas table went unused this year because we ate chicken tortilla cassarole (a Zakar tradition) at my mom's. We played games and cracked up until the girls were chanting "San-ta, San-ta" and we had to go home. (A quick walk four houses down, and we were there!)

The Pets

These are the pets. Truthfully, they are like people to us. Ace (the fawn pug) is almost nine years old, Sophie (the black pug) is one and a half, and Priss is two.

I counted the other day, and growing up I had up to nine animals at one time. I remember going away to college petless and feeling so empty. I'm just an animal person, I guess. As expensive and annoying as the pets can get, I love them like they are my kids.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Christmas Dinner

Here is a picture of a group of our friends from Murrieta Valley High School. Most of us in the picture are teachers or counselors at the high school. The weekend before school got out for Christmas break, we left the kids at my house with Christmas crafts and three (!) sitters. We started at Erika's house for appetizers (Erika and her husband Mark are seated in the white and blue. Mark just returned from Iraq!)Next, we went to dinner at a new winery in town. (It's pretty handy livin' in wine country!) After dinner, we went to John and Mary's house for dessert. (They are standing on the far right in the red and black.) John was the choir director at the high school until this past year, when he accepted a job at Riverside Community College. This came in handy too, since during dessert he played piano, breaking out all of the hits of the '80's and Christmas songs for Erika and I to belt out. Finally, we came back to my house. The kids and the sitters were happy, and there had been no disasters...the only ones who had passed out were Emma and Grace. :) It was just a wonderful evening. I'm thankful for my friends. Jeff and I have been very lucky in Murrieta. There are just a lot of really nice people here!

Christmas Cookies and Outfit Changes

There's nothing like a good girlfriend and a ton of sugary sweets. Yesterday was cookie day at our house. Emma and Grace's pal Kylie came over with her mom Diane and new brother Sawyer. The kitchen was an explosion of flour, sugar, food coloring, and frosting. The cookies...well, let's just say that Martha Stewart's cookies look perfect because she doesn't let four year olds REALLY help.

Emma and Grace have known their pal Kylie since....well, since before they were born. I met Kylie's mom Diane when we were both pregnant. I remember knowing when I met Diane that we'd be friends. It was a "kindred spirit" thing, I guess! We had our first peaceful lunch together at Ruby's in Carlsbad. We sat in the booth with our adorable pregnant bellies and chatted and chatted. The NEXT time we went to lunch was quite different. We attempted to take the girls (who were about 3 or 4 months old) to the mall. We couldn't walk three steps without someone asking us if they were triplets. On top of that, we ended up with the three of them sceaming in a Chinese restaurant. We exited as quickly as possible, dumping out the food. Memories of our peaceful chat at Rubies were becoming faint.

Now, each time we see Diane and Kylie, it gets easier and easier. The girls have a close friend for life! Yesterday, Diane and I heard what we thought was arguing from the back yard. Were the girls having their first fight? No...they were playing Cinderella and the evil stepsisters, and the rough tones we heard were Kylie and Grace bossing Emma, the sad Cinderella. Hilarious.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Miss Emma Claire

I chose to post this picture of Emma because she is at the Wild Animal Park, a place she'd live if it were up to her. She adores (almost) all living things, especially horses and dogs. The only thing she hates are scary sea creatures, but that's because over the summer we spent a lot of time at the beach, and we had two nasty run-ins. One was in Encinitas, where an eel washed ashore. It was the ugliest thing I have ever seen. (Remember the bad eels from Little Mermaid? Now I know why they were the villians.) This eel had razor teeth and mean little eyes. Emma was appalled. Later over the summer, it was attack of the jellyfish. When one washed ashore right in front of us, we looked in wonder at its pulsating tentacles...and Emma didn't forget. She's pretty sure that any body of water could be dangerous, especially the toilet! She likes me to wait in the hall when she uses the restroom just in case a jellyfish tries to bite her in the bum! Poor girl! Other than some nasty sea creatures, Emma believes the world is full of animals meant for her to adore. Her career ambitions include vet, horse trainer, and dog walker. She rides with my mom (Grandma Toni), and amazingly she rides Boquet, the horse I rode growing up (also the horse I fell from, fed carrots to, rode bareback, bathed, etc.) Boquet is 35 1/2 years old and still loves kids.

I'm so glad my daughters love animals. I grew up with four dogs, two cats, three horses, and various birds, not to mention a chicken I "won" at the rodeo (though that was short lived!) I'm grateful to have passed this adoration on to the girls, especially to Emma. Look her up in about 25 years at Emma's Animal Sanctuary. :)

To the Beat of a Different Drummer...

My Grace is a wild child. If it were the '60's, Grace would be dancin' at Woodstock with daisies in her hair. If it were the '70's, she's be a roller disco queen. In the '80's , Grace would be Molly Ringwald's best friend. In 2005, Grace marches along to her own music.

Grace loves writing her name. I find pieces of paper all over the house: "Grace Grace Grace Grace Grace Grace." Sometimes she rushes her name, and then puts, "Garce." I tell her "That says Garce, not Grace," and she laughs and laughs. When she laughs, an enormous dimple pops up on her left cheek. I notice these wonderful details because I'm her mom and that's my job!

Graces hates it when I miss church. We've missed church for about a month, and she's been really mad at me. The girl has a one-on-one line to Jesus. She talks to Him a lot. It's a part of her creative style. I don't doubt that she'll savor a strong spirituality her entire life. That's how she is. She reminds me of how I need to stop and be thankful. "Momma, did Jesus make the Chritmas lights?" or "Momma, Jesus didn't make the smokers. Smokers are gross."

The other day I pulled out a photo album and was looking at pictures from my childhood. Five or six of them looked exactly like Grace. The funny thing about having children is that there are bits and pieces of you in them, but they still come out as separate, unique, important little people. The joy is figuring out who they are.

My Christmas Angels

These are my Christmas angels. Five years ago, I was as big as a house (or at least I felt like it!) and waiting for their arrival. Now, these vivacious little ladies are the center of my world. Each day they entertain me with their silly thoughts. An example...Today, they got all dressed up in their princess costumes and came into my closet (where I was getting dressed.)

"We have a Christmas show for you, Mama," they said. They began to sing "Felice Navidad," but instead of saying it correctly, they sang, "Maleese Mateeda! Maleese Mateeda." They twirled and spun and sang....I just wanted to stretch that precious moment out. I know that someday, when they're teenagers, I'll remember their little voices singing the wrong words of a Spanish Christmas song..."Maleese Mateeda!"

Just Starting This

This is a test. I don't know what the heck I'm doing, but I would like to post my mind's ramblings on this blog. So far it's pretty confusing. Hopefully I'll get better at it!