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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

I can't believe we're already at Easter!  Wasn't it just Christmas?  This was the first holiday we spent without Stephen.  It was weird, but we had a good day.  I made crepes for breakfast, which the girls were happy about.  They also wanted to have our annual egg hunt so they got to hunt for plastic eggs filled with scratcher lottery tickets.  They each won a few bucks and had fun searching.  Bill couldn't resist giving tons of clues along the way.  He's such a kid at heart.  I think next year, I'll make sure he doesn't see where any of the eggs are before the hunt and let him search along with the girls.

Then we all got ready to go over to Chuck & Joanne's.  The girls decided to get prettied up this year.  They looked beautiful!

We couldn't have asked for a better Easter Sunday!  The weather was perfect.  The volleyball court was groomed and ready to roll.  The kids had the crazy egg hunt (Nikki found two, really two?!)  They were holding out for the big eggs but didn't find any.

Later on some shuffleboard got going.  We enjoyed just sitting and relaxing and catching up with everyone.  We came home around 7:00 and got to talk to Stephen.  He said he'd had a nice brunch with some friends and had an uneventful day.  It was a perfect end to an awesome day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Short Visit with Stephen

Nikki had a 5 day weekend this past weekend.  St. Lucy's always takes Valentine's Day off.  Sister Helen couldn't take the barrage of deliveries for the girls from both boys and parents.  So she made it a holiday.  Well then the deliveries started coming on the 13th.  So guess what?  Yep they get that day off too!  Gotta love her.  So that gave us Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Plus both girls were off on Monday for President's Day.  We decided to take advantage of it and pull Ali out of school on Friday and head up the coast.  We wanted to tour some colleges along the way and get in a visit with Stephen.

We left Friday morning and arrived at Cal State Channel Islands for our 11am tour.  The school was very nice.  Bill really liked it, and I think both girls did as well.  The one downfall is they don't have any sports programs.  They have club sports though so it's still a consideration.

From there, we headed into Santa Barbara for lunch.  We walked awhile on State Street and had a great pizza lunch.  Then it was time to jump back in the car for a long stretch.  Our next stop was Monterey.  We arrived, checked into our hotel and headed to dinner.  I'd made a reservation since it was Valentine's Day and we weren't sure what kind of crowds would be there.  I picked a place called Lalapalooza.  It had good reviews and it was in the little downtown and not near Fisherman's Wharf so I thought we'd be okay.  It was a great choice.  Not crowded, good meal and we walked from the hotel.

The next morning, we had another 11am tour.  This one at Cal State Monterey Bay.  This is the school that has been great about communicating with Nikki about soccer.  They've seen her play a few times and have told her they like what they see.  Unfortunately she's had several girls tell her not to go there.  They've said it's all concrete and super ugly since it's an old Army base (Fort Ord).  Needless to say, I'm glad I forced her to check it out.  She and Ali both loved it.  It's near the beach, has bigger dorm rooms and is really spread out over a large area.  Plus it helped that we had an awesome tour guide.  

This was the new library.  Many of the buildings had been converted from the Army base.  But the new buildings have been built using 80% recycled materials from the base.  It was really neat to hear the history of some of the buildings.

After our tour, we stopped and had lunch near the water.  There were a bunch of seals out on the dock so we watched them awhile too.  From there, we headed to UC Santa Cruz.  Nikki really wanted to check out their campus, but I wasn't able to set up a tour.  They only do weekday tours and were closed on Monday due to the holiday.  So we had planned to just do a walking tour.  But by the time we arrived and saw what hill the campus was on, we decided a driving tour would be just fine.  It's a pretty campus, but is much harder to get into.  So Nikki is going to keep it on her list of "maybes".  

From there we headed to Santa Clara.  We knew we wouldn't see Stephen until morning, so we just had a nice dinner and shopped around at Santana Row.  We stayed at the hotel right on Santana Row this time.  I'd seen it before and had thought it'd be a fun place to stay.  It was perfect.

The next morning, we picked Stephen up and headed into San Francisco.  He had kept the day open for us.  So we went into town and ate at Gotts Roadside.  Yes we'd planned our entire day around that meal.  It consisted of hamburgers, fries and shakes for $110!  Although I got the ahi burger, and it was delicious.  Then we walked down to Pier 39 and did lots of people watching.  Of course we had to stop by and see all of the seals there too.

The visit seemed way too fast, but I did get to ask him all of the questions I'd been wanting to ask.  I am just so proud of how hard he's working and the direction he wants to go.  He is loving everything they're doing in ROTC and is working really hard to earn a scholarship.  He showed me the two badges he's earned already.  One was for scoring 290 on the PT test and the other was for German Armed Forces Military Proficiency.  Now he just needs the uniform to be able to put them on!  It sounds like school is going okay and polo is too.  Although he thinks his time is limited for playing polo.  He sees  how busy school and ROTC get junior year and is concerned.  We told him to take it one year at a time and see how it goes.

Monday morning we woke up early.  Stephen forgot to give me a form he needed me to take to the bank for signatures and was leaving at 7:30 to work in a VA hospital.

Then we had breakfast at Stephen's favorite breakfast place, Bill's Cafe.  It was a yummy way to begin our long ride home.  I did enjoy the beautiful blossoms on the trees along the way, although felt really bad about all of the bees that splattered on our windshield!

Overall it was a very successful trip for both college tours and visiting Stephen.  Hopefully he'll be able to come home for spring break.  Otherwise we won't have him back here until the END of summer.  Boo!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One Season Left of High School Soccer

This season of high school soccer for Nikki flew by!  With 12 graduating seniors last year, nobody expected they'd do very well this year.  They ended up not making into CIF playoffs, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they played.  And I think next year they should be fine as well.  It's hard to believe next year will be her final year playing high school soccer.  I am so proud of her for playing all four years.  It's been a struggle trying to balance club and high school.  And unfortunately her coaches didn't make it easy on her.  Then you throw in the fact that she's also got to find time to be a student, and well let's just say I'm very proud of her for sticking it out.  Their last game of the season will be tomorrow.  I hope they end it on a high note.  But they're playing the first place team, and their coach can't be on the bench for receiving a red card in the last game.  Hmm, oh well hopefully it'll be good memories anyway.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another volleyball weekend

So excited to get back to watching Ali play volleyball.  She's playing on the 13's team for a second season.  Last year she could've played on the 12's team, but they decided to play her up.  It was a tough beginning being that she was the only one that had never played before.  But as the season wore on, she gained some ground.  At this year's tryouts, she was hoping to stay with her former teammates and play on the 14's team.  Turns out the coaches thought it would be better for her (or them) to keep her on the 13's team for another year.  I think overall it was a good call since they'd switched her to be a setter. She is the only setter on the team and will get a lot of play time to develop.  And her team is having a great time together.

This group has about 5-6 girls that have never played club volleyball, and yet they are doing great as a team.  They are all supportive of each other and are learning so quickly.  Plus I know how quickly these days are going to go.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

December Happenings

Ali turned 13 and got to go get her makeup done professionally.  She bought some MAC makeup in natural colors and looks beautiful!

The girls bought tickets to go see Florida Georgia Line months before.  The day finally arrived!  They played in a small venue, so the girls got a great show.  Us parents drove them out there and then went and ate dinner at Flemmings while they were in the concert.  It worked out perfectly and we all had a great night!

This was our 3rd year heading out to Lawry's with The Filpi's to celebrate Christmas.  This year it was even more special because the boys had just gotten home from school.  We were all looking forward to our amazing meals in the weeks leading up to it.  It was a really yummy dinner with really great friends!!

New Years Eve 2013!

This year we volunteered to host.  We were having a group of 14 adults and all of their kids (plus a few extras) over for the evening.  The adults had a 7:00 dinner reservation at Union on Yale in Claremont.  We'd planned to bring in Vince's Spaghetti for the kids.  But when I arrived at 5PM to pickup our food I saw a sign on the door letting me know they were closed for New Year's Eve/Day.  Hmm this wasn't good.  Bill was working out, so I was on my own to come up with a solution by 6:00 when everyone would be arriving.  I opted for San Biagio and called in an order of pasta, bread and pizzas.  They got it all done and I got home by about 5:45, success!

This was the second year we'd gone to Union on Yale and it was great again.  The service wasn't quite as good this year, but the food was delicious.  After that the night was a blur.  We headed home, the kids opened their white elephant gifts and we played a game called Cards for Humanity.  It was pretty funny, although quite inappropriate.

It was a great night!  Although I think the recovery for Bill and I took a little long.  I think we enjoyed the evening at home a little too much.  But it was a great way to ring in the New Year!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Vitamix Wet Chopping

I've had my Vitamix blender for a couple of years now.  Of course when I first got it, we were making smoothies daily.  Then I've moved away from eating too much fruit so I haven't been blending or using my Vitamix as much as I'd like.  I remember sampling a tortilla soup at a Costco demonstration.  It was delicious and very easy to make.  At the time, I'd just figured I could google the recipe and make it at home.  Of course after searching it, I couldn't find the one they'd made.  Urgh!  I know this dang blender can do so much more than smoothies and I really want to use it more.

So when a friend told me about this "wet blending", I was intrigued.  She said she blends all of her vegetables this way and it's amazing.  You just coarsely chop up whatever veggie you're using and fill the blender with water.  Pulse the blender a few times and then strain it and you have perfectly minced veggies.  I tried it with cauliflower since I love cauliflower rice, but rarely feel like going through the effort with my food processor.  It literally took seconds!  I was amazed.  And it turned out fabulous!!

We've all talked about sharing recipes.  Someone at the gym even has a recipe for the tortilla soup!  I can't wait to get my hands on that one.  What's your favorite way to use your Vitamix?  I'd love to try some new things with mine.