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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nikki the cake decorator

My lovely teenaged daughter has begun a cake decorating class.  She is so creative, that I think this is a great opportunity for her.  The first week they decorated cookies.  This week they moved on to frosting a cake, and next week it will be fillings.  I am so impressed with the cake she made yesterday.  She and her friend want to start selling their cakes to make some money.  They have this grand plan of babysitting and baking cakes to make money over the next 8 months so that her friend can go on vacation with us over the summer.  They seem to think we're going back to Hawaii, even though that has yet to be decided.  Oh well more power to them.  Their cakes are beautiful!  The photo doesn't do it justice, but I'm going to include it anyway!

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's over :-(

Well we made it through the holidays.  It was such a great year!  I can't even begin to think about the whole year, but the month of December was certainly peaceful.  I haven't even downloaded my pictures yet.  Maybe next week when the kids are back in school.  Today I started my spring cleaning a bit early.  I got on a mission to clean every cupboard in this house.  I made it through the family room, the bar, the hallway and most of the kitchen.  It felt really good!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Last night we had a fun group of old friends over for dinner.  Bill arranged it all on his last "guys night out".  There was Pat & Tia Shea, Mark Damaske, Scot & Gina Moga, Phil Velto & his girlfriend Becki, John & Lisa Filpi, Steve Weck and his girlfriend March and us.  We had picked up Vince's spaghetti to make life easier, and it turned out to be a great idea.  I was able to relax and enjoy visiting with everyone, and didn't once  have to worry about food.  It was such a nice night catching up with people we haven't seen in ages and others that we see all of the time.  It's definitely something we'll have to do again!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy 10th Birthday Ali!

We made it through another sleepover, and by we I mean me!  Ali had invited 10 girls to sleepover.  Nine were able to come and six slept over.  She was disappointed that they all couldn't stay, I was thankful.  Six is manageable.  We rented an obstacle course jumper, which turned out to be a great vehicle for exhaustion.  They did a scavenger hunt around 8:00, had cake and jumped and jumped.  By 11:30 I turned off the TV and told them to tell scary stories.  By 11:45 they were all asleep.  Unfortunately one of the girls had an early baseball game and had to leave at 7:15.  That was the end of the peaceful morning.  I'd made homemade cinnamon rolls so they had those with some eggs and sausage for breakfast.
I can't believe my baby is ten years old.  It seems like only yesterday when she was born.  She's always been tall and mature, but at the same time still definitely the baby of the family.  She has such a great personality and is so smart!  I am so lucky to have had her.  I am the luckiest mom in the world to have such great kids!  Happy Birthday Pals!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

USF-University of San Francisco

I decided to write a little bit more detail about some of the colleges we visited, in part so I'll remember!  USF is a small, private, Catholic university.  It's a bit easier to get into than some of the other schools we visited.  The required GPA was about 3.5, weighted.  If you have a 3.8 GPA, plus score 30 on the ACT that automatically got you entrance as well as $19k yearly.  It was similar to Stanford in the flexibility of required classes.  They have general ed like most schools except there is a lot of room to play with those classes.  The girl leading the talk said she isn't good at math so instead of taking a math class she took an iphone app class and that counted as math credit.  They also really push you to do some time overseas.  One of their business majors you spend three trimesters abroad and graduate with a masters in 5 years.  It sounded like it could be a really great school.  The downside is that they don't have water polo, and don't have a lot of majors.  Plus even with the $19k discount in tuition, it's still quite high.  So that's my take on USF.  I think it ended up middle of the list after first look.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Final days of our road trip

Well we ended up not making it to UC Davis.  It was too long of a drive to see another school that I'm pretty sure he wouldn't like.  So we spent the time in San Francisco.  Wednesday night when we arrived, we only had time for dinner.  So we walked to The Cheesecake Factory in Macy's.  That Macy's was amazing!  It was 7 stories high!  So we had a 20 minute wait for dinner and ended up buying Nikki a pair of jeans and Ali a pretty hair clip.  We were really looking forward to spending the next day in a shopping bliss when the store employee told us they'd be closed for Thanksgiving.  Huh?? Why didn't we consider that as a possibility?  Here we'd been so excited to shop all day.  We had a nice time anyway.  We had breakfast on the 36th floor of our hotel, then walked to the movie theatre.  The girls and I watched one movie (The Social Network) and the boys watched another (Unstoppable).  Then we all met up and the kids went ice skating.  We headed back to the hotel for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
Friday, the girls wanted to shop.  But I had to break it to them that I DON'T do black Friday.  I can't stand crowds and I never find anything I like on sale anyway.  So we got up, checked out and went to Gott's.  It's the former Taylor's Refresher that Bill and I ate at several times while in Napa.  We had burgers, fries and oreo shakes at 11:30 in the morning.  It was the perfect way to end our fabulous trip!  We had a great time and got some good college info.  We'll still have to find a few more schools that aren't such a reach to get into, but it's definitely a start.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

3rd day of colleges

So the next stop was UC Berkeley.  We drove through a seedy downtown and parked in that downtown area.  We walked up to the campus and didn't know where to begin.  Stephen was grouchy because he didn't like the town already.  Unfortunately the campus was closed due to the holiday so we weren't able to set up any tours.  A lady there pointed us in the direction of the pool so we headed that way.  Stephen said he didn't even care if we saw that because he had no interest in that school.  Being that it's a little liberal for me, and so tough to get into we said, "okay, let's go".  We didn't have much time until our appointment at University of San Francisco so off we went.
All I knew about USF was that it was another small, Catholic school that Jen had recommended as well.  Here we had an informational meeting as well as a tour.  At first Stephen said he wouldn't even consider it because he didn't feel he could deal with the big city.  After the tour he had said it seemed like a good school.  The down side is that they had an awesome pool, but no water polo or swim team.  That was a definite downer.  They did have D1 soccer, which Nikki liked.
At the end of that day, we all talked about the schools.  They all liked all of them except for Cal Poly SLO.  They all said it just wasn't their kind of school, whatever that means!  I think at this point it goes like this:
Santa Clara
We may try to squeeze in UC Davis.  We'll see how it goes.

2nd stop on our college road trip!

So our 2nd stop was at Santa Clara University.  This is a small, Catholic school that was recommended to me by our college planner.  I knew only the basics about it, as well as that it had a D1 water polo team, which was obviously a plus.  We went on a tour in the rain and then sat for a short, informational talk.  It sounds like a tough school to get into.  Grades and test scores need to be high.  Being a water polo player will help.  We all really liked the school, even if it does seem a bit small.  The girls really liked it, and though I think Stephen would do well there, I think it might be a better fit for the girls.
Next stop was Stanford.  We had an informational meeting only scheduled.  The meeting was very good, and they mentioned a tour afterward.  We begged and they agreed to let us join the tour even though it was full.  Of course the tour sealed the deal.  It makes it so much more personal to have someone explaining the buildings and letting you inside.  The church was beautiful as was the campus.  The story behind it was very cool too.  The original Stanford family had a son that died at the age of 16.  They wanted something to carry on his memory and decided on a university.  One of the 5 things that they agreed upon was that they would never sell any of the land.  It is an amazing place.  I don't know how high grades need to be to get into Stanford, but I know it would be much higher than where Stephen is now.  It's definitely something to work towards.
At dinner that evening we talked about the favorites so far.  They all liked UCSB the best, with Stanford and Santa Clara right behind.  Next stop will be Cal and USF...

Monday, November 22, 2010

College Tour Road Trip

We hit the road!  Stephen doesn't get much time off throughout the year; a week at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas and three weeks in the summer.  Since summer is usually reserved for a family vacation we figured we won't have much time left to visit colleges.  We decided to take a few days and see a few colleges in Northern California.  Our first stop was UCSB.  I had a feeling it was going to be like when you are shopping for an important occasion.  You try on a million dresses and end up buying the first one you saw.  UCSB is beautiful!  It was everything Stephen and Nikki both wanted in a school.  They were both completely sold.  We visited the rec center, the pools, I.V (the party housing) and the visitor center.  We then decided to scrap the visit to UCSC because the write up in my book wasn't very favorable.  We instead hit Cal Poly SLO.  The kids all thought it wasn't nearly the school that UCSB was and had no interest in hanging out too long.  We had lunch near the campus and they were all okay with that, but both Stephen and Nikki said it wasn't a school that would be high on their list.  I think the beauty of UCSB completely overpowered anything else they would have seen that same day.  Next stop...Santa Clara University and Stanford.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I certainly had someone looking out for me today.  I took Stephen out of school to get his permit to drive.  We got to the DMV in Fontana about 20 minutes early.  We went straight to the counter and were promptly helped.  After reviewing his forms, she stated the only thing missing was an original birth certificate.  OMG!  I didn't have that in the file.  I asked her if I ran home and got it could we still get our appointment today (as the line for walk ins was around the building).  She said possibly.  So off we ran.  Our appointment was scheduled for 10:10 and I walked in our front door at 10:10, great!  Stephen was already a little stressed about the test, I'm sure this was helping.  On the way back I told him we'd just stand in line if they cancelled his appointment and we'd make it work.  So as I'm speeding along at about 85 mph, I pull up next to a CHP car, that might I say looked NOTHING like a CHP car!  I hit the brakes, but alas she pulled right behind me and hit her lights.  I pulled off and grabbed my purse, hoping to get this over with as quickly as possible.  I was only a 1/2 mile from our exit!!  She asked me what my hurry was, and I explained our situation.  She started laughing and said I certainly wasn't a good example to my son.  I told her that's what the DMV will do to a person.  She blessedly let me off with a warning, the first time in my life that's ever happened!  So off we went to the DMV and miraculously the DMV lady took his birth certificate and moved us along without so much a word.  At that point we were 35 minutes past his appointment time.  And after all of that, Stephen only missed 3 questions on his test and now has his permit!  Whew!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Banana Bread

I know I said I've come to embrace cooking a good meal for my family, but alas I still LOVE to bake.  I just wish I didn't LOVE to eat the fruits of my labor.  I just pulled two loaves of banana bread out of the oven.  Within 5 minutes the first loaf was just about gone.  There's about two slices left.  And no I didn't eat it all myself.  My three little munchkins helped me.  Next on my list to make is an apple pie.  I'm going to attempt to make the crust by scratch.  We'll see how it ends up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My poor baby

Who knew that darned front tooth of Stephen's would continue to haunt him?  He had it pulled in September when we found out it was being re-absorbed by his body & disappearing.  Then we found out some of the bone had been absorbed as well.  So we went for a consult on bone grafting.  The 3 options aren't fabulous.  1) He can have two separate surgeries.  One to remove bone from somewhere else in his body and the second to place it. 2) He can use a cadaver bone 3) He can use a new treatment that uses stem cells to regenerate your own bone.  I know this sounds like the obvious answer, but the failure rate is really high...we have a year to decide on this.
Next after tiring of the flipper, we decided to let him be a guinea pig and try Dr. Tracey's TTR implant.  It's like a temporary, permanent tooth.  He uses a mini screw in the bone and attaches a tooth to that.  The mini screw doesn't permanently implant in the bone.  So he had the screw inserted yesterday and Dr. T said he wasn't thrilled with how easily the screw went in.  He said it means the bone may be more gone than they'd realized, and the screw may not hold.  We just have to wait to see.  Great!  Next Thursday he's supposed to have the tooth put in.  Let's hope it lasts at least a year.  Then we can move forward.  I'm tired of this waiting to see what is going to happen, and I'm sure Stephen is tired too.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We survived the big party!  Bill went all out with the Haunted House.  There were over 60 of Nikki's closest friends here, about 10 of the big kids to help scare in the haunted house, Ali had 2 friends over and we had 6 other adults here for extra eyes.  It was a really fun night!  The DJ kept the music blasting and the kids all had a great time.  Today we got the whole house cleaned up and the haunted house disassembled.  Bill and Stephen went to John and Victoria's to scare people and I took Nikki and Ali out trick or treating.  It's going to take us a week to recover!  It was a crazy few days!  Stephen had a water polo tournament on Friday and Saturday.  Friday we left Damien at 4:00 and didn't get home until 10:30.  We had to leave Saturday morning at 7:15 and got home at 4:30.  People started arriving for the party at 5:00.  It was a complete mad rush!  I was able to bake the brownies and cupcakes just in time.  We had tons of snacks left over.  I guess I over bought snacks, although the baked stuff got eaten pretty good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bieber Fever!

Let me first say that Ali LOVES Justin Bieber.  I had gotten an email about a month ago for suites at the Honda Center for the Justin Bieber concert.  I had mentioned to Bill that it might be a great surprise for Ali to rent the suite and have her friends all buy tickets to go.  It was $3000 for 30 people, which I didn't figure was too bad.  The problem was finding 30 people that wanted to go see that concert.  So we decided to scrap the idea and moved on.
So last night at 5:30, just as we're finishing dinner, I get a phone call from Pam asking if I have any interest in going to a Justin Bieber concert that oh yeah starts at 7:00.  Well Ali was sitting next to me and heard every word and starts bouncing up and down begging and praying.  Pam said she wasn't positive they were still available but she could call Karen and find out if I was interested.  I told her to check it out and I'd see if I could swing changing our evening around.  Well it all worked out and we ended up taking Grace, Millie and Leslie as well.  Karen had 6 tickets to a suite and a parking pass!!  The girls screamed their heads off the entire night and had a fabulous time!  I'm so glad that we decided to just go for it.  It would've been so much easier to say it was too late, too much trouble, etc but I'm so thankful that we didn't.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bill's Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband!  Thankfully the Village Venture was only on Saturday because he would have been REALLY sad to have missed bagels on his birthday.  Then we were off to Nikki's soccer game.  They were playing Los Gauchos, and knew it was going to be a tough game.  Ended up losing 1-0, but it was a good fight.

Stephen went to Damien to give tours to prospective students and their families for next year.

Not sure yet where we're heading for dinner.  As of about 3:00, Bill said he was leaning towards Tokyo Kitchen.  That is probably the kid's first choice anyway.  Too much salt for me, but hey it ain't my birthday!  All in all it's been a great Sunday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My first blog

I thought this might be a fun way to keep track of what we're up to as well as keep friends and family up to date with what going on in our lives.  Let's start with today...Nikki was supposed to have a soccer game in Burbank but it was cancelled because the middle school didn't want them to mess up their field.  Ali played her AYSO game still though.  Her team is undefeated and they were playing the other undefeated team.  They won 3-1, in a great game!

We had a turkey dinner at home, with some homemade oatmeal bread.  It was yummy and nice to have a night at home relaxing.