Monday, December 28, 2009

foaming and fizzing fun

Julia received several science kits for Christmas. The girls and James had so much fun trying out a few of the experiments.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas celebrations

We had another wonderful celebration. I should say we had two wonderful celebrations since we visit with James' side of the family on Christmas Eve and my side on Christmas day.

I have been married to James for 11 years and this year was my 14Th year celebrating with his family on Christmas Eve. Grandma Stephanie cooks up a Ukrainian meal each Christmas Eve and I just love it. James grew up eating this meal or a version of this meal each year. Stephanie, too, grew up eating this meal in Canada with her Ukrainian parents.

it looks messy, but it tastes oh so good!

Traditionally, Ukrainians eat 12 different courses on Christmas Eve to symbolize the 12 apostles.Preparation for these meals can take days. Our meal is much smaller. No red meat is served. Only fish. Traditionally it is a white fish, but we had salmon with a mushroom and tomato sauce to die for. Varenyky (or pyrohy or perogies) is also served. Julia particularly is a perogi freak. She eats these once a week and seriously cannot get enough of them. We also had potato pancakes, grilled onions, and some delicious desserts.

The next afternoon we headed to my parents house. This year only our immediate family was there to celebrate the day. So weird. We missed everyone, but it was a very nice and relaxing day. Kristi made some beautiful, tasty, fruit skewers.

Aren't they pretty?

We had ham, bean and corn salad, green salad, homemade mac and cheese, rolls and cheesy potatoes. Delicious. The desserts there were good too. Christmas night...the girls and I made an impromptu visit and sleepover to Kayli's house. It was their first time sleeping on the floor, besides camping. They loved it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

raising money and a really long walk

So yesterday I was reading an article in my most recent Sunset magazine about a guy who retraced John Muir's trek to Yosemite. He was able to take 5 weeks of life off from his real life and go on this "walkabout". I was kind of jealous reading his story. For some reason I want to go on a really long walk/hike like that. I am not sure why, but I think I would just like the adventure.

Meanwhile I am trying to come up with new ways for our family to give back to society. Now that the girls are a bit older it is easier to do little things here and there together. Julia and I have raised funds and walked the AIDS walk in Orange County several times. This Christmas season, along with family and friends, we were able to adopt a family in our town and put together an entire Christmas meal and gifts. The girls helped wrap some of the presents and pack the food. My friend Julie and her girls, along with my girls, were able to deliver the assortment to the recipients home across town. I really want to have them do more hands on helping. I will work on that.

Back to the walk, today I signed up to raise money and walk 60 miles over 3 days. I am doing the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk for breast cancer in San Diego. I need to raise $2,300 in order to do so. I have my work cut out for me, but luckily I have 333 more days to raise it. I have some ideas, though, and I hope I can get the girls involved, too.

I am looking forward to exercising more, which is much needed, being outdoors, meeting new people, and giving back even it is just a small amount in the grand scheme of things.

I have created a new blog to talk about my journey in preparation for the walk from November 19 - 21, 2010.

3 Days and 60 Miles

Monday, December 21, 2009

yes it has been warm, but we have stylish winter wear, too

Julia's cute winter outfit she wore last week to school. This was prior to the 80 degree weather. Notice the snazzy stance.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

a big hike with caves and all

Julia, Kristi, and I went on a hike yesterday. A big one, 5.5 miles to be exact, and Julia completed it no problem. It took us about 2 hours and 45 minutes. We started around 2 pm and had to be out of the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Area before sunset. We cut it close.

In order to get to our destintations we needed to take several trails. The Aliso Creek Trail is a 15 mile trail that starts out in on Santiago Canyon Road and makes it all the way to the beach. We only needed to walk 1.5 miles of this paved trail. It was a hot day, 80 degrees. Seriously, it was that warm 6 days before Christmas. The next trail we took was Woodland Trail. We took that to the Cave Rock Trail and then hiked up, around, and through Cave Rock. It was pretty cool and we were the only people there. Julia was able to slide down a few of the holes.

Next we headed another mile or so to the dripping cave, aka robber's cave. It was big and there is a neat legend about robber's who used to hide here many year ago.

There are two creeks running through the park. We saw a large crane, rabbits, and a squirrel.

Julia was pretty funny. She brought the "necessities" for hiking in her bag. They are water, stickers, and perfume. That is exactly what a 6 year old needs in thw wilderness.

I will definitely be going back once the spring flowers come in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

looking back 2009 - post # 3 - rv sea explorer

Earlier in the year, James, Julia and I headed out to sea on the R/V Sea Explorer which is a marine educational and research vessel. We took a marine mammal cruise to see what we could see at sea. The difference with this cruise versus other local cruises is the research aspect, it was not crowded at all, and the kids are able to perform simple experiments at the end of the cruise such as drudging up mud from the sea floor and then sifting and carefully separating and sorting the bottom dwellers into water filled petri dishes. Julia loved this and it was just perfect for a 5 year old.

The day was great and we could not have asked for better weather. We only saw 1 grey whale migrating to warm Mexico waters from the cold north. A little boring as it was feeding and we only we able to catch small glimpses. The highlight was a pod of 200 or so dolphin. Just wonderful.

check out this small video of the pod.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

it's a tradition

When I was little my mom always had us decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. My sisters and I could not wait to do decorate either. Now that my mom is a grandma she still does use her same decorating strategy and now my sisters and our kids help grandma trim her and grandpa's tree each year.

Grandma's house is cool. She has a year-round Christmas tree decorated for each holiday and she does have a lot of snowmen.

Julia's ornament circa 2005. I just love that feisty look.

Later that afternoon our cousins visited. Below is the only shot I could get that was not blurry. Those kids are fast.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Tonight Julia, Grandma and Grandpa, and I went to see the musical Annie given by the South Orange County Performing Arts students at Dana Hills High School. The production was well done and those teenagers are so darn talented. I made sure we had front row seats and Julia really got a kick out of being so close. I have no pictures to share believe it or not. Looking forward to our next musical in the spring. It is Into the Woods and we will be seeing it at San Juan Hills High School theater where we saw Beauty and the Beast last spring. Now that theater is amazing for a high school.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I have too many posts swirling in my mind that I cannot seem to separate them from each other. I have a bit of blogger block. Too many fun an exciting things have happened lately that it seems like a bit of old news to talk about them. Julia received an award for being Caring and having enthusiasm for learning...WONDERFUL...Thanksgiving...wonderful, family visits...wonderful...birthday week for my 6 year and wonderful...Christmas cheer downtown with the and wonderful. Phew.What's next...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

girls weekend getaway - part 2 - san diego, ca

We left La Jolla and headed to our hotel on Shelter Island. There were plenty of places to run on the hotel property. We checked out the bay, boats, parrots and turtles, outside our room. Next we met my friends on Point Loma at the Cabrillo National Monument. The girls completed some tasks related to the monument and the history and they earned a junior ranger badge and certificate. They even had to take an oath to protect the national parks. Cute. Next we took in the amazing views and toured the old lighthouse. Fantastic. Next time we will do more hiking.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary

Early the next morning, after room service, we met our friends again at the San Diego Zoo. We were there 5 hours and saw the following, polar bears, rode in sky buckets, the new elephant exhibit, pandas, orangutans, meerkats, and much more. According to Julia the porcupine is a must see. We trekked for over an hour to the porcupine pen and never did see a porcupine...maybe next time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

girls weekend getaway - part 1 - la jolla, ca

We headed down to San Diego for a couple of days of non-stop walking and fun. Poor Serena had a cold, but she was a trooper the entire time. There were many stairs involved. First stop were a sea cave and seals. In La Jolla there is this touristy little store called The Cave Store. Nothing special is for sale in the store, but for two small children a private entrance to a sea cave is super, duper exciting. I must admit it is kind of cool. We paid our small fare and walked down 145 dimly lit, slippery stairs. The sound of the waves crashing boomed throughout the tunnel as we descended. A frightened 3 year old shed a few tears on the way down, but I coaxed her to the bottom inside the sea cave. Fun stuff!

without flash...this is how it really looked

with flash

looking out to the ocean

Next we took a long walk over to the sea wall for wave and seal viewing. On this particular day there must have been at least 50 seals sunning themselves. What a treat.

watching a body surfer..he is the little guy in the middle of the girls stop Shelter Island, San Diego

Sunday, November 15, 2009

fullerton arboretum

The girls and I drove to Anaheim to watch some of Julia's fellow dance students compete in Highland Dance. It was fun to watch and the girls sure got a kick out of it. The competition was held in an old church. Here is a pretty picture of the architecture.

After lunch we headed to the Fullerton Arboretum which is located on the Cal State Fullerton Campus. It was a clear, cool day to run through the gardens and this jaunt was free, minus the gas and lunch.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

day with aunt lori and kayli downtown san juan capistrano

Lori took Kayli on her first train ride. It was a very far 16 minutes from station to station. Serena and I met them and then we went to lunch at Ruby's. After that we headed over to our new favorite park on Los Rios. It was a wonderful, fall day. Of course, I could not resist taking a ton of pictures.

SJC is the "equestrian capital of the west" (not sure who proclaimed this)