Once upon a time, when we first moved into our new house more than 12 years ago, Sandy and I went to a Christmas Party at a neighbors house that the whole neighborhood seems to remember because…. While standing next to a candle, my shirt caught fire. Not a big fire, just enough to catch the attention of everyone while I danced around patting out the flames. Thus was born the Burning Man. So when I turned fifty, my wonderful neighbors threw me a Burning Man Party. There was even a tiny little burning man, who unlike me at that first party, was totally immolated. The kids went swimming, the adults went drinking, everyone went eating and having a great time.
The next week when I actually turned fifty, my family threw me a more intimate party with a cake, ice cream, presents and dinner at a sushi restaurant. Best day ever. I got a lego iPhone case, ton of “fifty-ish” gifts from the Hallers, some puzzles, and a Roku to watch all the stuff that’s not on Apple TV. I was a little down about the age, but friends and family brought me right back up again. And now that I’m officially retirement-eligible, if work gets to be awful, I can just quit and still get paid.
Lots of Fire
An actual burning “man”
Lots of presents
There were actually burning hills on my birthday. Mount Diablo caught fire.
Awesome cake. Awesomer kids.
Best sushi dinner ever
Dinosaur puzzle complete. Still a map puzzle to go.
Dan wanted to go to Legoland for Boys Day back in May, but when he found out that we could go to Universal Studios instead, he readily agreed. And it was just a coincidence that we ended up going on Sandy’s birthday. There was lots for the adults and Dan and Liz to do, but I felt bad because there wasn’t so much for Luke and Olivia. Although Luke was just tall enough to ride the Transformers ride. Everyone got to enjoy the backstage tram tour and it was my favorite part. Dan and Elizabeth loved the Jurassic park ride. It ended up being a bit too expensive and a bit too crowded, but we all still had a great time and it was a must see. After the park we went to dinner at a western place at the park’s entrance and while the food was just okay, it was fun watching Wade riding the bucking bronco machine. Later when we got back to the hotel, Sandy opened up some cards and presents. She got three cases. A makeup case, an iPad case, and an iPhone case. By then it was too late and we were too tired to do anything else. We still owe Sandy a birthday cake.
Jetliner crash on the backstage tour.
The bak lot as a back drop
Jaws ate my kids!
Wade gave some bird a dollar.
And then he rode a bucking bronco
Late and sleepy presents
We just got back from almost two weeks in Hawaii and we already want to go back. It was great hanging out with family, going to the beach, eating lots of wonderful food and playing tourist. We were there for Grandma’s birthday and started out the week going out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate. The kids loved hanging out with Jordan and the three of them spent lots of time chasing the hundreds of lizards that thrive in Grandpa’s back yard. Dan got Jordan and Miles to play this new card game he got called Munchkin and ended up playing almost every night before bed time. There were trips to the beach, hiking, sightseeing, the Bishop Museum, the state Farm Fair and lots of shopping and eating. We spent one morning visiting the spot at Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery where Jeanine spread Mom’s ashes. It’s a beautiful spot with a great view that she would have loved and visiting it made us all miss her again. We spent our last day going over old pictures and then going to a fantastic buffet, full of foods that are hard to find at home. We can’t wait until our next visit. Scroll down for two albums full of more pictures.
Happy Birthday Grandma
I’m thinking the lizards are happy we’re back in California
Paniolo Elizabeth at the Farm Fair
In Laie where we got married 20+ years ago
There’s lots more pictures of the trip here.
There’s so much wonderful flora and fauna, they get their own album here.
Daniel had the option of taking a trip or having a party for his eleventh birthday and chose a trip a museum in San Francisco. It wasn’t until two hours into the trip and some prodding from Elizabeth, that he realized we were going to Disneyland instead. The kids got a rare non-holiday four day weekend so we decided to check out new stuff like Cars Land, the Little Mermaid ride, and the revamped Star Tours at a time when we thought the place wouldn’t be so busy. Cars land was awesome and still new enough to be kind of busy with wait times for the Radiator Springs Racers ride being almost an hour. The rest of the park had very short lines. The Haller family spent every day with us there, and John and Deanna joined us for dinner and some Lego shopping one night. For his actual birthday dinner Dan chose Rainforest Cafe. He had to wait to get back the hotel room to open presents. He got a puzzle ball from his sister and a video game and promise of a new bike from mom and dad. Elizabeth rode every roller coaster she could and even outlasted me on California Screaming. We still cant decide if she really liked it or just was being braver than her brother.
Driving in Cars Land
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Mullholland Madness roller coaster is now Goofy’s flight school. Exact same coaster with new theme, works well. We rode it lots of times.
Lots of red on the new Star Speeder in Star Tours. We rode three time and went to three destinations. No repeats!
That daring young Elizabeth on her looping machine. California Screaming.
So the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is famous for it’s albino alligator so Dan was disappointed (only a little) that we missed that by going to Disneyland. But there was one in a Downtown Disney restaurant to make up for it.
Birthday cake Rainforest style.
Opening presents in our little hotel room.
We celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday by having some ice cream cake, and opening presents and then going out to eat at Yanagi Sushi. She got a bike from Mom and Dad, and a nerf gun, a Pokemon and bouncy ball making craft set from Daniel. The next weekend she had a party at the East Bay SPCA. Her and about 10 of her friends played some games and learned about animals before going on a tour of the facility. They finished up with her second birthday cake. Instead if bringing presents for Elizabeth, the attendees brought donations for the dogs and cats there. Lots of fun and turned out to be a great party idea.
Halfway done with some California rolls, waiting for noodles and soft shell crab.
Ice cream cake with ice cream cones.
Making a wish
Yep! Those little ice cream cones were edible.
Opening cards and presents
Trying her brand new bike out at the school yard.
At the SPCA holding Jenny
Puppy excited because all the kids are coming to visit.
The kids are checking out the cats and the cats are checking out the kids.
Cute Cuddly Kitten
Learning about the veterinarians.
Checking out the dogs.
Waiting to be adopted. One is wearing the “cone of shame.”
Petting Wilbur the Guinea Pig
A second birthday cake.
And a second birthday wish
Cake with friends is always a good thing.
Hard to believe I’m almost 50. But there it is. We celebrated the day with a birthday breakfast, some cake and some presents. The family got me lots of accessories for our new electric car including University of Hawaii floor mats and an Oakland A’s antenna ball. Afterwards, unfortunately, I had to go to work and despite that, it was a great day.
Thank god there weren't 49 of them.
Big Deal, 49 years to get to 49, try getting to 77 in only 11 years.
Since I had to work in the afternoon, we celebrated Sandy’s birthday in the morning which started with french toast, then candles to be blown out, cards and presents to be opened, ice cream cake to be eaten, and lunch at Red Robin. This wasn’t her first choice but he favorite restaurant was closed on Saturday so we’ll have to make it up to her another time. She ended up getting a new iPhone case from Dan because her old one was too slickery. She got a beautiful stainless steel spice carousel from Elizabeth to go in her new kitchen. And she got an iPad mostly to read books on because it’s kind of hard to read them on the iPhone. It was a fun morning. Happy Birthday Wonderful Wife.
Cake and Presents
Blowing out candles
Daniel’s tenth birthday came on a school night so we celebrated with a cake and ice cream and presents and then went to his favorite restaurant, which is the rest of the family’s least favorite, Applebees. He ended up getting some more Wii games and accessories, a cool Mario Kart Knex race track that he had to build and some Heelys. A couple of weekends later to celebrate we took three of his friends to go see Star Wars Phantom Menace in 3D and eat lunch at Fuddruckers.
A couple of monkeys
Given the option to have a party, Elizabeth chose to go the Monterey Aquarium instead. The only couple of days available where both I and the kids had off was during Christmas break, so last Thursday we packed up the car and headed south. First we stopped in Santa Cruz and were surprised to find a really fun indoor mini golf course at the Boardwalk. It was pirate themed and the decor came close to the standard of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We all agreed that it was the best miniature golf course we’d been to. Dan and I rode the Giant Dipper and then after a merry-go-round ride and lunch, we continued down the coast to Monterey. We renewed our membership then spent the afternoon and evening watching sea life. A pizza and cake party in the room followed. The next day we did more aquariuming before heading back home.
Yesterday on her actual birthday, Elizabeth wanted ice cream instead of more cake, so after school we all had some and she got a couple more presents. She now has new Crocs and a pink Razor scooter to replace the one she grew out of. She’s been riding the scooter every chance she gets.
Birthday Pictures are here
For her birthday, Sandy got some iPhone (puzzle) apps, Hello Kitty pajamas and slippers, some thongs (with arch support) and a pedometer (to replace the one we lost at the Orange County Fair). There was cake and ice cream and we all went to Eddie Papa’s for dinner. Elizabeth and Daniel both had lots of fun picking out and giving her her presents but had even more fun eating the cake and ice cream. Happy Birthday Sandy.
Decorating a Birthday Card
Making a Wish
Opening Cards and Presents
Cute Hello Kitty Slippers
We tried to talk Daniel into a party for his birthday but he really just wanted to go spend a night in a hotel and do something. So we stayed a night in San Francisco and visited the Exploritorium. First we checked into our Fisherman’s Wharf hotel and went for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. After eating and Dan’s getting a birthday sundae, we headed to Pier 39 and watched sea lions and rode the carousel. On the way back the hotel we stopped at Boudin’s Bakery to get some of Dan’s favorite food, bread. The next morning, after getting lost and having to cross the Golden Gate Bridge twice, we headed to the Exploritorium which is a hands on science museum at the Palace of Fine Arts near the bridge. After most of the day there we came home for cake and presents. Here’s some pix.
So for Elizabeth’s birthday, she decided to have a party at our house and invite some of her friends. There was a Hello Kitty cake, Hello Kitty wrapping paper, Hello Kitty gift bags, Hello Kitty rings, a pin the bow on the Hello Kitty game, Hello Kitty coloring books, well, you get the picture. A very fun and very pink party with lots of girls having lots of fun. Pics are here.
Today I had a growth spurt, and I turned six. I went to school, and my class made me a birthday book. A birthday book is book that people get on their birthday. It has birthday wishes from my friends in it. They wrote them and drew pictures too. I shared Hello Kitty scooter pies with the whole class. Some people didn’t want them, but all of the people liked them. Then I came home and I played upstairs. Then Daniel wanted me to go downstairs. Then I had my birthday cake. It was a Hello Kitty birthday cake. It was very yummy. Then I opened presents. I got a backpack and I got boots. I also got Cutants. Daniel gave me a vet kit. I gave my animals shots. I’m going to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Chiptotle. Then I’m going get something for Daniel at Panera like a croissant. It was a fun day, and it was my birthday. More pictures and drawings are here.
After Jeanine, Wade and Luke took me out for a great seafood dinner on my birthday in Long Beach, I came home to celebrate with my family on Saturday. I loved all the stuff I got: a fantastic home-made cake, my very own Crocs (thats a lot of rubber when you make them in a size 12), Starcraft II for my Mac, and an amazingly excellent sounding Ipod stereo dock. Unfortunately mom was the sickest I’ve ever seen her during all of this, so that kind of overshadowed everything, but it made me appreciate the time spent with my fantastic loving family even more.
Sandy started her birthday celebration this weekend with a small party at home. After opening her new pair of Crocs and her new Iphone case, she found out the family was taking her to the city to spend the night at the Hyatt and see a couple of shows. We took BART into the city on Friday night and after checking in and going to dinner, we were assailed by the Critical Mass bike ride, and once-a-month bike protest against the dangers of biking in rush hour in the city. I was surprised to see several naked riders at the protest rally point in front of our hotel. We then went to see Peter Pan 360, part musical, part amusement park ride, where a screen surrounds the audience in the round and we get to fly through London and onto Neverland with the cast. Very cool. The next day, after breakfast and some morning shopping, we went to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Golden Gate Theater. I was surprised how closely it followed the movie, but there were a couple of added songs. Pictures are here.
I don’t know why but all of the little food places around our hotel were closed on Saturday afternoon. Because of that, we ended up eating dinner at the same restaurant, Gotts Burgers, both Friday and Saturday night. Good food, but after two meals in two nights, I think we’re done with that restaurant for a while.
Just got back from our Southern California Vacation and are happy to be home since the last two days were spent with the kids very very sick. We started out by picking up Miles and Jordan from LAX and headed to the La Brea Tar pits and to Farmers Market for breakfast. Then we met Wade, Jeanine, Mike and Luke to see Toy Story 3 at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. After the movie, we went to a Toy Story Fun Fair behind the theater and we rode rides, played on a playground, saw a show, did some crafts, and ate some ice cream.
The next day we went to a little kids amusement park in Stanton called Adventure City, a tiny little place that somehow crammed tons of rides into a quarter of a city block. That night we went to Pirate Dinner Adventure Theater with Jeanine and Luke and John and Deanna. Okay food and okay show but the kids had fun and it was great to spend some rare time with John and Deanna. We wanted to spend more with them but….
Almost all of the rest of the time was spend at Disneyland riding rides and eating and spending money. Tuesday night we went to Dodger Stadium to watch them hit three home runs and beat the Marlins. We sat in the bleachers which was interesting as they don’t let you leave the bleacher area to visit the rest of the stadium, but the fans there are a bit more rowdy than the other sections which made it a lot of fun. Go Dodgers!!!
On Wednesday there was an earthquake so for much of the day the rides were shut down. Also, we didn’t get to see the much lauded World of Color show at California Adventure because something broke during the earthquake safety checks, and that was after we waited half an hour in the morning for tickets and waited more than an hour in the middle of a restless mob that wanted to see the show. It would have been understandable except they didn’t tell us there wouldn’t be a show until well after we should have been let into the viewing area.
We went to Long Beach after Disneyland and so wanted to go to Johns birthday party at Jeanine’s house, but at about one a.m. the night before, the kids started throwing up with headaches and stomach aches. It was extra sad when Elizabeth cried because we couldn’t go to the party. They were throwing up off and on for both of our Long Beach hotel days, so much so that Daniel made us quit using any throw up, puke, vomit, and hurl-ish type words and to just say “flower” instead. Elizabeth was achey and whiny all the way home and only just started feeling better when she saw her own room.
They both got their appetites back when they got home, so I think everything’s okay now. If we erase the last two days, it was a great vacation, even with the earthquake stuff. But we sure regret not spending more time with family or visiting Grandma.Pictures of the trip are here.
For Dan’s B-Day we headed to Monterey and spent the night at a hotel where we had some cake and he opened some presents. The next day was spent at the aquarium and at an oceanfront restaurant for lunch before heading home. He always picks seafood restaurants, not for the fish, but for the yummy sourdough. He did enjoy some calamari too, though. Here’s the picture gallery.
We went to Sacramento to celebrate Elizabeth’s birthday. We saw the animals and then went to Fairytale Town across the street to see some farm animals and go down some cool slides. Then we came home for ice cream cake.
Pictures are here
We found a great deal to Hawaii and so it was our Christmas present. The trip coincided with Daniel’s seventh birthday. We got to sight see, play on the beach, visit Hawaii family and have a birthday party for Dan. Lots of Wii playing on Jordan’s Wii while there and toward the end, Dan found out that he got a Wii of his own for his birthday.
Pics are here
This is a great time of year for our kids. Shortly after a crazy Christmas full of toys and fun, birthdays quickly follow. And this year the kids were really lucky because right in between Elizabeth and Daniel’s birthdays, a box full of presents arrived from Uncle John and Auntie Deanna. We could barely get Elizabeth’s Tickle Me Elmo out of the box before she started giggling. The box has a button that she could push to let her hear the laughing sound. When she got it open it was even more funny since Elmo falls down as he’s laughing. I was really impressed with the technology that lets him stand back up again on his own. Daniel got a basketball game in miniature form. We were playing it right away . Thanks again Uncle John and Auntie Deanna!!
More pics are here!