Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas!

As always, getting to spend time with our families during Christmas week was one of the very best parts of our year. We went to Weatherford, TX for the first half of the week to visit my parents & brothers, who had also come "home" for the holidays. We've gone to Texas almost every Christmas of my life to visit relatives, but this is the first time my parents have called Texas home in about 35 years! They seem to love it - especially because they're able to see their siblings much more often now. We got to visit their church and take a guided tour of their new town & surrounding area. We also had a delicious meal & fun get-together with my mom's side of the family - it seems like it gets harder & harder to get everyone together each year, but we love spending time with our extended family!

The second part of Christmas week was in Williamsburg, VA with the Jesters. We have three nephews on that side, and they are the life of the party! Our days revolved around playtime, good food, more playtime, naps (those were primarily for us!), more get the picture. After the kids went to bed, the adults would break out the games and continue playtime late into the night. We got to attend Christmas Eve service and Sunday morning service at Dan's folks' church, and several family friends joined us for Christmas dinner. Dan's mom made filet mignon and salmon this year for Christmas instead of the traditional turkey dinner, and it was as delicious as any gourmet restaurant!

We wish that our holiday time was unlimited, but we loved every minute we had! We're so thankful for Jesus' birth, his perfect life, and his sacrificial death, through which we have the gift of salvation and adoption as God's sons & daughters! We're especially thankful this time of year for the blessings he's given us, like our wonderful families, good health, steady jobs, and a loving marriage. 2009 has been such a good year, and we're already looking forward to what 2010 will bring!

I forgot to take pictures during our visit to TX, but I did get this sweet photo from our extended family get-together. My great-aunt Merle turned 98 years old this December, so we celebrated her birthday. She's sitting in the rocking chair with her daughter, Berle Ann, on the left and my Uncle Brian and Aunt Margaret on the right.

Our incredibly cute 9-month-old nephew, Aaron

Our nephews Nathan (front) and Benjamin were so much fun to play with! This was their gingerbread house masterpiece.

The house was demolished as the days went by. We blame Bumblebee.

The Jester Family

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to Dan!

It's Dan's birthday today!! Although our trip to Canada and the hockey games were all one big birthday party as far as he was concerned, he still managed to do a lot of celebrating today. The staff at his school went all out with balloons, streamers, doughnuts, cake, Chinese food, more cake, a special song, cards, gift cards, etc. And of course the kids heard about it, too, so he got lots of "happy birthdays" and random offers of food from their lunch boxes. When we got home from work, he was on the phone for at least an hour talking to family members who wanted to wish him a happy birthday. And then I took him out to dinner at the only good BBQ restaurant we have in San Diego, and made his favorite chocolate cream pie for dessert. After all that food, he says so far he feels a little fatter this year than he did last year. I say he looks better than ever.

At the end of the day, there is no doubt how much he is loved. Especially by me. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Canadian Thanksgiving, Eh?

This Thanksgiving, we took a trip to the motherland of hockey - Canada! Dan wants to see games at every NHL arena in his lifetime, and we got the chance to watch hockey in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver during the holiday weekend. It was also fun to see the areas of Canada we'd never visited before. Dan loved it, of course - the whole culture there revolves around hockey. Kind of the way Americans love football.

Although we were in another country, it didn't feel like it. Except they had "washrooms" instead of restrooms and they're on the metric system. They had many of the same hotels, restaurants, and stores that we have, and the driving laws were similar. The one big difference is that people actually follow the rules there. For instance, people drive at least within 10 miles of the speed limit and only use the left lanes of the freeway when they're passing someone. And when the road merges from three lanes to two lanes, no one uses the right lane that they know is about to end to cut off all the cars that are waiting patiently in line. We were in awe.

Anyway, we had a great time and got to see a lot of places in a few short days. Plus, it actually felt like winter there, so it was easier to believe that the holidays have arrived! Below are some photos of our whirlwind trip.

We started in Calgary, which is a beautiful metropolis in the middle of farmland.

Watching the Calgary Flames play the Phoenix Coyotes

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. It was so beautiful, and reminded us of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

From Calgary, we drove to Edmonton, where it got REALLY COLD.

Look! No cars in the left lane! (except for us because we were passing someone at that very moment, I swear!)

Dan brushed snow off our car for the first time in about 5 years!

We spent several hours walking through the West Edmonton Mall - the largest mall in North America. They've got all their entertainment rolled up inside the mall, including the ice skating rink above.

And a giant wave pool/water park

They had several animal shows going on during the day - we saw the sea lion show.

They have a huge pirate ship in one of the mall sections

And last but not least, they have an entire amusement park inside the mall! We rode the biggest roller coaster they had there, and it was so funny to go up the hill towards the ceiling.

Dan ordered a local specialty - Poutine, which is made of french fries, gravy, and cheese. I guess it's no worse than chili cheese fries, but I thought it was weird.

After a full day at the mall, we watched the Edmonton Oilers play the San Jose Sharks

After touring Edmonton, we flew to Vancouver for our last hockey game. We had a few hours before it started, so we drove to Stanley Park and found the exact place where Dan proposed to me over 7 years ago! Definitely one of the best spots in the world, in my opinion!

Our final game before heading home was Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers. We both love watching hockey live, and if we move to a city with a hockey team, we'll definitely get season passes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Flying Required

For us, that is. Because Dan's parents came to visit us last week in San Diego! We loved having them here and they got to trade a week of flash floods in Virginia for perfect weather in San Diego. Not bad!

We drove up to Los Angeles on Saturday & Sunday to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, John MacArthur's church, and Universal Studios Hollywood. But other than that, we enjoyed spending time together at home & around San Diego. Although we had to work some of the days they were here, they're excellent at entertaining themselves and we loved coming home to them after work. The best part is that we don't have to miss them for too long before we see them at Christmastime!

Cheering for CCA at the high school football game

We stopped at the LEGO store in Downtown Disney so Mom & Dad could do some Christmas shopping while Dan & I took goofy photos with the displays

The best part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - touring Air Force One!

There's also an exact replica of the Oval Office

And a piece of the Berlin Wall

On the red carpet at Universal Studios Hollywood

I thought it would be funny to take a picture of this Jurassic Park dinosaur "spitting" at Mom & Dad. But I forgot that there was another dinosaur behind me, and I got shot with water in the back of the head just as I was snapping the photo! Hence the blurriness of the picture.

We visited Seaport Village to shop at this pretty kite store

Soaking up the sun at San Diego Bay

Friday, November 13, 2009

3 Miles for a Cause

Last weekend I joined a group of my coworkers to run the Shelter Island 5k to benefit Wounded Warriors, an organization that assists injured veterans and their families. My company has hired employees through Wounded Warriors, so it's a cause that's near and dear to our hearts. We all finished at our own paces, but my coworker Jenny and I stuck together and chatted the entire way, which made the miles go by much faster! I finished in 572nd place, in case you're wondering. Whoo hoo! :)

Jenny and I at the 2nd mile. You notice that she's not looking at the camera. That's because I didn't bother telling her that our picture was being taken until we passed the photographer. I was busy smiling and trying to look energetic for the photo. Priorities, you know.

The Epsilon team before the race - although there were several people who showed up too late to be in the group photo

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rough Job

Dan got beat up this week at his job - literally. The high school went on a retreat on Thursday and Friday where they played a nighttime hide-and-seek/capture the other team game, which has a tendency to get intense every year. Dan came home with some new injuries - a broken toe and probably a fractured rib also. That man is too competitive! He wanted me to post a picture of his purple toe, but I'll do you all a favor and spare you. It's pretty spectacular, though.

As if he hadn't had enough, tonight was the school/church Harvest Festival and Dan was "nominated" to be in the dunk tank. He's an unfailing good sport, and gave a lot of good smack talk no matter how many time he got dunked.

Oh well, he'll recover but I think he'll just be watching hockey on TV for the next few weeks instead of playing.

Still dry and ready to go



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Universal Studios Hollywood

We spent a fun Saturday at Universal Studios Hollywood with some of Dan's friends from work, Paul and Chris, and their wives, Ann and Adessa. It was Chris and Adessa's first time to go (Adessa had gone to the studios 20 years earlier, but it was before they had all the fun rides so it doesn't count). Maybe it's because we're not from the area, but Dan and I have made sure to hit all the great amusement parks, National Parks, and lots of other points of interest in Southern CA. Or maybe we just refuse to grow up, even though our bodies are getting too old to handle rollercoasters well. Anyway, it's so much more fun to go with a group of friends and nobody threw up after riding the rides. I'd call that a pretty darn good day. :)

By the way, the new Simpson's ride is really well done. It's an IMAX/simulator experience, so definitely not for the faint of stomach! But very cool!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

San Diego Super Chargers

We had a great time today at the Chargers vs. Ravens game with our friends, Paul and Ann. It was my first NFL game, which is somewhat sad since I've lived in three cities with pro football teams. I thoroughly enjoyed all the big money hoopla surrounding the actual sport - there was always something interesting going on, including the antics of the football-crazed (and drunk) fans. The Chargers lost, unfortunately, but it was an exciting game with some great moments!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Labor Day in Italy....Texas

We had the absolute best Labor Day weekend in TX with my mom's side of the family. It was a whirlwind, but we finally got to see my parent's new digs in Weatherford and visit my Uncle Brian and Aunt Margaret's brand new Lost Creek Ranch House near the town of Italy, which they built specifically to host family gatherings such as this. The whole extended family made it, which is a miracle in itself, with everyone's busy schedules! My cousin, Kyle, had been working for a private contractor in Israel and had only returned home on Sunday. He and his wife, Melissa, pretty much drove straight to the family reunion from the airport. That's the kind of dedication our family has for spending time together, and I love it!

We filled every moment with fun group games (Spades, Catch Phrase, Mafia, Chicken Foot, and 31), whiffle ball homerun derbies, a big family whiffle ball game, dirt bike and 4-wheeler rides, lots and lots of delicious southern food, and catching up and telling hilarious stories. Dan and I love spending time with our families and it's wonderful to have such a perfect place for everyone on my mom's side to gather. Lost Creek Ranch is a 100-acre property, and my aunt and uncle are building a 2 acre fishing pond behind the house, so the place will be even better the next time we all visit! We can't wait!

My mom and dad's rental house in Weatherford. It's really cute!

The Ranch House

My dad designed the logo for Lost Creek Ranch

Uncle Brian and Aunt Margaret, the best host and hostess you could imagine!

We love card game tournaments!

A very intense game of Chicken Foot.

Cousin Jeff and his son, Jackson, enjoying the 4-wheeler

The whole family played whiffle ball one evening - it was a blast!

All the cousins minus Leslie, who had to leave
a day early

And the whole family!