Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmastime in San Diego

We try to check out at least one of San Diego's many Christmas events each December, so on Sunday night we watched the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights for the first time.  It's a parade of decorated boats that proceeds along the entire harbor and bay area near downtown.  We got to our viewing spot on Harbor Island early, set up our camping chairs, and bundled up in winter gear and blankets.  Then we chatted with our neighbors and waited for the parade to reach us from its starting point on Shelter Island.  

 There were a ton of boats, so the parade took about an hour from start to finish.  They were all very creatively decorated, and some had theme music or Christmas music blaring from speakers.  One even had a live band onboard!  Here were just a few of our favorites:

 This group paddled an outrigger canoe the entire way!  Extra points for manual propulsion!

 A Top Gun theme.  They were blaring "Highway to the Danger Zone" as they passed by.

I don't know how they accomplished this, but they did an incredible job with the sleigh and reindeer.

The ultimate party boat.  Super loud music, people having a dance party on the bow, and strobe light effects. 

A pretty view of the parade continuing its journey towards downtown.

Later this week, we're also going to see "The Nutcracker" for the first time.  It's performed at the San Diego Civic Theater every year, and I got a great deal on center orchestra seats on Groupon. I think we'll really enjoy it. 

In other news, Dan has gotten some pretty fun "birthday presents" from his staff this year, and he's loving it!    

 One for you, one for baby. :)

These will ensure she doesn't look too much like a boy in all her Islanders gear. I see many father/daughter hockey games in our little girl's future!

Me & baby girl at 22 weeks - more than halfway to our delivery date!  I've felt great during the 2nd trimester, and I feel her kicking and moving around a ton now.  About a week ago, Dan was able to feel her kick for the first time, too! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dan's Birthday Celebration(s)

Birthdays only come once a year, so we make the most of them!  Dan's birthday was last Saturday, but we've been celebrating for at least the past week.  I signed us up for every restaurant e-mail list I can think of, so we're inundated with birthday offers each year.  It's a fun way to go out cheaply & more often that week without cooking or doing dishes afterwards. :)

One night, Dan wanted to skip dinner and go straight to Coldstone's to use his buy one get one free offer.  Ice cream for dinner and a walk on the beach. I think I heard angels singing. :)

On his actual birthday, we went to Disneyland! That night, they were beginning a Christmas concert they run from December 1-20, and we wanted to check it out.

 We stopped to pick up Dan's favorite Southern California food for lunch - the California Burrito

And when we got to Anaheim, we bought dessert at Joe's Italian Ice stand. You choose your ice flavor and they add frozen custard to the top & bottom, so it tastes like a Creamsicle.  So delicious!

Christmastime is in full swing at Disneyland. I love how festive everything looks!

And their Christmas concert was just amazing.  You had to be a VIP to get seats for the event, but they held it outdoors right on Main Street in front of the train station, so there was also standing room around the sides of the seating area.  We waited in the standing area for about an hour before the concert started so we could get a good view, and it was well worth it!  This picture doesn't really do it justice, since the stage was about twice this big and full of choirs. They hold auditions each year for local high school choirs to sing at the event, so we were surrounded by family members who had come to watch their kids sing.  They had a full orchestra and some soloists from the Disney Choir, and everything was done beautifully.

Each night, they have a celebrity narrator who reads the Christmas story from the Bible, and after he/she finishes reading each section, the choir & orchestra perform Christmas carols before the next section of the story is read.  The whole concert lasts about an hour.  Dennis Haysbert read that night, and this is as close as my camera could zoom.  He has such a great voice, it was wonderful to hear him read the best story ever.

 A much better picture. On other nights, Dick Van Dyke, Molly Ringwald, Kurt Russell, and others will be the narrators.

At 7:00, we happened to be walking in front of the castle, when they suddenly dimmed the street lights and turned everything into a winter wonderland scene.  A pleasant surprise!

 We stayed late for the fireworks show, even though it was drizzling rain the whole time.  They were supposed to have "snow" fall down on the crowds right after the fireworks were over, but it didn't work - I assume because of the rain.  We'll have to go back to see it again.  There's no other way to see snow this close to the beach! :)

On Sunday, we took advantage of a Phil's BBQ birthday offer for lunch, and then topped it off with Dan's favorite chocolate creme pie!

No cooking, hardly any dishes, and we both gained about 5 pounds.  I'd call that a successful birthday week! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's a ...

We're so excited, and can't wait for our baby girl to join our family!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Babymoon

When we found out we were expecting, it didn't take us long to decide to take one last vacation before our little one arrives.  Dan's limited to school breaks, so our only two opportunities were Thanksgiving week or Spring Break week.  Since his Spring Break falls two weeks before our due date in April and I won't be able to fly that late in pregnancy, Thanksgiving time won by default! 

We spent five and a half days last week in Maui, our favorite Hawaiian island.  It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!  Mid 80s and sunny every day - it was hard to convince ourselves it was the holiday season instead of summertime!  

We stayed at a hotel on Ka'anapali Beach. They didn't heat their swimming pool, so Dan refused to go in we opted to swim in the warmer ocean every day instead. We also rented stand-up paddleboards one morning and spent a fun hour paddling around the ocean.

A view of the lawn at our hotel with their giant checkers board. The playing pieces were coconuts that had red or black stripes painted on them.

We were just a short walk away from Black Rock, which is one of the best snorkeling spots in Maui.  We snorkeled there several times, and swam alongside sting rays, giant sea turtles, and lots of tropical fish!

One of our first nights there, we had a nice dinner at Leilani's on the Beach, then we drove to the nearby town of Lahaina to watch Warren & Annabelle's Magic Show.

 Warren is the magician who normally performs during the show, but he was away so we saw two other comedian magicians who were very talented and hilarious!  It was a fun time.  Annabelle is the resident "ghost" who plays any song you request on the piano during the dinner/cocktail hour before the show.  She *may* be in the picture with us at the piano, it's hard to tell. :)

One of my favorite spots in Maui is I'ao Valley. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, but last time we were there, the valley was nearly 100 degrees and super humid, so I didn't enjoy it very much.  It was much nicer to visit this time when it was cooler!

We enjoyed hiking around and seeing the famous I'ao Needle. 

 We also met the friendly I'ao Valley cat while we were there, but she disappeared quickly when some other visitors showed up with their dogs.

A visit to Hawaii isn't complete without a luau, but since they're expensive and can take up to four hours of your evening for the whole experience, we've found a shortcut. We know of a couple of resorts that have outdoor luaus on their lawn right by a public beach path.  So if you *happen* to be strolling by at the right time, you can see the shows. :) 
 And who can forget the delicious Hawaiian mixed plate?  Da Kitchen has the best Hawaiian food and gives you huge portions that are easy to share. 

And of course, we topped it all off with some shave ice!

We did some shopping in Lahaina and at the mall near our hotel, Whaler's Village.  Their Christmas decorations were amazing! 

We also made sure to take lots of romantic walks along the beach at sunset.

 A breathtaking view of the island on our flight back home

We're so glad we went to Maui for our babymoon!  We'd considered other places, but we really enjoyed the warm weather and getting to swim in the ocean.  It's a naturally relaxing place, but we made sure to do something fun and active every day.  It was great timing for me, pregnancy-wise, since I'm still able to enjoy most activities as long as I don't overdo it.  

In other exciting news, tomorrow evening we'll have our 19 week ultrasound and (hopefully) find out if we're having a boy or a girl!  We can't wait!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

2 + 1 =

The Jester family of three!!!!

We're excited to announce that we're expecting Baby Jester on April 21st!  We've felt all along that God has showered our marriage with blessings, and He's given us another amazing gift and reason to praise Him!   

In answer to the most common questions we've gotten:
  • I've been feeling great for the most part.  Very early on, I had a week and a half of nausea and strange food aversions, then it passed and now I'm just hungry all. the. time.  I know I'm extremely blessed in this, since I have several friends who have suffered from severe sickness during the first few months of pregnancy.
  • I've stopped running for now.  My nurse practitioner said she doesn't recommend it during pregnancy, even though there are many women who continue to run until it becomes uncomfortable for them. I still get up early during the week to ride our exercise bike, and we'll often go for a walk after dinner. This doesn't burn nearly the calories as running yet I feel the need to eat every two hours, so I managed to gain twice the recommended weight by the end of my first trimester. Exceeding expectations as usual - heh. 
  • I *may* have felt the baby move/kick a few times now.  Or it may have been gas, it's hard to say.  I'm looking forward to feeling the kicks for sure, and from what I've read it should be soon! 
  • Yes, we'll find out if we're having a boy or a girl - hopefully at our 19 week ultrasound on November 28th. Stay tuned...
  • I can't say that either of us has a strong preference about the gender, although Dan says "Lord help me" every time someone kids him about having a little princess. :)  I go back and forth on what I think it'll be, and either way we're in for a lot of fun! 
  • We haven't even started discussing baby names yet.  We figure we're better off if we wait until we know the gender so we can narrow down the list from the beginning.  There are tons of great names to choose from, and yet so many of them have been ruined by the crazy kids Dan's worked with over the years. :)
We're thrilled about this new adventure in life, and we'd really appreciate your prayers as we prepare for parenthood! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I always feel like once October hits, the holidays are here and the year is over before we know it!  It's been a busy month - here are some of the highlights.

My coworker, Fatima, and I once again convinced the men in our department to dress up for our company's Halloween costume contest.  The rule is: as long as we do all the work and buy the costumes so they just have to show up, they'll participate. Heh.

This year, we were the cast from Gilligan's Island.  Left to right: my boss Ralph (the Skipper), Doug (Gilligan), Fatima (Mary Ann), and me (Ginger). Our coordination paid off, and our group collectively won the costume contest! 

Last year, my department dressed up as the Scooby Doo gang, which was also fun.  Old cheesy TV shows make the best themes, don't you think? :)  I wore the same red wig as last year, but stuffed a folded shirt underneath it to replicate Ginger's amazing bouffant.

Dan and I have been spending plenty of time at Disneyland, which we love.  We want to make sure we visit during each holiday season, since we bought annual passes this year.  Every Halloween, they decorate the entire park and revamp the Haunted Mansion ride with characters and scenes from "The Nightmare Before Christmas".  They also add spooky visual effects to Space Mountain.

October is an especially busy month at work for Dan because of Homecoming week.  The students get to dress up for theme days and they have special events and games scattered throughout the week.  It's fun, but a lot more work for the administrators and teachers since the schedule is wacky.  The week culminates with the Homecoming football game on Friday night.

Right after crowning the Homecoming King

 Congratulating the Homecoming Queen

A beautiful sight at the end of the game - CCA won!  It's the first time they've won their Homecoming game, and they obviously blew the other team away - 58-0!  I did feel really bad for the other team, but at least it wasn't their Homecoming game!

Work has been a little unusual for me, too.  I got to participate in a management training course at my company last week.  They selected 12 participants to spend the week being trained by my company's senior management team on various aspects of our business.  It was interesting and enlightening, but there was a lot of work involved - more than any of us expected!  They had us read several books and case studies before the week began, plus there were additional readings during the week and a team presentation we gave to the senior management staff at the end of the week.  It didn't make me miss being in school at all! :)

To avoid having too many hours of lecture in a day, they also scheduled role playing and group problem solving activities.  This is one of the activities where we were given separate envelopes with mixed puzzle pieces. Without talking or making hand gestures to our teammates, we had to figure out how to assemble the puzzle pieces into 5 equally-sized squares.

 It was so hard not to communicate with each other while we figured it out, but we finally got it!

The Epsilon management training group

And finally, Dan and I got to visit with some old Denver friends this month! Brian and Carrie celebrated their 10th anniversary in San Diego, so we made a point to connect with them.
We went to dinner in Little Italy in the downtown area. It was awesome to catch up with them!

I can't believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner! I love this time of the year!