Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We've Moved!

A week ago we got a 60 day notice to vacate our rental house, as the owners were moving back from Asia and want to sell it to buy a home else where. So after a panicky 24hrs I found a home a few blocks away! And thanks to a brilliant move by Fred (not) a few days later we moved! It was so crazy and hard, but being able to move in immediately is what got us in a much better home. So we did it! It will take quite awhile to get settled since we did it all in such a hurry. I made a video of it from my Nexus One.

As you can see from the video, I will no longer be bitchin' and crying about my rental home! No more mold and OPP. If those things had scared you from visiting me, now you have no excuses! Once I get settled I can sit back and enjoy it and stop worrying for a few minutes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

One Year... and Counting

It's official, we survived our first year in Silicon Valley! At the one year mark we packed up the family and headed to Denver. I was really afraid the visit would be bittersweet, but it wasn't. Every night was filled with friendship, fun and laughter! My friends in Denver are life long friends and no matter where we live we will make time for you all.

I know most of the country is struggling with extra cold weather, but the weather is great here. The kids usually don't need a jacket except in the morning. Sometimes we have fog, but it burns off. Walking in the hills near the house it is cooler, sometimes even frozen mud puddles. The kids really enjoyed the snow in Denver, but I think they got their fill. We are heading up to Big Bear soon and will check out the skiing and snow California style!

I have a few other projects going on and have started a blog about the Android phone. I received the new Google Phone, Nexus One, for Christmas thanks to Fred's new project at work. As you know, if you know me at all, I LOVED my iPhone. But its gone, long gone now. So I will be reviewing Android Apps for Moms, family and kids on my new blog Mommy Has an Android Now. Its a bit on the bleeding edge, since these phones aren't known at all in the Stay At Home Mom crowd. But I have a feeling they will be! These phones are more like a mini computer and completely integrated with other Google products (gmail, Google Calendar, Lattitude, Picasa, Google Voice, Youtube, etc.) which I use. If you have an Android phone, I would love for you to follow the blog and give me your input!

I also have been blogging about a new Low Sugar plan that I have been doing with Jorge Cruise. If you are interested, let me know and I'll send you a link to it. Don't read this blog unless you want to know the ugly details about me (ie. how much I weigh... you REALLY don't want to know that!). I have struggled with my weight ever since my first pregnancy and I feel like I have found great answers with this program. I have lost 27lbs during my 12 Week program, and still have more to go. Turns out this is the way Fred eats and really how I see Europeans eat and it makes so much since. I write this blog semi-anonymously, since I don't want people to know I'm fat... and yes I get the humor in that! If you are looking to lose weight or lower your sugar intake in the New Year I highly recommend Jorge's new book The Belly Fat Cure.

Of course I still have the boy's Mystery Toy Blog too. So if you don't see me doing much here, you know where I am at a least! Blogging is a way to exercise the writing muscle and I really enjoy it. I had a few blogs published last year in bigger venues, but I didn't get much pleasure from that. So I decided to write only about the things I am excited about: My kids, my new diet and my new phone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas in California

The boys love Christmas! Skyler has a little Santa outfit he wears daily and you have to make him take it off for bedtime. It is a Lego Christmas for us, that is pretty much all the boys want. That, new pajamas and a little Batman and Star Wars thrown in to even things out. I want tickets to see John Mayer and Fred just got a new cell phone, so he is set.

Here Skyler plays Santa and shows you a book they got recently that they think is the BEST BOOK EVER for Lego lovers! (He fell at school and had a big scratch across his face for a week, but he is mostly healed now)

The weather was really beautiful until this week. In fact we went to the beach to take our Christmas photo and it was one of the most beautiful beach days we have had! You can see some of the photos above. But the clouds and fog have moved in. We had some drizzling rain and pulled out our warmer clothes. I really need get myself and the kids proper rain coats and umbrellas before it gets really rainy. We walk to school and it can be really unpleasant without the right clothes! The kids still eat their lunch outside at school, unless its really raining.

Fred had his One Year Anniversary at work. He still loves it and has an opportunity to do something a little different the next few months. He will be "On Loan" Andriod group. Andriod is Google's Mobile Platform, or for non-geeks their cell phone software. It's a big deal right now, and will be a very big deal shortly. It gives him a chance to be much more technical that has in a while, but be able to keep the great job he has. If you wonder what he does for "work" here is a little sample... dubbed in Russian.

We will be spending the week between Christmas and New Years in Denver. The kids are really looking forward to that, seeing friends, snow and familiar things. We are looking forward to it too, but it feels a little bit bittersweet.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Super Secret Spies and Agents

Last weekend Archer turned 8yrs old and we threw a Super Secret Spies and Agents Party at a local park. The kids were divided into teams and each assigned a job. There was a Leader, Decoder, Radioman, Pack Mule, Recon, etc. They were given a list of clues and there were envelopes with puzzle pieces or bombs hidden all over the park. When they were done they put together a puzzle that lead them to a "Bomb" pinata.

The kids were the perfect age for this! The day was beautiful and the park was great. They ran from one place to another, reporting in on walkie talkies.

We made the Bomb Piñata out of paper mache, our first time to do that and it was a fun family project. The cake was lots of fun! I used a ball cake form to make a bomb that looked just like the piñata, and placed it on top of a sheet cake. They each made a Top Secret Access badge, were fingerprinted and came up with their secret agent name. We put together Spy Supply Kits with sun glasses, squirt guns, magnifying glass, compass ring, pad and pencil and secret decoder. We drew on on mustaches and dressed them in a hat and trench coat for a photo for the Thank You card. It was so nice and normal to have a park full of friends and playmates!

This week also marks one year from the day that Fred and I came to Silicon Valley and found our house and school. Fred even had his 1yr Anniversary at work. Everything is going fine with both renting out our home and renting this one. Time has just flown by and we have really settled in here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Fair Trade

We love Halloween! But I really don't like all the Halloween candy. The kids hit the jackpot this year and got tons of full sized candy bars and all their favorites. We didnt do as many houses as we do in Denver, but there was no junk.

I am on a very low sugar diet (more about that later) and haven't been tempted by their candy this year. So it doesn't bother me at all. But its just too much! Archer already threw out dozens of candy bars that didn't meet his high standards. Skyler traded everything with peanuts in it (he claims he is allergic) with Archer. Archer has one piece a day, maybe two. If Skyler is left alone and quiet for a few minutes, I can usually find him in a corner unpeeling wrappers and stuffing them in his mouth. He looks up at me with that grin and says "What?"

I think the whole Candy Witch or Great Pumpkin idea is over the top. Put out your candy and its replaced with a toy. My kids have enough toys and a birthday is just around the corner.

I read the blog of women who is renovating a second home in France (okay... I stalk her) and she had this brilliant idea to trade the candy for coupons. The coupon ideas were so sweet and family oriented I decided to do this myself! I used a few of her ideas and the rest my own. They are things that the kids love, but we never do enough of. I made most be a 5 candy trade and a couple 10 candy.

Our Coupons are:
Stay Up Late 30 Minutes
1 Hot Chocolate
In n Out For Dinner
Trip to the Yogurt Shop
Hot Tub Afternoon
Daddy Cleans the Playroom
1 Lunchables for School Lunch
Family Game Night

When I told the boys we would be doing this in the morning they were so excited! I was thinking through the ideas as I told them, and when I got to "Daddy will clean the playroom" they went crazy!! "Daddy!?!" Mind you, Daddy is in Moscow at the moment and has no idea of this plan. So I knew it was a hit and I'd get all their candy in the end. Hahaha!

I just thought this was a great way to spend quality time together and thought I would share with you all. I have to say, later tonight on the monitor I heard them plotting to give me only "bad candy" or try and trade empty wrappers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Visit from Grandma Omi and Halloween

Fred's Mom came and paid us a visit in October! She is really good about coming each year, usually in the Fall. I have to say, I think she really enjoyed the California weather and our locale. We showed her all our new haunts including San Fransisco (The Cable Cars, China Town, Union Square, Golden Gate Bridge), Half Moon Bay and Sam's Chowder House, the Beach, Rancho San Antonio and the Farm and of course the nearest mall! We had a great time with her, and the kids loved having her here with us.

The weather is truly beautiful right now! Its in the high 70s during the day, and feels like the middle of summer. But at night it cools off a bit. Its great! I have started really taking advantage of a great park we have nearby and do a few big hikes there each week. It has been great to get out by myself for a few hours and sweat

If you know me well, you know we did lots for Halloween. I have more Halloween decorations than I have for Christmas I discovered in the move! We didn't have a party, mainly because I don't know how to have a party in a small house with lots of kids around. Adults fine, but running kids? We had a fun time at Googleween, went to a friends Halloween party, a parade and party at school and then the actual Trick or Treating. Someone in our 'hood set up a large screen in the their front yard and played The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown all night. The streets were filled with kids running around with no parents in sight, and everyone seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing. Fred and I were very uptight, and Fred even lost Skyler at one point. Seriously! It is really dark here and there aren't street lights. We were a large group of kids with just five or so parents watching them all. We put glow bracelets on them so we could keep track of them, but Skyler bit through his and had glow stuff smeared on his face for awhile. Until he got lost... but anyways we found him. They got lots of full sized candy bars and even went to a slumber party afterwards.

At Googleween the whole family dressed up as People Who Live in Bruce Wayne's House, plus a Witch! Unfortunately the other Googlers weren't in the holiday spirit so we were pretty much the only parents dressed up... except for the MerMale (or maybe he was King Triton). Word on the street was that Googlers take Halloween very seriously, but apparently they save that for the Adult Only party on Friday. No kids invited. In 2007

That counts two years in a row I've gotten my Dutch Mother in Law to dress in a costume! She's a good sport! She had always wanted to try a Carmel Apple, and they had hundreds of them at this party!

It is strange. It was a year ago Halloween that we decide this move would happen. We were on a beach in Florida for Fall Break when we found out and then told friends Halloween day. We have lived in California for 10 months now, and I have to say, it is starting to feel like home. We have started to look at homes for sale here and are *thinking* that when the lease is up in Lone Tree we may sell it. We can't really buy here still owning that house. That is hard for me to say, but it is true.

Fred is gone for the first 3 weeks of November, Prague, Moscow and LA. I am extremely proud of him and he is doing exactly what he hoped he would be doing. And doing it well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Real Fall and Book Club

As Fall begins the boys are settled into school and Fred is getting ready for extensive travel in Eastern Europe. I love that fact that I'm experiencing Fall for the first time in many, many years. Dont get me wrong, I love Denver. I mean, I love love Denver. But in my opinion Denver has two seasons, Winter and Summer. They are great seasons, and Winter is not anything like people think and neither is Summer for that matter. But thats TWO SEASONS. I want to see the leaves turn and fall for more than a weekend. I want hot days and cool nights for a month, not 80 degrees then snow the next day and 80 again the next! I want a Fall. And I have one now...

I started my own little Book Club here with Mom's I met at school. I dont know why I say "Moms" instead of just "Women", but they are indeed all Moms. Skyler asked "Who is coming to Book Club?". I started saying "Tom's Mom, Cory's Mom, ..." and he says "Wait, are only Moms invited?" I guess I only know Moms right now.

In case you dont have a Book Club, its not all about the Book actually. It is an excuse to get together, chat, drink wine and have a common topic of conversation, in case there are any lulls. Sounds like a bunch of Stay at Home Moms sitting around eating Bon Bons, right? Wrong! As a Mom you hardly ever have activity that is about you or make time for yourself.

When it is your turn, you pick the book that everyone reads and you host everyone at your house one evening. Most libraries have Book Club Kits where you can reserve a bag that consists of 12 of the same books and a book club Q&A with the author and additional information about the book and author. I choose the Book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a great book!

I made Tiramisu (yes me, not Fred), chocolate covered strawberries and had lots of cheeses. (If you've been to a party at my house, its my standard party fare!) Fred took the kids and Grandma out to dinner and the mall and brought them home right before bedtime, so we had the house to ourselves. I knew it was a successful when I went to kiss the boys goodnight and Archer said "Why is everyone laughing so loud, Book Club is supposed to be serious!" That's a good sign!

Of course El Goog is doing something special for Halloween. And of course its called Googleween. They have a whole party just for kids and family, so Ill have photos and a blog dedicated to that next week. Right now the boys are going to be Batman and Robin for Halloween, but there is still time for them to change their minds and they 3 parties, plus actual Halloween to wear the costumes too! So wish me luck!