Tag Archives: Events

Fathers and Sons Camp Out

Nearly every year (except for the time we had wildfires on the hillside) our Stake (large church congregation) plans a camp out to commemorate the Restoration of the Priesthood. It’s an opportunity for fathers and sons (of varying ages) to come together for good food (they usually have tri-tip) and bonding by the campfire. Warren loves it and looks forward to it every year.

They head up to camp around 4:30PM on Friday and return home around 11:30AM the next day. Jake and Joey are too little still (Colin is thinking 3 might be a good age, as to ensure they wouldn’t dive head first into said campfire), so it was just Colin and Warren this time. They took their mountain bikes up for a morning outing.

Many good friends from our Ward (unit of the Stake church congregation) attended as well. Everyone had a good time, especially the little boys who collected feathers and broken clay pigeon pieces to bury as treasure.

They came home dirty and tired. Just as it should be after a good camp out.

Baby Blessings

Once all legal aspects of the adoption were complete, we were finally able to have Colin give Jake and Joey a baby blessing, something that normally happens before a baby is even 6 months old. This ordinance allows the child to be counted on the records of the church (thought not officially a member until baptized at age eight) and also gives the father or other special Priesthood holder the opportunity to bestow a blessing of counsel and guidance for the child’s life. Sort of a glimpse into God’s gifts and intentions for that particular child.

Jake and Joey were nearly 19 months by the time Colin laid his hands on their heads, one at a time. Because they were so much older, he already had insights into their personalities. The blessings he pronounced upon them were therefore quite special, as we could already see some of the things he felt impressed to say coming to pass.

Maddie, too, was older when she received her baby blessing and though I’m not necessarily advocating for waiting so long, both experiences have been special. But, then again, so was Warren’s.

I’m just grateful that Colin is a man who takes the responsibilities of holding the Priesthood seriously and uses it to bless our family. I love being able to witness this good father work with God to help our children grow spiritually, right from the beginning.

Double Birthday Bash

While our good friends were here visiting, we held a small birthday party for the two seven-year-olds, Warren and Mason. They are exactly 20 days apart, Mason being older. They’ve known each other since birth but have never had the opportunity to celebrate together. It was time we rectified that.

I made a vanilla Batman-themed caked with yellow cream cheese frosting. I cheated a bit both with the cake (used Trader Joe’s mix) and the Batman symbol. Tami did an excellent job of cutting the thing out of black construction paper. No one seemed to mind too much.

The dads wrapped the gifts and added their own drawings to the plain paper bags.

Both boys were sung to and blew out candles.

Then we dug into the cake, even after eating a ton of cinnamon rolls that morning.

And they each opened a super hero Lego set.

It was a good party.

Happy Birthday, Warren and Mason! You’re sure growing up fast. It seems like only yesterday you were little babies. Wish we could celebrate like this together every year…

On Adoption Day

This was a long-awaited day for our family and finally, finally it was here. We drove to the courthouse in Santa Barbara where we’d state for the record that we loved Jake and Joe with all our hearts and wanted them in our family forever. There we met our county case worker and Angels social workers. Grandma Tuki and Aunt Melissa got to join us as well.

We waited in the courtroom for a few minutes but then were escorted to the judge’s chambers. A little less formal than with Maddie’s adoption.

The judge made some remarks and then asked us to raise our hands to swear that we would tell the truth. Would we care for these boys for the rest of our lives? Oh, yes. And then some.

Then he asked for Jake and Joey to raise their hands. They were not as willing to comply, especially Joey, but I’m sure they were just as truthful.

He handed us the Adoption Order documents to sign and then it was official. They were legally part of our family. To be treated as if they were born to us with all legal rights and privileges. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just like on Maddie’s adoption day, the judge handed out stuffed animals to each child. All four kids walked away with teddy bears in t-shirts. They were all quite satisfied.

And then it was over. Just like that. In 20 minutes time, the State of California recognized what we already knew: We were a family.

These precious boys, Jake and Joey. We loved you from the minute you entered our home, your tiny bodies swaddled in little blankets, sleepy-eyed and so helpless. We prayed that you would stay with us forever. Our prayers were answered.

It feels good to be complete.


Thank you to all who’ve helped us survive the unknowns and the waiting over the last year and a half. We were strengthened because of your support and prayers. And many thanks to Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara for helping us grow our family. We are forever grateful! And lastly, thanks to Jennifer for taking these pictures so that we have a visual record of this important day!

Thirteen Years

After 13 years of marriage, most of our wedding gifts have that well-worn look to them. Our lime green and cobalt blue bathroom towels are starting to fray at the edges. The duvet cover my thoughtful mother-in-law sewed for us is not as white as it used to be. The majority of the dishes we so eagerly picked out from Target are chipped and hard water-stained. But I don’t mind.

It means we’ve lived. It means we’ve packed and repacked them together as we’ve moved from city to city, starting new adventures. It means we’ve laughed while cleaning them and forgot to mind the hardness of the ceramic sink upon contact. It means we’ve allowed our children to begin learning the value of work by loading them in our lousy, ineffective dishwasher.

I looked at one of these dessert plates the other day and thought of all the chocolate chip cookies we’ve enjoyed together over the years and smiled. We could replace the dishes, I know. It’s probably time. But I love the tangible reminder that we’ve spent years together. And we have so many more to go.

Happy anniversary, Colin. It just keeps getting better, chipped dishes and all.

Warren’s 7th Birthday

I don’t really know how this happened, but my baby is seven. He is in every way, shape, and form a big kid. I can’t believe all the ways he’s grown and changed, even in this last year. He’s a helper and a great blessing to our family. And he’s hilarious. I’m so glad to know this funny, smart, creative, loving boy.

We had to celebrate big so we went bowling. Grandma Tuki and Aunt Melissa were in town for our spring break so they accompanied us to Zodo’s for a rousing game and some bowling alley food.

Warren requested a star cake with some confetti-like designs. Here is my masterpiece, created in one hour between taking Maddie to her cardiology appointment in Santa Barbara and rushing back to Solvang where we spent the week with Tuki and Melissa (more on those adventures in subsequent posts).

My 5-point star looks more like a star fish, but since we live on the coast I’m letting that sea creature influence work for me. He asked for a lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. Good stuff.

We bowled a slow but fun game. Like last time, Maddie didn’t want to participate at first and Jake and Joe wanted to head down the lanes on their own. It was nice to have some extra sets of hands to help out.

Warren got the first strike of the game. He could have won the whole thing, but Colin came through in the clutch to steal it away from the birthday boy. Again, considering our group skill level that’s not saying much.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to Warren,

Then had him open his present from Grandma. His very own digital camera. He was thrilled.

Happy Birthday, Renny! What a great day celebrating the wonderful kid you are!

Colin’s Cursed Birthday

It’s official. There’s no doubt now. Colin’s birthday is officially cursed. For the past 4 years, at least one person (and oftentimes it’s been Colin) has been sick on his birthday. The range of illnesses has been wide, but some sort of plague has hit our household just in time for the celebrations.

Warren was sick all last week and his asthma kicked in, but he started recovering and we hoped for the best. Then Maddie got a fever on Friday. Luckily, we were able to get in touch with her doctor before the end of the day, plus Warren’s bout with the virus indicated that she was headed down the same path, so no need for the emergency room testing.

But by Sunday, and Colin’s birthday, she was still feverish and hacking away. We started to get worried. Jake also woke up with a runny nose and a slight fever. It was settled. We’d all stay home from church and try to recuperate from the sickness that was spreading through the family.

I felt I owed Colin something big and tasty to compensate for all he’s done over the last few weeks, plus I was hoping to take the edge off the curse, so I made him a tasty dinner of salmon, broiled green beans and cherry tomatoes, and wild rice, plus a carrot cake with citrus cream cheese frosting. That was the highlight of the day, besides the Seattle Sounders FC “3rd Jersey” I got for him (purchased in January, so not to be counted in the Spending Fast).

Just as we were winding up the evening, and all kids had been tucked in bed, we heard serious coughing from Maddie’s room. It sounded really, really bad. We went in to help her cough/puke into the bowl we’d been keeping by her bed. When we checked the contents of the recent spew, we saw blood. Colin and I looked at each other. Could we take the chance that she hadn’t progressed to pneumonia? On Birthday Curse Day, you couldn’t be too sure. So, my dear, sweet, wonderful Colin gathered up the necessaries and Maddie and drove off to the ER at 9:45PM on Sunday night. He was just trying to beat my last birthday celebration.

Long story short, Maddie’s x-ray came back clear. Instead, they diagnosed her with croup. Sad and uncomfortable, but less worrisome than having a pneumonia.

*Big sigh*

Hopefully, she’ll recover soon and Jake’s turn will come and go quickly. Is there any chance that this virus will pass Joey over? To dream…

Happy Birthday, Colin! Someday this curse will end. It just has to!

Cookie Exchange

Invitation designed by Punchbowl

Christmas is a time to eat. And what better way to celebrate the season of endless goodies than by hosting a cookie exchange– my first ever.

For some sad reason I did not take one single picture of this wonderful event, but rest assured I had a good time.

It was quite the cookie feast! Each gal who attended brought 2 dozen freshly baked cookies that were absolutely delectable. Chocolate, chocolate mint, lemon, raspberry, caramel and chocolate… What a spread! We sampled some there and took some home for later. I compiled the recipes into one collection that you can see here, if you’re looking for some tasty cookie ideas.

To make sure we had more to eat than just sugar, I served veggies and hummus, mini quiches (from Costco), herbed goat cheese and crackers, wassail, hot chocolate (that turned into pudding because I forgot to turn the crockpot to low!), and the recipe find of the year: Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip and crackers. Please trust me, you must try this. I know this post is about cookies, but no one should go without trying this dip!

I wanted to have something for the many young children that would accompany their mamas to this event, so I put a table outside with flat gingerbread cookie houses, like this one, that they could decorate with cream cheese frosting (made by my friend, Rebecca, at the last minute as I was scrounging to finish setting up before the party started) and tons of candies. I’m pretty sure that most of the kids just licked the frosting and candies off the cookie, but I think they walked away satisfied.

My goal was to spread Christmas cheer and gorge on eat as many tasty cookies as possible. Mission accomplished, as far as I’m concerned. I loved spending time with friends as we munched on all the fine food the party had to offer.

I think I’ve found a new Christmas tradition.

Maddie Turns Three!

Our baby girl is becoming a big girl right before our eyes! Maddie turned three and we had a great time celebrating her special day with her.

Warren started the day out with a homemade present (items he recycled from his own collection) and birthday banner that he hung up on the wall. He also asked his 1st grade class to sign a card for her. His teacher is so accommodating like that.

In the evening we had a small birthday gathering since it wasn’t a “friend party” year. We asked our good friends, Gina and Shawn, and their kids to come over for pizza and cake. Their daughters, Sacha and Arya, are Maddie’s best girl friends.

The cake had to be pink, but since she didn’t have any particular design in mind I went the easy way out and just did lemon cake with raspberry frosting. It was pretty tasty, I must say.

Maddie got some fun presents this year. Hand made hair bows from Gina, books from Colin and me (including “Everyone Poops” which was very well received, as you can imagine), and from Grandma Tuki a UW Husky cheerleader outfit, complete with silver pom poms. Too much!

It was a great evening and she was a happy girl.

Maddie, you are a delight to have in our family. You are so good to your little brothers and have become a better playmate to your older brother. Your nurturing skills are shining through more and more each day. You are a great helper when you want to be. The strong-willed, independent, tenacious, and feisty aspects of your personality that sometimes aggravate us are also strengths that will serve you well some day. You are so tough and have endured so much in your young life. We can’t help but admire your fighting spirit and ability to push through the bad times. You are our precious angel girl and we could not imagine life without you. Happy Birthday, Mariquita!

Christmas Walk

Like last year, we went to La Arcada to wander through the Christmas Walk. But unlike last year, I didn’t spend the whole time taking pictures. I only snapped a few, not very good ones either, but somehow they disappeared. Luckily, it looked much like it did the year before, so the 2010 post will suffice for imagery.

This year’s trip was short. It was a chilly night and very windy, so we quickly made our way through the throng of people to pick up our free popcorn, candy canes, hot chocolate, and tamales. The last one sounds random, but it was the sample item offered by this year’s sponsoring restaurant and they were good. A true Santa Barbara style Christmas treat.

Again, we did not wait in line to see Santa on State Street. The line was too ridiculously long for our almost-ready-for-bedtime-children to handle. Instead, we walked past and waved hello from the sidewalk.

Despite the crowded nature of this event, we enjoy getting in the Christmas Spirit by attending. I actually like the hustle and bustle of it all. The fun of window shopping past brightly lit stores in beautiful decor without giving into the commercialism of needing to buy it all. The live caroling and jazz ensembles playing Christmas music, lovely decorations, and festive shops remind us that the Christmas season has arrived.