Thursday, December 31, 2009

Playing in the Park with Lauren

Jolene's brother Gregg and niece Lauren came to visit from Redding, CA for a few days over New Years. Gregg spent time riding quads down on the Pismo Dunes, while Auntie Jolene hung out with Lauren enjoying the park and playing games.
Lauren liked hanging out at the park,
while auntie Jolene was entertained by her imaginative play.
New Years Eve we all joined Greg and Ranel Larsen, visiting from Placerville, around their campfire on Pismo Beach and enjoyed conversation, food and the occasional illegal firework.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Cheryl and Ivan, Jolene's parents, joined us for Christmas. Following breakfast, rather than sitting around the Christmas tree, we were drawn to the sunny and warm outdoor patio area to open our gifts.
Add ImageWe joined the Kale family for a potluck Christmas dinner hosted by our neighbors, the Burnseds.

Hayden & Carly provided a lovely after dinner violin & piano concert, after which those so inclined played table games (Pit and Taboo).
A very enjoyable Christmas day finished off with relaxation and conversation around the home fire!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Rittenbach's Christmas Visit

Jon, Gaile and the kids took the time to drive up to see us during their Christmas visit from home in Walla Walla, WA, to see family in the Loma Linda area of Southern California. It's a 4+ hour drive with Baby Julia and the boys, so we really appreciated the effort!
Since we last saw her Julia has taken to walking!
Matthew and David took us up on our offer of a backyard tent bedroom. Julia would have liked to join them, but mom and dad thought it wise to wait a few years.
After breakfast the next morning, it was off for a walk to the playground where Matthew and David tried out the teeter-totter.
Jon, Gaile, and the boys attended closely as Julia took her first slide...
and first swing on the swing set!
David got mom to give him a push on the swing!

Soon it was time for the Rittenbach family to head back to Loma Linda, to spend Christmas with Gaile's family. To break up the drive and give Case and Jon some "play time", the boys all flew the first leg of the trip in the airplane. Mom and Julia flew lower, in the SUV. Their relative speeds meant the boys had time for an air tour of Pismo Dunes, Avila Beach, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, and Morrow Bay before they buzzed down to Camarrillo Airport just in time to meet mom and Julia.

Thanks for coming to play with us. We had fun!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Walla Walla, WA Christmas week

We took a spontaneous Christmas trip to Walla Walla, WA to see family. Aunt Gail's home with flocked Christmas tree and warm fireplace was a comfortable place to spend time together.
Grandma taught Jolene her favorite game of Skip-bo and challenged her to a couple rounds!
Hanging out with Aunt Gail, spending some quality time,
while uncle Gary entertains us with stories and adventures.
At age 90, Grandma Rittenbach is energetic and ready to get out and go anytime we are!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Case's 47th Birthday!

A calm peaceful few minutes break from the computer to celebrate Case's birthday. The last 10 days or so Case has spent his free moments slaving away, digging up invoices and receipts for the IRS. Nothing like a tax audit to help celebrate the holidays. Ebenezer Scrooge (pre- his visit from Jacob Marley's ghost) is alive and well at the IRS...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Warms the House

One of my favorite things...
with holiday...
Christmas music, candles and sitting around with family and friends with something hot to drink!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Post Thanksgiving visit to Redding, CA

We divided our Thanksgiving vacation time between Sacramento and Redding. Eva's parents were visiting Gregg (Jolene's brother), Eva, Lauren and Bryce at their home in Redding, CA, but they managed to squeeze us in.
Zophia and Jonish Lyko, Case, Eva and Lauren. Eva and Lauren are toasting the tasty meal!
Thanksgiving time... it's all about the food.
We even broke out Eva's wedding china -- only the second time she's used it. (No, we didn't really break anything.)
Thanksgiving morphed into Christmas with the arrival of the Bauer family Christmas tree on Sunday afternoon, just a few minutes before we had to head home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009, Sacramento, CA

Thanksgiving is Jolene's favorite holiday. It's non-commercial (well, less-commercial, until "Black Friday" morning dawns), there's lots of good food, and the extended Bauer family always gets together and stages something of a yearly reunion. This year family came from as far as Tennessee and Maryland.
Dinner is done potluck style, with everyone bringing a contribution. We brought green beans, which Jolene prepared with mushrooms and herbs, or with caramelized almonds for those family members (well known, but to remain nameless here) who do not like mushrooms. We were cooking for 33 people, though in the end the group was a little smaller due to a flu outbreak (nothing serious, we understand).
Uncle Don, Jeff and Ivan finish dinner around the pool in Uncle Don & Aunt Gwen's back yard (our hosts this year), enjoying conversation and the warm afternoon sun.
Other family grazed and relaxed in the living room, including three of Jolene's second cousins from Tennessee and their families.
Case and Gregg finished off dinner with coffee and conversation. Apparently, both felt the need to hold support their heads (or scratch them?) at the moment the photo was taken. (Or maybe...monkey see, monkey do!)
Mom requested a family picture. Case, Jolene, Lauren, Cheryl, Ivan, Eva, Bryce and Gregg.
Lauren and Bryce requested a silly picture.
Eva, Bryce (4), Gregg and Lauren (9) Bauer.
The kids were in the mood to monkey around.
Lauren is affectionately known to her Auntie Jolene as Chicky-pooh.
After the dishes were attended to by more industrious family members, Ivan, Jolene, Gregg and Ansel felt safe to move to the kitchen area for further chatting and grazing. Cousin Ansel flew in from Maryland to join in Thanksgiving Dinner.
Cousin Amy recently relocated back to Sacramento following a three year stint in Chicago. One great day together!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Photos from an afternoon at the Bellagio, Las Vegas

The Bellagio in miniature, part of the display in the hotel's conservatory.
Jolene finds a friend.
Case finds another.
Whoever created these "Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio" did a good job of mixing real plants with fabricated trees and "brushy" fountains.
A seat in the sun.
Handsome husband.
The beautiful pool area.
Pregnant lady stopped at just about every restroom on the Las Vegas Strip. This one at the Bellagio got a rave review!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Strip, Las Vegas

Off to explore the resorts and casinos on the strip -- a multi-cultural experience for Jolene, and a glitzy reminder of farther-flung travels for Case.
Welcome to Paris, Las Vegas.
Pregnant lady has noticed her wardrobe options shrinking as time progresses, so she was happy to come across a "Gap Maternity" store! Back home on California's Central Coast, shopping is more limited, so this was an opportunity for larger selection and good deals. We pretended we were back on the real Champs-Élysées, though we were happy to do without EU prices!
Then we were off for a bite of Jolene's favorite French meal. Eating for three has definitely increased her appetite! Case's, too, though we're not sure quite how that works.
What with giving Case his chance to sleep in and being surprised by the early sunset (same time zone as home, but much further east), the day passed quickly. Our evening was filled with a tour of Venice (Las Vegas). The stroll between "Paris" and "Venice" was sure a lot shorter than the overnight we spent on the train in Europe...
Get Case near anything even faintly Italian, and he sniffs out a gelato shop!
While we sat "outside", enjoying our gelato beside the "Grand Canal" under a painted sky, a troupe of strolling musicians entertained us with selections from the opera.
We ended the day at a performance of Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Perhaps the management of the Venetian didn't notice that the story is set in Paris (or, more likely, they knew their patrons wouldn't notice). However, the masks and costumes certainly fit the Venetian theme. Good times and a great day!