Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear Friends

Well. isn't this what Christmas is all us all an opportunity to get together?  Lauren, and the rest of us, enjoyed some time with Claire who grew up with Lauren and lives 2 houses away from us. She had just returned from spending Christmas in England with her grandparents (and experienced some nightmare airplane travel) and we dragged her along on a venture to "The Counter" in Walnut Creek. Kevin joined us since he lives there (and since he knows his Mom and Dad love to see him)

Dave is surprised at how much hamburgers can cost :)  Have you ever been to the Counter???  They either count calories or dollars ...not sure which!

And we had a very special visit with Boomp...just a few weeks away from turning 98.  He continues to amaze us!  I remember when he and Ging took care of a young, newlywed Navy wife, whose husband and parents were far away.

Love you, Boomp - enjoy the Baileys!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Night Of Guesstures...

It was a close call, having us five all together again this year on Christmas Day, because we weren't sure Drew could get the time off.  I know it's going to happen one day but I'm happy to put it off for sometime in the future.  We got lucky again this year and I am so grateful to Drew for making that long drive home for just one day.  We missed seeing our "other" Lauren (we have two, you know) on Christmas Day but she gave us our present on Christmas Eve.  

Hey Lauren S.   ;)  Thank You

A few years ago, Kevin started referring to me as "little mommy" ...everyone else had become so tall! 

Here is the Los Angeles contingent:    Drew and Giovanna 
Giovanna brought us some Klinker Brick which we love and....a bottle of Gino's 2006 Merlot made by her Dad.  It is excellent - we enjoyed Gino's vino once before during a lovely sunset at the lake.  It was such a lovely combination that I think we will wait for another special sunset on the Stanislaus River to open this one.

As for the fun part of the evening...Doug H. got "iced".  For those of you who don't know what "icing"'s basically a repetitive joke we all play on one another...(Kevin started it and now, I'm sure regrets it).  Somehow we manage to fall for it every time!!  This time they got Doug H.

Now here's the REAL fun:  our annual Christmas game of Guesstures. We love it.  Lauren started playing when she was about 4 -5 years old and she managed to do it even at that age.  We also remember Christmases past when Grandma Bayly came out to visit and played with us.  It's very similar to Charades and we have had many hilarious and memorable times playing.  Here's Lauren acting out something.  Lauren asked for her own game of Guesstures for Christmas a couple of years ago and Dave looked all over the planet for it and finally found one - he's a good hunter! Give him something to look for and he'll find it.  (He used to hunt enemy submarines, but that was a loooong time ago).  I think the game of Guesstures was harder to find than a sub!

Our dear, dear, dear, dear friends....Ryan, Michele, Kelly and Doug.  Drew and Ryan were in Village Pre-School together, Oak Street School, Saratoga High and...beyond.  Ryan is an engineer designing a device for the heart which is being used in several countries (including the US) in clinical trials...and to think I knew him when he was 3 years old.
Ya never know...!!
Kelly works for that little compnay that Bill Gates started...and she used to babysit for Lauren - although I  don't think Kelly has too many fond memories of that.  Lauren wan't the easiest client.

We love you guys!  Thank you for another memorable Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Finally....the tree is done!  Except it's Christmas Eve and Kevin has yet to put on his ornaments and Drew is still somewhere on I-5, about 2 hours from home.

We were sooo lucky finding this tree - it was the first  one we saw on the first lot we went to.  Seriously.  How often does that happen...never?  We waited until the 16th to even go looking for one and, it turns out, everyone else beat us to it and this big boy was sitting there unloved and unwanted. So...we got a really good deal on it...(which will further encourage us to wait even longer next year!)  We've been getting a little bit lazier about putting up our tree because we don't have little kids around anymore.  Maybe we'll downsize next year because, now that it's just Dave and me, these big trees are getting harder and harder to get in the house.  This year we waited until Lauren arrived home and it took three of us to get it inside.  It's actually a pretty funny process, if anyone were watching us do it. 

And here, of course, is the reason for everything...
Grandma and Grandpa Connolly's creche - the one I grew up "playing house" with as a kid.  Let's just say it's been loved for more than 50 years.

The table is all set and we're looking forward to seeing Doug, Michele, Ryan and Kelly for dinner tomorrow and playing our annual game of's probably going  on fifteen years that we've been playing that game on Christmas Day and it's always hilarious.

That's what it's all about.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

T'was The Night In San Francisco

You can see why they call it "Fog City"
Golden Gate Bridge

In between all the bustle of gift wrapping and shopping we decided to take off for a drive through San Francisco yesterday for dinner and some window shopping in Union Square.  Kevin's Lauren works in the City so they joined us and we had a scrumptious dinner in the Italian section of North Beach.  
We're on Treasure Island here with San Francisco in the background....the Transamerica Pyramid Building, Coit Tower and The Embarcadero are behind us, on the other side of the San Francisco Bay.  Dave took our photo and whisked us around town...

On the Bay Bridge (the one that collapsed in the '89 quake....ooops)

Rush hour- it was awful!!!

Moscone Center where Lauren did some Trade Shows last summer.

This is where we drool...uh, window Union Square, the big shopping area in the center of the City.

The Union Square Christmas Tree.  You can't see it from this shot but there's a skating rink off to the right.

The 3-story Christmas Tree in the window of Neiman Marcus (another place to drool) I'm on the second floor here.

This tree is amazing!  I had only seen it from the outside in past years but this time Dave parked and waited for us so we could go inside and really appreciate it.

Looking down to the first floor

Second floor, with Union Square in the background
Oh.. the shoes!! Here we see Lauren holding the down-payment on a house right in her hands.  I can't even go there.  It was crazy. Stupid crazy.
They'll be in Sheik Shoes next week...

Cable cars in the background.  They're used for commuting too and considering how bad the traffic was, I can see why.

Just a random tree...beautifully decorated in the Financial  District
At this point, we finally got out of the car!  We're walking around Columbus Avenue in North Beach, looking for a place to eat.

We settled on an amazing little place called Sotto Mare.  It looks like a little hole in the wall (it looks like one because it is one!)  It was recommended to us by a guy who bought our canoe from Dave on Craigslist...he lives in the city and wanted the canoe for his wife because they live on Lake Merritt (there's a lake in Oakland -a small one, but perfect for a canoe).  Dave delivered the canoe to him last week and, in return, he gave us several restaurant recommendations.  This one was voted by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the Best Damned Cioppino in San Francisco.  So, of course, the boys had to have it:

(Dave was our photographer)

See you on Christmas Eve, Drew!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December In Southern California

Giovanna sent me this picture yesterday and I loved it!  We were having a pretty overcast and chilly day at the lake, while Drew and Giovanna were obviously basking in the sun, so there's quite a bit of difference between NorCal and SoCal.

Drew said this picture was taken along Manhattan Beach.  They rode bikes from where he lives in Venice Beach all the way up the coast to Manhattan's probably about 10-15 ?? miles.  I've driven the route along Pacific Coast Highway "PCH" but I haven't done it on a bike (and I'm not likely to either!!!).  There's a concrete walkway/bike lane that goes all along the coastal beaches and tons of people come out to jog, roller-blade and bicycle or just walk (like me).  Along the way, there are lovely white sand beaches, volleyball nets and surfers/swimmers.  The pathway runs for miles....maybe 30-50 miles...I'm not sure exactly but it's a loooong route!  Angela and Greg are very familiar with it - they lived in Redondo Beach which is (I think) one or two more beaches down the route from where Drew and Giovanna are pictured. Somewhere along this route is where Drew saw our Governor, Arnold (after 6 years, I still can't remember how to spell Schwarzneggar ...whatever).  

Now, Drew isn't totally crazy about L.A. in general...but as you can see, there are some good points to it!  And...Giovanna is there!  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Memories

My favorite things at Christmas are the things that bring back Christmases past.  It's the fun part for me...getting down the boxes from the attic and pulling out the old favorites.  This little tree has the same place every year in the dining room.  We can see it when we first come into the house as long as the lights are dimmed and it's there with us at every Christmas dinner, like an old friend.  It was a hand-made present from Grandma Bayly years ago.  I know she spent at least one Christmas with us after she made it and it always makes the Season special for us. 

Another old friend over the Holidays is another one of Grandma's pieces:  
The wreath spends Christmas with us in the family room:

And...long time memories from Great Grandma Olver - a few of her Christmas Santa ornaments:
We are very careful with these things.  We try to put all of these special items in an "earthquake-safe" location.  It's just one of those things we always have in the back of our minds out here where things sometimes shake.  We've been in a few earthquakes to see how things are jolted around and I try to do the best I can so nothing happens to them, although it does concern me that nothing can be protected completely.  But then, other places have hurricanes and tornadoes.  Well, we just do our best.  These treasured items are put in places where there's a carpet underneath and not too high either.  

In the background you can see Lauren's Christmas China - as she often reminds me, it's the set that I've been "borrowing" from her for 19 years now.  When she was a baby, Santa gave her a place setting of the china for her first Christmas and every year he brought her another one (until the year I found 12 of them for sale in an antique shop at an amazing price - whoa- I couldn't pass that up and that put us ahead for quite a few years!!)  Then I was able to go out an get her some accessory pieces.  It's been a lot of fun for me and it's only in the last couple of years that she has reminded me that it's just on loan to me.  

Yeah...but whoever has the china has to make the dinner.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Official Graphic Artist Now!

Somebody we know just got a job as a Graphic Artist in San Francisco.'s not Kevin !!

Congratulations Lauren !

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Starting To Look A lot Like Christmas !

Chi Omega getting ready for Santa...or it looks like Lauren thinks she's going to be Santa this year.   Well, that would be good news for me!

She sent me another snow picture this morning...

Friday, December 3, 2010

*** Almost *** Snow...

Looks like snow to me!  I know it's a wimpy version of snow but it's as close as we're gonna get here in Pleasanton (it's not Tahoe, thank Goodness!)  It's been so cold here that we've had frost on the lawn for the past 3 mornings so I finally decided to take a picture of it.  I sent it to Lauren to show her our "snow" but then she sent me her pictures so she could straighten me out about what snow looks like in Indiana (in the middle of the day, after it's had a chance to warm up):  
"Home Sweet Home" for now...Chi Omega
And walking to class...Brrrrrr
Actually, I think Lauren secretly loves it because she texts me as soon as it snows.  
"So much snow !", she said to me.  Heck, I may be losing some of my memory but no way can I forget what those snow storms on Long Island were like as a kid (and now, of course).  Or...getting snowed-in for a week at Lake Tahoe while we were on "vacation". That was some amazing snow!  I think Lauren was too little to remember that but I am happy she is excited about her snow!