W&G Lately: 3 3/4

The boys really are on their way to age 4 and we've settled on a theme for their big party... Garbage trucks. Yay. Luckily other moms have had to suffer through garbage-obsessed kids so there are actually a lot of ideas on Pinterest and I think we can make it cute.

It's been raining so much here lately which means the boys have been home more so I feel like I've spent a lot of time with them despite them being back at school. I've left Colette with Jessica a few more times and taken the boys out and G and I even had a special outing after school one day. William was home sick a few days so I got to pick G up and we went for pizza and watch a construction site for a while. They've tentatively agreed to the plan of me taking each one of them out separately, then an outing together every few weeks but we'll see if G has a problem staying once W's turn comes up. Though they definitely have their moments, I would say their behavior has improved a bit.

We actually had a pretty healthy month up until about a week ago when W got the bad cold and cough and had to stay home a few days, then G got it (though was never bad enough that he needed to stay home) and currently Colette has it. It's the worst cold she's had -- snotty, runny nose which has now turned into a pretty rough, congested-sounding cough. She seems to be hanging in there though and I think she's starting to get better. No breathing issues as of yet. It really is so tough to keep the boys away from her and despite our efforts to wash hands, change clothes, use sanitizer, etc., she's gotten just about every cold they have.

I arranged for one of the social workers that we had worked with at the hospital to come into the boys' school to do a little demo with them using this blacklight machine and 'germ gel'. Basically they put the gel on, then looked at their hands in the machine to see all the germs. Then they went to wash as normal, and then checked again, of course to see that germs were still on. Finally, they learned the right way to wash their hands.

With the combo of the weather and being sick, our weekends have been pretty low-key. Dave was able to get away to Chip's for a night last week so I took all three to the park which was fine. Today we made it over to the Ferry Building which is still one of my favorite spots to go.

EATING: I'm feeling great about their eating! But not quite ready to write up our full plan yet. Dave and I have a few things to decide on but I finally read a book that had been recommended to me by other moms, It's Not About the Broccoli. It takes the focus on what they're getting each day or even week and instead is trying to teach them the tools for proportion, variety and moderation. We'll see how I do with it as I think for me I feel confident in the beginning and am able to take a step back and not get stressed about it, but then they go off-script with something I'm not sure how to handle and I end up nagging or stressing about it again. I'm hoping I can stick with this approach, but the few basic ideas do seem like a good approach. The boys have had a lot of fun this week with it so I'm feeling good about it so far. They've tried more things this week than they have in many recent months, and though they haven't necessarily liked any of it, I realize that's not the point. It's about continuing to expose them to different foods and over time getting them more comfortable with tasting new things, while never forcing them to try anything. I took them to the library and we got a bunch of cookbooks and fun books about food. That's been a huge hit. We also went shopping at Trader Joe's and they picked out some new stuff, and today was a visit to the Farmer's Market where they picked out a few new things. I was surprised W wasn't up for tasting more fruit, but that's okay. It's too early to know if this will really make a longterm change or not, but we've had several really great dinners this week (as far as their behavior and eating) so I'm considering it off to a good start.

W has been having issues with #2 which has turned into a cycle of not wanting to go because it hurts, but then it would hurt because he holds it so long, etc. With our food changes this week (or maybe just coincidence), things have finally improved. We switch off between prune juice, prunes or Flax oil and trying to drink more water and it seems to really have helped. G, on the otherhand, has had at least a handful of pee accidents over the past week. Bad ones where you see him bending his knee a little and then all of a sudden he's going pee down to the floor soaking his pant leg. Ugh. You'd think we'd be done with the accidents by now and he had been accident-free for a while but something's up again. We're trying to remind him more but I can tell he doesn't want to stop what he's doing so will usually say he doesn't have to go.

SLEEP: Has gotten back on track in the past few weeks, though G still has issues here and there. Over the last week, he's woken up several nights asking for a hug, or for help getting his slipper back on when it fell off. He still seems to have some issues with being scared down there, but we do our best to reassure him. Though it still varies by the night how many times we have to go down after saying goodnight, I'd still say that it's improved from a few weeks ago. As far as naps, I think we have a good mix now. We've figured out that W needs a nap every few days (but not every day) to be able to keep it together. G needs a nap I'd say twice a week. They still do quiet time but on the days they really should be sleeping, we make sure they're separated. We don't let them sleep longer than an hour, which can be hard to manage as they often wake up upset. Overall, it's the best plan as G would be up so late if he still took a nap.

PLAY: With all the time inside, they've been doing a lot of cooking and art. Garbage (much to my annoyance) continues to be popular so our cans of recycling in the living room look like they'll be staying for a bit longer. Duplos are really popular, as are the various new trucks they got for Christmas. G really loves the alphabet and number singing magnets. We've had a train track set up for the last few days that they've traded their book before bed in for which is funny because they haven't played with trains in forever. They still love their scooters but we've had to get stricter with the rules. They just go so far now that it's not safe for them to be riding past people on busy sidewalks. I'm confident in their abilities and general judgment not to hit people, but it's not fair to people walking on a sidewalk to try to dodge them when they don't know exactly where they're going.

To my boys... We spent so much time together over the holidays, but I think everyone (okay, maybe just me) was ready to get back into the school routine. You seem to do fine once there, but do have a hard time getting out of the car in the morning. You're always so excited for the weekends, but of course, that's when Dad is home. I'm glad I've been able to do what I was hoping to, which is to spend more time with just you guys, whether individually or together. We're in a good spot with Colette now where it is easier for me to tell Jessica, 'why don't you stay with her and I'll take the boys out for a bit'. Speaking of Colette, you both are still all over her. It's amazing, you used to always have to go in to wake Dad in the morning, but now you come out and see Cokes having her bottle and you come right out and forget about Dad! She has definitely moved into the #1 spot around these parts in your eyes. She's just starting to get into your stuff so can't wait to see how you handle that in coming months.

Taking all three to the aquarium on my own. Had a great time!
W&G notes:
  • We came back to our car just as the meter maid was giving a ticket, but I knew we still had a few minutes. It was a fix-it ticket for no front license plate and you guys had a million questions about it.
  • You saw hail for the first time

George. You are such a sweet brother to Colette. Constantly telling her how much you love her and that she's your best friend. I'm still pleasantly surprised with how well you've adjusted to her being home, but you have had issues lately with the potty and sleeping so maybe her being around has affected you. You're generally very sweet with her but occasionally will do something like sit on her and just not realize your strength or weight. You are always asking questions, and really good ones. I love to hear your train of thought and your stories. We got to go out just the two of us and it was so fun to just be with you and hear everything you had to say. Looking forward to lots more of those dates!

G notes:
  • You often answer, 'well that's why...'
  • When I asked you if you missed W at school (when he was home sick), you said, 'No, it was nice having a break.' Then you told him, 'William, can you play with me only most of the time and not all of the time?' 
  • After learning that scuba divers can pick up trash from the ocean, you decided that would be your weekend job and you'd still do your garbage pick up on Tuesdays.
  • You asked me when I was getting more shoes and I asked why and you said, 'I need more garbage' (as in paper and boxes for his garbage play).
  • You're very interested in the food books we got at the library including the 3 sections of 'growing food', 'fun food' and 'treat food'. When you went poop, you explained to me that the growing food stays in your body and the fun and treat food comes out in your poop.

William. You had a bad cold last week and you will definitely grow up to be one of those guys who gets 'manflu'. So dramatic: 'booger! booger! I need a wipe!!!!' This attitude you get sometimes really makes me worried for the teenage years. If you're rested and fed, usually you're in pretty good shape. You're still into art and can sit down and focus on a project for a while. You're still so sweet and kind and generous, though you do like to play with G sometimes -- you've figured out just how to annoy him and you get a momentary kick out of it but within a minute are giving in. You're a great big brother to Colette and can always make her smile.

W notes:
  • You threw a massive fit because I refused to buy you a (rock-solid, obviously-out-of-season) $5 peach
  • You start everything with, 'well that's because...' 
  • On your first day back to school after being sick, you had a huge fit because you wanted G to stay home so you'd have a day on your own. We settled on letting him get out and go all the way in and then you got to go in by yourself.
  • You want to see the witch in Wizard of Oz so bad (Dad has only let you watch some of the songs)
  • You were obsessed with the shark exhibit at the aquarium. You loved watching the footage of the sharks, even the one of a shark getting a seal.
  • You love fairy tales and lots of your pretend play includes characters that show up in these stories.
  • You tell us about how you'll live in the white house across the street and one night after we had a taco dinner you liked, you said that we could come over to your white house for tacos, but we'd have to bring the food.

Colette: 8 Months Old

8 Months Old
(6.5 months adjusted)
  • She's increased her feeds and is steady at 32.5oz/day of full-fat breast milk. One bottle is fortified with Monogen and Vitamin D. I still can't get over how easy feeding her a bottle is now after several tough months of her being so finicky. 
  • She’s making progress on solids and has been cleared to eat anything developmentally appropriate. Her latest favs are baguette and strawberries. She does okay with spoon feeding, but also likes to feed herself… not much gets in though!
  • New foods this month: barley, carrots (including steamed whole carrots), green beans, zucchini, blueberries, strawberries, avocado, chicken, eggs, pancakes, Greek yogurt, prunes, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli.
  • She still uses her steroid inhaler twice a day but I’m going to check at her next pulmonary appt to see if that’s still necessary. Our appts have been spread out to every few months.
  • Getting up multiple times a night to replace the pacifier was getting a bit old, so since our neighbors are gone for the month, I decided to see how she’d do without it and do a little sleep training. She’s actually done great and is officially paci-free! We still give her the little kitty that she likes to hold. She’s adjusted pretty well to falling asleep without the paci but we’re still working on extending her afternoon nap without it as she keeps waking up after 45 minutes when she should be sleeping for about 2 hours at this time. She’s slept through the night much better without it. Unfortunately she wakes up earlier, around 6, and that’s the hardest time to keep her calm without the paci since she has to wait for her bottle to warm up.
  • I've moved back into the master bedroom! I started the New Year back in the room and while I had to go back in for the paci, I think returning was a bit overdue. She hasn't been waking up at night to eat for a while, and though I think I'm naturally a bit more protective over her than I would normally be, she hasn't shown any signs that would give me reason to continue sleeping in with her.
  • Colette’s crawling much further. She’s really engaged in toys, including her brothers’ stuff and when motivated (especially by an iphone), she’ll crawl across the room! She likes doing plank and going up on her hands and knees but her ‘crawl’ is still pretty funny. My friend said, ‘she’s doing the worm!’. She’s not quite at the stage where I put her down and turn around a minute later and she could be anywhere… but soon I’m sure. 
  • She’s sitting up unassisted pretty solidly now. She will eventually fall over/hasn’t mastered going from sitting to crawling. PT has been thrilled with her progress. She's still a bit stiff and doesn't have the natural reflex to grab onto you or to brace herself when falling. This is still in the realm of normal.
  • We’ve had several recommended follow-up appointments and she’s passed her vision and hearing tests. 
  • She’s has another cold, her 5th so far, and while she's handling it fine, it's definitely the worst she's had. Breathing appears to be fine, she just seems fussy and uncomfortable and her nose has been running like crazy. We were supposed to do her oxygen test tomorrow to see how she'd do on the plane, but she shouldn't do it with the bad cold so we're postponing the test.  
  • She seems to be going through some separation anxiety which seems to be right on schedule according to the baby app. Amazingly, she does pretty well with us leaving her in the room initially (she may get mad once she wakes up if we go in and then leave again), but does not like when she's playing and we leave the room. If she's distracted, it's fine, but if she sees you leave, she's not having it. As long as you're talking to her, or near her, she's pretty content, even during the tougher times of day like before dinner. 

    Cokesy-Bean. This is the month we shared you with the world. Well, at least the Facebook world. I'm so private on social media but Dad has been working with several organizations and we'd like to raise money to research pulmonary lymphangiectasia. He put together an emotional video chronicling your journey and we shared it, receiving lots of supportive words, congratulations, as well as donations. While our closest friends and family, as well as people we see frequently, know the basics of your story, there are many others we're connected to who didn't even know we'd had another baby. My profile picutre hadn't been changed in at least a year and a half, so it was nice to add an updated one with you, as well as one of you and the boys. I'm still not sure how we ended up so lucky. I continue to see posts memorializing angel babies on my Hydrops facebook groups. Just today I saw one for a baby born sleeping at 34 weeks, hydrops discovered at 30 weeks. I often read about situations that are identical to ours, yet they weren't lucky enough to take home a baby. I'm still in awe of how far you've come and while there are many moments you're treated without a thought of your past, I get in as many snuggles and kisses as I can during the day. Witnessing an ongoing miracle is pretty incredible, but I'm grateful that the amazement hasn't dulled and I can truly say that I recognize multiple times a day how special you are and how lucky we are. It's pretty cool that your brothers do too, on a much simpler level, and shower you with snuggles, kisses and endless 'I love you Cokes' throughout the day.  



It's been a nice tradition to go to Disneyworld every year, which really started because there's a direct flight to Orlando, which is not that much farther than Ft. Lauderdale to Naples, the next best direct flight from San Francisco. It's been fun to see the boys get more and more excited about the characters and the shows now that they watch a bit more of that on TV.

Dave was a little bummed we weren't going to be able to go this year, knowing how much the boys would love it at this age. Once we started talking more, we decided it would be fun to take a little trip, but driving so we'd avoid the germs on the plane. Dave and I have avoided all drives longer than about 3/3.5 hours (like to San Luis Obispo). Being stuck in the car that long with kids isn't fun so we've never driven to LA with them, not even to visit my sister, which we really should've. But Dave seems to be a lot more into driving now since the Tesla is so fun to drive, and the boys can be handed an ipad and they're happy for literally hours. We weren't sure about Coco, and having to stop to feed her the bottle was going to be a pain, but we decided to go for it. It actually worked out pretty well.

The drives went well, coming in at about 8 hours total including 2-hours worth of stops to eat/charge the car/feed Coco. Since we would've had to stop with kids anyway for eating and the bathroom, it wasn't a pain at all to charge the car. There are superchargers all over that charge really fast, so either a quick 15-minute charge to get you the last miles home, or a longer 45 minute full charge. We left early each way, probably by 5:30. The boys didn't go right back to sleep immediately, bur after 30 minutes or so, they did fall asleep for at least another hour. Because you know that ipads don't work until it's light out, right? :)

W especially had a hard time giving up the ipad. He was lounging like a teenager in the back, foot crossed over his knee, relaxing with his headphones in and lots of attitude anytime I interrupted him, or God-forbid, asked him to put down the ipad. I'm not into screentime, but fine with it for the drive, though I would prefer they do something first and get at least a little bored before immediately handing over the devices. Colette did really well in the car -- lots of sleeping, or just hanging out I guess, we didn't hear much from her!

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and had plenty of room for all of us. It was nice to stay on-site, but for the money, we weren't that impressed with the accommodations. Dave does such a great job planning, has all of our meals booked out with reservations, whether at the hotel or in the park.

The first day was spent at Disneyland and we were there from probably 8:30-9 until about 3. The boys did well, we ended up walking about 5 miles that day and though there was plenty of complaining, we didn't use a stroller at all for them, so I was pretty impressed. It was a little drizzling for the first hour of the day at the park, which ended up working to our advantage -- we rode many rides over and over again so by the time it was 10am, they had been through these rides maybe 15 times. They both loved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I was even able to take Colette on some of these when she was in the ergo.

We split up at times so I could go pump and feed Coco. They have a baby center there which made it really easy, though Colette was too distracted throughout the trip, even when in the room, to finish bottles. I ended up adding her 10pm dreamfeed back in just while we were gone so she could still get her volume. We were able to feed her solids at dinner each night too, somehow. Unfortunately this trip was at the tail-end of her sleep issues -- waking up at 3am and up for an hour, and one night she was up for much longer which made the next day at California Adventure pretty tough for me. The day we went to Disney was the day her first tooth popped through and she pulled herself forward and started crawling for the first time. I was pretty sure the sleep issues were related to something happening developmentally and that seems to be the case. I was pretty tired, but we survived.

We went to a character dinner the first night, and the boys the refused to say hi to any characters, oh well. The next night was pizza in Downtown Disney and the restaurant was awesome, so accommodating with three crazy kids and awesome food. Maybe it helped that Dave ordered a nice bottle of wine ;) We did room service the last night which the boys thought was so fun.

I had never been to California Adventure, so that was fun and something different, but unfortunately a lot of the rides had a height minimum which meant that Coco couldn't come with me even in the carrier. It still worked out okay and was neat to see, but Disneyland definitely seems better for our family at this point. We went to the Little Mermaid Princess lunch and Coco slept during lunch, but she was up at the end so I had to get her first photo with a princess (the boys again were too shy to even look their way).

The trip was pretty exhausting. By the time we wrangled everyone back to the hotel at 3pm each day, Dave and I were beat and needed a break, so there was more TV time for the boys. I think they loved having a TV in the room. Bedtime was a bit of a battle each night too, but I think there's just so much excitement with everything going on.

On Sunday, we drove to my sister's house, hung out there for a bit so the boys could play on the trampoline and then headed to the beach for 'snow sledding'. It was so great to see them. The boys really love being with their big cousins and I can tell the older boys love playing with them too. Besides of video of the sand sledding, I can't believe I didn't get any photos, especially of Colette with my sister.

I think we were slightly intimidated by the trip and no doubt, it was tough with three young kids, but I think we're glad we did it. It was a great time to go, while the park was set up for the holidays, but didn't have the crowds of everyone there during Christmas.

Colette: 7 Months Old

A bit behind on this one, but glad I got the update to the nurses on-time so this sums up what happened last month -- not necessarily where she's at today.

7 Months Old (5.5 months adjusted)

Colette has had an exciting month! We started increasing quicker and she is now completely on full-fat breastmilk!!! (as of Dec. 24). My supply has dropped over the months, but I continue to pump about half of her daily intake and supplement with my freezer stash from the earlier months for the rest so I think -- and I really hope -- we should make it to a year.

We dropped the 10pm feed a week before she hit 7 months and she’s done well at adjusting her daily intake between the 5 feeds, taking 6.5oz bottles at 7am and 7pm, and 5oz per feed during the day for a total of 28oz avg (this has gone up again in recent weeks!). We fortify one bottle per day with Monogen. She weighs about 16 ½ lbs now.

Though she gagged and spit up the first few times she tried solid food, she’s done much better over the past few weeks and has had squash, sweet potato, broccoli, pear, peaches, mango, banana, applesauce and oat cereal.

The last 1-2 weeks of her 6th month had been rough for sleep and for multiple nights in a row, she woke up at exactly 3:10 or 3:11am and was active (happy & ‘talking’) for a good hour. I figured something was up developmentally and just shy of her 7-month birthday she cut her first tooth and started crawling – well, pulling herself forward a foot or so to reach a toy (or an iphone really gets her moving!).  

Unfortunately it’s been an endless month of illnesses, though thankfully nothing serious. Over Thanksgiving, the boys came down with enterovirus. They were quarantined downstairs with Dave for 4 days while I kept Colette in her room. She’s a pretty easy baby but was so high maintenance; I realize how much she gets from just being around everyone and taking it in. The colds seem to have dragged on and despite our best efforts, Colette has already had 4 colds, but she’s been fine each time so far. She got her first IVIG infusion on Wednesday since her levels were borderline. This is basically plasma from 1000 different people and helps keep the immune system strong. It was tough managing an active baby with an IV but she did well.

She had her first trip to Disneyland! We drove and she did so well in the car. Besides being too distracted to eat full bottles, everything went pretty well. She stayed in the ergo most of the time but I had to get her out for a photo with Cinderella. Taking 3 kids to Disneyland is no joke though, talk about exhausting!! She has an oxygen test in January as we’re hoping to take her to Florida in February and want to make sure she’ll be okay on the plane.

William loves to play ‘digger’ with her when she’s doing tummy time. He sits behind her and uses her legs as his ‘controllers’ and calls her bum the ‘engine’ :). ‘Cokes’ or ‘Cokesy’ seem to be the nicknames of the moment for her.  She loved meeting Santa, I think because he looks a bit like Papa.

Coco Bean. What a big month for you! And now seeing you several months later, it's crazy how much your eating has improved again! You really do continue to surprise me. But like any baby, things change by the day. Each time Dedee comes (Sundays and Thursdays), I feel like it's a new update on how you're sleeping or eating. I'm so glad we've gotten through the parties-in-the-middle-of-the-night phase and as I suspected, you were just getting ready for some big things. I noticed your tooth peeking through as we waited for Dad and the b's to be done on the Winne-the-Pooh ride. I couldn't believe it! Then we got back to the room and you finally pulled yourself forward to crawl. That's a loose term of course, you're not moving far, but you can pivot and if motivated, pull yourself several feet forward. What a month with all the sicknesses we've had in our house, but you really are our miracle baby, you avoided enterovirus and mysteriously were totally fine after showing signs of getting a cold for about 24 hours (watery eyes, coughing, sneezing). Dr. Hardy, who saw you the morning you were getting sick, thought for sure she'd see you again as things progressed, but when she called the next day, I told her you were totally fine, no signs of any sickness. So crazy. Your first Thanksgiving was a bust, but next year will be better anyway -- you can eat food :) Though a bit distracted while eating on our trip, you otherwise did well. I think you fussed one time on the way home -- and William was annoyed like a teenager would be when I kept asking him to replace your paci. He's so sweet with you all the time, that this was so out of character. You were so easy to travel with, I hope we're able to take many more trips in the (possibly near) future.

We love you!!

Christmas 2016

It was different to be home for the holidays this year and while we were a little bummed out not to be in Florida like usual, we're so grateful we're just being overly cautious with Colette. We're booked (on miles) to go in February so hoping that trip will pan out.

The boys finished school on Wednesday, Dec. 14 and had a performance at school that day. Pretty cute, but they were very shy and not to into it. Dave and I left Colette with Jessica so we were able to enjoy some time just with the boys. We went to brunch after, then came home to pack up the car as we left for Disneyland early the next morning. That will be a separate post, but it was nice to get away for a few days over the very long break the boys had.

I was a bit worried about how we'd fill all the days off since I'm really trying to avoid museums and other indoor place spaces with all the germs that are out there at this time of year. Though the weekends were long -- Jessica had Fri-Mon off for 2 straight weeks and Dave was home those days, we did get out to do activities and on the one hand, the break went by relatively quickly and we found plenty to do, but there were many days Dave and I were exhausted when we finally sat down after putting the boys to bed. I was concerned with the boys' brattiness before Christmas, but I feel like the latter half of the break was better, probably because they got so much attention. Thankfully the weather was actually pretty good -- very cold, but not much rain, so being outside was an option.

Dave went to work 3 days each week and some days I took all three on an adventure, others I had Jessica come early to take the boys out somewhere. One day my Dad tagged along and we went to the Fairmont to see the huge gingerbread house and have hot chocolate.

Another day, we met my mom, Tenzing and Crusoe at the mall downtown to meet Santa and then go for pancakes after. The kids weren't too into talking to Santa, but Colette loved him! It was a little chaotic with all the kids, but we had fun. Plus, we got the ride the glass elevators at the St. Francis, which all the kids loved.

My mom and I also took William and George to the tree-lighting at Golden Gate Park which is really fun (and free!) with rides, crafts, etc.

The boys were really into Christmas this year and loved helping me decorate the tree. They loved putting all their ornaments on, especially since they have a lot of their own ornaments that they've gotten from Ma each year.

We also decorated gingerbread houses with Tenzing and Crusoe which is becoming an annual tradition.

While Elizabeth, Tenzing and Crusoe were home for two weeks, my brother only came home for a few days. He spent Christmas eve morning with us so that was great to see him. We definitely miss them living in San Francisco!

On Christmas Eve, we went to the 5pm church service that was kid-friendly. There was some talk about the boys being in the pageant, but they didn't want to when it came down to it, and then they lasted literally one minute before George said, 'I don't want to be here' loudly. Downstairs they went to children's church. Colette, on the other hand, loved it -- I've never seen her so 'chatty'. So happy, but way too loud, so Dave and I took turns with her out in the lobby. I had ham in the slow cooker at home, so dinner was ready when we got home, but it was still a busy night. Luckily all the presents were wrapped so we didn't have to do too much to set everything out.

I feel like all parents have a year when the kids are bratty and just quickly open all the gifts only to ask for more. Based on the boys' recent attitudes, I warned Dave that this might be our year. Surprisingly, it was a really nice morning. The boys waited til sun clock was up so I had time to pump and feed Colette before they came upstairs. They were excited about opening presents, but also were excited to play with everything. We didn't end up getting through all the presents for several days. Colette loved Christmas too, was interested in open presents and playing with them.

Best present ever!


G asked Santa for a pool for Christmas and was very happy with this :)
It wasn't ideal to have to break up the morning to head out to Danville for Christmas with my family. Obviously we wanted to see everyone -- my little sister even came into town -- but the morning became a bit rushed so I think we'd either invite people over to us or try to do it Christmas Eve morning next time, if we're in town.

I'm lucky that Dave is so involved with the present-purchasing. He made a list of what he wanted to get and then did most of the shopping online just after Thanksgiving. I got a bunch of art stuff too. In the end, we agreed that it was too much and after opening stuff, much of it went back into the closet to take out at another time. This was the first year we've been home for Christmas, so it was fun to do the big Christmas, but Dave and I agree that traveling for Christmas is nice as there are a lot fewer presents and part of the present is being together on a trip. We'd like to continue to go to Florida for Christmas, especially since the boys will get out for break around the 15th again next year, but we'll see how it works as they get older and may want to be home for Santa.

Papa's present to the grandkids: a box of various bubble wrap!
My dad dried out all these leave so the kids could play in them

We continued with the festivities for a few more days, decorating sugar cookies and driving to see the lights around the city. The 'Tom and Jerry House' is just amazing!!


We also did 'pack a sack' at church which was the perfect introduction to volunteering for the boys. I took them over and left Colette with Dad. They had signs all down each table with pictures on them so it was clear what to put in each bag (1 banana, two sandwiches, etc.). The boys loved doing it and we had a nice time and good conversations about helping people who don't have much. By the time we got home one of them had thrown a fit about having to walk too far (1 block) back to the car, so we definitely have some work to do.

Before New Years, we headed up to Sacramento for the morning to check out the train museum. The boys liked it a lot, though there were only 2 trains they could go on and I think they got the impression there would be more. We had a nice lunch after and it was fun to be out of the city -- I hadn't been to Sacramento in forever.

We went to Noon Years Eve at the Discovery Museum during the day, which was fun, but packed. That night we had a big crab and steak feast that my dad joined us for. Dave and I watched a movie and toasted with Champagne. 2016 was certainly not the best year for us, but then again Colette is home with us and thriving so I really can't complain. Regardless, here's wishing for a happy and healthy 2017!