Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Incredibly an entire year has passed since last Halloween. Seriously, where did the time go???

This Halloween turned out a little different than expected for us. We bought Elena a very cute flower fairy princess costume that she loved, and has been wearing off and on around the house. Considering Garrett's obsession with all things related to the Cars movie, we bought him a Lightening McQueen costume. Let's just say that didn't go over so well -- he screamed and cried every time I tried to put it on him. His sister, on the other hand, thought it was fantastic and wears it proudly around the house. That left his duck costume from last year. Another no go. So, I caved and let him dress up as a Red Sox baseball player (by the way, I never posted to shout to the top of the world GOOOOOOOOOO SOOXXXX! The best team in the universe!!!!!!) That was great, especially since the boy has developed an affinity for his baseball hat and even has to wear it to bed (yes, I have become one of those moms who lets her child take strange items to bed with him -- a soccer ball tonight, for instance, on top of the hat). However, he wanted no part of the baseball mitt or ball ("Lena, Lena, Lena" was the immediate response every time we tried to hand one to him).

With all that said, here are some photos of tonight's festivities, namely us hanging out at the house handing out candy with the kids. Not the costumes that I had planned for them, but the kids are pretty darn cute still!

Garrett wore his costume all day long. The less to fuss about in the afternoon when it was time for treats. Here he is at the end of his nap. Obviously he woke up at some point and passed out again, this time slumped over Lemur.

This year's cutest duck in the world winner:

Last year's cutest duck in the world winner (look how much he has grown!!!)

Aww, Mom, can't I have just one more treat????
(And no, that is not an egg in the grass. It's Bubby's baseball that has been ditched for the soccer ball)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back Track

Now that we are a little more settled in, and the fires are starting to get contained, allow me to back-track to Elena's christening the last weekend in September. I can't believe almost a month has already passed since then!

We were very fortunate to have lots of family out for Elena's big day. Of course, Becky and Scott, Elena's and Garrett's godparents, were on hand, and we all got to meet beautiful Diana for the first time. I am so sad that we are going to be living on opposite coasts for at least the next two years and won't get to see this precious girl grow up! One of the bummers of being married to the Marines. In addition, my folks made the trek down from Maine, and Chris's folks came out with his Grandpa Delbert (Mick's dad) and Grandma Lil (Sherri's mom). Chris's mom's cousin, Trudy, and her husband, Mike, came over for the weekend from South Carolina, and Diana, Sherri's best friend while Chris was growing up who now lives in North Carolina, came down for the church service and lunch on Sunday with her son. Needless to say, we had a full and busy beach house for several days.

Here are some photos from the weekend. I know there are a lot of them, but I really did cut some out. It was just so special to have so much family together for the weekend. With the move we just aren't sure when we'll be able to do something like this again.

Elena showing Papa around the place.
The kids and Yaya blowing bubbles in the breeze.

Elena snuggling with Grandpa Delbert

The men fawning over Diana. What is it about little girls?

The Benninghoff family. Introducing Diana Benninghoff. She's gonna be a heart-breaker!

Saturday night we took everyone out to Mike's Farm, a local farm that has a pumpkin patch, does hayrides, and has a fantastic southern dinner (fried chicken, ham biscuits, pork loin and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, mac 'n cheese, and dessert). We've been promising Chris's folks to get out there for seven years, and we decided that this was just about it for them to make it out there with us. We missed the tractor show, but we had a great dinner. To top things off, when the kids were running around the yard after dinner we met two beautiful little girls who were visiting with their grandmother. The amazing thing is that they were adopted from Guatemala too, and one of them was born in Antigua, just like Elena! What a small world!

One of the kids current favorite books is Dora's Perfect Pumpkin. Garrett found this one on display and said, "Momma. Pumpkin. Dora." I guess he found Dora's perfect pumpkin himself.

Um, Bubby, I think this is the perfect pumpkin.

Little girl all dressed up for her baptism Sunday morning. She wore my christening gown for the service. Her gift from Chris and I was the jewelry, locket and bracelet, that my parents gave me for my christening. She liked her bling.

Opening her presents. More like her cards, to be read over and over again.

Elena feeding Grandpa Delbert some goldfish crackers.

No, Garrett is not raising is arms in victory at the prospect of having a Broncos shirt (Grandma pulled through for Chris and presented the kids with Broncos outfits to counter-act the Pats outfits. However, Garrett was less than thrilled with the idea. Good boy!)

Happy Daddy in matching outfits with his kids. (Mommy only allowed this because the Pats didn't play until Monday night, so there was no cross-mojination)

The Merrill-Atwood clan
Our last trip to the beach in North Carolina. Sherri was home sick with the stomach flu, so we trekked off without her.
Here's a great shot of Garrett watching the surf with Grandpa (Chris's dad, Mick)

Grandpa Delbert and Grandma Lil keeping an eye on us.

Elena couldn't stop talking about the "bubbles" in the water. She thought they were pretty special all over her.

Just a cool shot of Garrett on the beach.

The surf was absolutely crazy on Monday. We could hear the roar of the waves at the house -- three blocks away! And there wasn't even a storm out to sea!

Elena "salting" her brother with sand from the beach. He's completely oblivious.

That's about all I have for now. Next post should be tomorrow (good weather cooperating) and will be about the start of our road trip, Guatoberfest included. Thanks for all the good wishes and prayers y'all have been posting. Chris and I really appreciate them. Until next time ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If this is what happens with 31 candles,

then what do I have to look forward to when I turn 62?

Seriously, there was a fire at the stables just up the street from us this afternoon. The kids were napping. Chris and I were catching up on Heroes online. Generally we were just enjoying the lazy afternoon for my birthday. Then came the knock at the door and the ringing of the doorbell. The stables, one hill up from our neighborhood, had caught fire and we needed to boogie. This is what I saw out our window:

After about 15 minutes, this is what the fire had grown into. If you look closely, you can actually see the fires just up the hill.

We quickly packed up (guess procrastinating on un-packing wasn't such a bad thing after all) and hit the road. Cynthia lives just a mile from Qualcomm stadium, which is being used as an evacuation center, so she said we'd be good there. Guess I really wanted to celebrate today with her.

After enjoying a nice meal and watching the start of the World Series (Go SOX! All I really wanted for my birthday was for the team to schmuck the Rox, and they have delivered thus far -- knock on wood!) we got the call that it was safe to trek back home. So that is where we are now -- home, safe and sound.

Please pray for all the responders. They have done an excellent job of keeping everyone up to date on the status of the fires and keeping us and our property safe. These fires have been absolutely crazy, and yet there is relatively little loss of life and loss of property is much less than what I would have expected with as many acres as have been burned. Thanks for all you do!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Welcome to sunny southern California!

Fiery southern California is more like it. We arrived in San Diego, safe and sound, on the 14th. We moved into our house on base on Monday and our stuff was delivered on Wednesday. We thought we were doing well and had almost unpacked the entire house by Sunday. Of course, on Sunday the Santa Anna winds started, as did the wildfires.

Why are we surprised? When we moved into North Carolina, just over 7 years ago, we were greeted by two tropical storms, including one on the day our stuff was moved into our house, and a hurricane. Seems natural disasters are par for the course when we move.

Thankfully, we are safe. The kids are safe. The base has us on notice for possible evacuation if the fire moves closer (currently it is just over the ridge in Fallbrook where it has burned over 500 structures). We can see and smell the smoke all too well and have the air condition running to keep our air clean. If you didn't know that peoples homes were burning, you would just think that there is a nice wood fire burning somewhere near, creating the sense of a cool fall day.

We have lots of photos to share of our trip west, but for now I'll leave you with some pictures I took of our neighborhood this afternoon. I'm hoping that the orange haze will show up. There are mountains that are usually easy to see in both directions, but the smoke is so thick right now they are invisible. Good news is that the Santa Annas are due to die down tomorrow and we might even have fog on Thursday. Here's hoping!