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Wednesday, January 30, 2013


So I've had a sinus cold for the last five or so days.  Although maybe technically it's been almost 3 weeks since it started with a headache and that post-nasal drip irritation in my throat. But the boogers and dripping really got going five days ago.

I know the conventional wisdom is to drink LOTS of fluids and get lots of rest.  But dangit that's hard. I mean, I spend so much of my day peeing, blowing my beverage-enhanced runny nose, coughing up mucus, and washing my hands.  I have to put lotion on my hands and my nose to combat the irritation and dryness.  And then my sleep is disrupted by the all the peeing and waking up with a stuffed nose.  Boy do I wish I were one of those people who could sleep open mouthed.  The dryness wakes me up instantly so I basically can't sleep at all.  Ug.  Even squirts of Afrin can't cut it some nights.

The weird thing is, I don't feel sick--no body aches, no headaches (unless I roll my eyes and then my forehead and eye sockets hurt), no lethargy.  But I do look sick, as my labmate was eager to point out:  "Boy, Julie.  You look like shit.  Are you okay?"  Gee, thanks.  And I guess I don't have much of an appetite.

Things could be worse.  I mean, I could have stomach flu or something.  This is mostly annoying and I wish it'd go away.

Friday, January 25, 2013

MLK Weekend in Gualala with Friends

This past weekend we invited two families up to Gualala with us.  We all stayed at the Coast House and had a great time.  It was especially nice for us parents since the three kids played well together (for the most part) and left us alone to chat.

As usual, Eddie and I left Davis just after his gymnastics class.  We stopped in Vacaville to buy loads of stuff at Costco so we didn't arrive at the Coast House until 3 pm.  After unloading alllllllllllllll the stuff in the van Dave arrived.  (Seriously so much stuff: luggage with clothes, a laundry basket full of pantry items, a cooler full of stuff from our house and more stuff from Costco, Eddie's bike, Taters' crate, Eddie's train set and a backpack full of books, my school bag...gosh, it really adds up!)

The Trunnelle family arrived on Saturday morning so we got to go out for pizza and to the toy shop.  
It was a relaxing weekend with the doggies to help the dads nap.
Jeff and Kirby snoozing.
Saturday afternoon the Ye/Zeng family arrived so we went to the park to let the kids play.
The swings and the slides were the most popular.  Not to mention the gathering of loooooooooong sticks by the boys. 
When it started getting dark we drove down the road to where Papa John has his most recent burn piles where we made s'mores.  Mmmm.
It was a little nuts with the three marshmallow-stealing dogs, overtired kids, and a big fire.  But we made it work.
Jane, Liyang, and Rongzhong.
 We headed back to the house to prepare a surf-and-turf feast.  It was really yummy and allowed for leftovers the next night.
Renee was so cute with her babies--she asked me for a cup and spoon so she could feed them in the kitchen while we made dinner.
Surf and turf dinner: tri tip, crab, sweet roasted butternut squash, salad, and creamy pesto gnocchi.  We need to get rid of these leather office chairs in favor of benches so we can fit more people around the table!  It gets crowded fast.
The kiddos brushing their teeth.  Eddie and Renee slept in the same room that night.  "My Nee gets to sleep with me!" chirped Eddie.  They are quickly becoming besties.
Sunday morning Rongzhong's family departed--he's a postdoc in my lab and he had to get back to monitor an experiment.  We were sad to see them go, but they'll be coming back again soon I think. 

Kelly and Jeff figured they'd leave soon after...but they kept delaying their departure.  Eventually they asked if they could just stay an extra night.  Of course!  It was nice to have extra time to just hang out and chat.  We walked downtown for gelato but were bummed because Trink's was closed earlier than I expected.  So we settled for popscicles from the market instead.

The next day most of us packed up the house and departed--everyone except Dave and Taters.  After years of being fine in the car, Taters suddenly got nervous or carsick or something whenever we drive up the coast.  I know the roads are super windy so I go really, really slow around the turns so everyone stays comfortable.  About a year ago I had to banish him to the crate, lest he crawl under the pedals while I'm driving.  Eeeeeeeeek!  It's still pretty stressful for us because he slams his head into the crate and now even tries to paw his way out of the crate during a particular 30 minute stretch of the road.  All that's to say that I made Dave deal with bringing Taters back to Davis.  I might try giving him some Benadryl before the drive next time to see if that helps (we used to do that for Emmy before she'd fly).  Don't worry, Taters, you only have to make that drive like 4-5 more times ever!

Eddie and I went down to Palo Alto for Batiste and Dyani's birthday party.  There was a pinata, cupcakes, and lots of her friends and colleagues to chat with.  Brice and Edward had gone shopping for a new bike for Dyani for her 30th birthday.  For his second birthday, Batiste got the same balance bike that Eddie had. 

Dyani threatened to ride Eddie's bike around the park when he wouldn't surrender Batiste's new bike (granted, he was probably confused because it is the exact bike he used to have).  See her bump?  There's a baby girl in there!
Happy birthday, Batiste!  You're the cutest little Frenchman I know.
Even the adults got a turn at the pinata.  Donovan did pretty well!
After the party, Edward and I decided to go to Fleet Feet together to get fitted for running shoes.  The shopping trip was fine until the very end (like, the part where I have to pay) when Eddie suddenly became feverish and SUPER cranky.  I was worried he was barfy and would puke all over the store so I hurried him to the car and left Edward to pay for all our stuff.  Luckily, a dose of fever reducer solved the problem.  So we spent the night at Edward's apartment rather than deal with driving back while he wasn't feeling good.  Ruby wasn't supposed to be there, but she was a good girl and kept her presence mostly unknown.  =)  When they moved in, Edward asked if animals were allowed and was told that the complex is "pet friendly" as long as they don't make a lot of noise--I guess that means animals can visit but not reside there.

Eddie was still feverish the next morning so we stayed yet another night since he couldn't go to daycare anyway until he would be fever-free for 24 hours.  Why go all the way home to an empty house when we could stay with people we love to hang out with?  He never had any other symptoms than a fever so I'm not sure what his ailment actually was. Perhaps being overtired and only eating crap granola bars and candy all day Monday?
Waiting for the fever reducers to kick in...poor kid only stays put when he's sick.
Eddie got upset that I cleaned the kitchen. "But there aren't any dishes for ME TO WASH NOW!"  What a weirdo.
After nearly a full day in the apartment, we were getting cabin fever so my my mom came over for lunch on Tuesday afternoon just for fun. It's nice being so close that she can hang out on a moment's notice like that. 
Jennifer recommended that we eat at Rose International Market in Saratoga.  We did and it was amazing. Next time I go back I'm going to ask if I can have a few sampler plates with a little bit of everything; it all looks and smelled soooooo good.

So what was supposed to be a normal Gualala weekend turned into a solid 5 days away from our house.  It's weird.  And now everyone in my lab is giddy with it's-finally-Friday joy and I'm feeling like it's only Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kauai 2012

Where do I begin this post?

Who: Just me and Dave...and later, Edward.

What: Our first-ever trip to Hawaii (an odd thing since we've always just been here in CA)

Where: Plantation-Hale suites in Kapa'a, Kauai

When: December 9-14, 2012

Why: So many reasons.  To name a few: to relax, to hang out together and not while caring for an active child, to escape the chilly weather, to celebrate surviving my qualifying exam, to do something new/fun/relaxing/delicious before I tackle the last major step of my tenure (such as it is) in Davis.

How: It was a frugal trip, made possible by a combination of hard work and sweat, an AmazonLocal voucher, off-season plane ticket prices, and yelp.

Dave, my dad, and I (plus Jennifer and Edward a bit) all worked on Cassie's daycare back in September 2011.   We did much of the construction on the "school room."  It was hardly a shell of a building and now it's a to-code, full-functioning room for the kids to do their art work, have circle time, eat snacks, etc.  To pay us back, Cassie gave us 2 full weeks of "free" overnight childcare.  She didn't need to pay us back, but we sure did appreciate the gesture.  So of course we took her up on it.  We used a night here and there but made sure to save a week's worth for this trip.  She knew about it the whole time, too, even helping me lurk AmazonLocal and Groupon for possible trips.

Initially, I bought a Groupon voucher for a 5 night stay in Costa Rica complete with a culinary class with a chef and a 5 course beach dinner.  But the only dates available didn't work with our schedules so I got a refund before my 30 day window was up.  I got up one morning and saw an AmazonLocal deal for Kauai in my email--only $800 for a 6 person suite with a kitchen and a rental car for 5 nights.  I made sure there was availability at the hotel, checked that airline prices were decent, and bought it.  Once we worked out what dates to go based on my, Dave's, and Cassie's schedules we bought plane tickets for only $340 round trip for each of us.

Yelp guided us on our eats the whole time we were on the island.  Because I enjoy cooking so much, I don't actually want to eat at expensive places anymore (I get more enjoyment out of cooking something fancy myself and saving the money) we ate at cheap places instead.  I really do enjoy cheap eats.  And man, did we ever eat some good stuff.  You probably know that Dave, Edward, and I are Pork People.  We judge entire regions of the country based on the quality of their pulled pork.  While we like it in any form, we all prefer the lightly-to-no-sauce variety in the deep south over the heavily sauced Texan style.  So of course we sought out pork all over Kauai.

The kalua pork at Pono Market was soooooooooo good in fact, that it prompted Edward to fly over for a taste.  I mean, why not when plane tickets were only $300 and he didn't have to pay to stay?

Activities: We hiked the Na Pali coast, went tubing down an old sugar cane irrigation canal, lazed around on the beach, saw Waimea Canyon, and watched Jurassic Park 1 and 2 since they were filmed there. The guys snorkeled.

It was a fantastic trip.  I included just a few pictures here but if you'd like to see more, I can easily send you the link to my Picasa or Facebook albums, which are annotated.  Just email me or leave me a comment.
Pono Market kalua pork, seaweed salad, and sesame ahi poke.  Below is the conversation Edward and I had over gchat while we were eating this food near the beach.  At 4:30 pm his flight itinerary popped into my inbox.  BOOM. We are pork people.
4:01 PM        me: Dave says you should come here to eat the pork
  It's nice
4:02 PM Plantation Hale
  We have a kitchen
  You should hop a fight here tomorrow
4:03 PM We have two beds
4:04 PM We can walk to the airport to fetch close :-)
4:05 PM Edward: Haha
  It's only $336 roundtrip
 me: Do it
  You will love it
4:06 PM Edward: When do you guys get back?
 me: Seriously you can
  We leave at like 3
4:07 PM Do it
  Gonna drive. Let me know.
  We leave on Akaka 848 on 12/14

6 minutes
4:14 PM me: Alaska
 Edward: I can get the same flight
  Arriving 12:25pm tomorrow, same flight back
4:15 PM me: Do it
  Just send me the flight confirmation
4:20 PM Is Jennifer going to be okay with you coming?
 Edward: Yep
4:23 PM Where are your seats?
4:25 PM me: 11d and e
  Can Jennifer come?
 Edward: She can't

6 minutes
4:32 PM Edward: Woo!

12 minutes
4:44 PM Edward: Sooming shorts, shorts, boxers, flip flops, socks, casual shoes, shirts
  1 or 2 snorkeling sets?
4:48 PM me: 2
  Looks good
Dave and I on our first day after lounging on the beach.
We started seeing rainbows EVERYWHERE as soon as Edward arrived.  Coincidence?  Yes...but he'll argue they were for him.
We hiked the Na Pali coast trail the day before we left.
Dave and I on our lanai before we went home.
It was soooooooooo freaking windy most of the time so I didn't actually get to wear the cute hat I bought there. Oh well.  Maybe next time?  And yes, I am a whitey.  I seriously think I saw a few people wince and put their sunglasses on when they saw me walk by on the beach.
Both Dave and I agreed that while we enjoyed having the whole week childfree, we would have preferred to have only a couple of nights away from Eddie.  All the activities we did would have been great for Eddie, too.  I think we all would have had a great time with him there.  If only plane tickets didn't cost so much...  Lately Eddie's been really interested in lava and volcanoes.  We told him that the island we went to was created from lava coming out of the ocean a long, long time ago. He was super disappointed that we didn't have any pictures of hot, flowing lava on our trip.  Once he's "bigger" (age TBD), we'll take him to Guatemala, Hawaii, or Iceland to see some in real life.

Mahalo, Kauai.  Until we meet again...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Eddie's First Trip to the Dentist

Last quarter I finally changed Eddie's UC Davis dependent health insurance from medical only to medical/dental/vision.  It costs a bit more obviously, but I wanted him to start going to the dentist.  I remember when he was a baby I would ask people when they thought it was appropriate to send a kid to the dentist.  Some people said as soon as the first few teeth pop out...isn't that insane?  Most people I know take their kids to pediatric dentists, and those doctors tend to recommend coming in around age 1 or 2.  Personally, it seems like a ploy to make money.

Dave and I decided to wait until we could tell Eddie was "ready" for a "real" appointment.  I can't remember if I posted about this already, but last summer when Dave and Eddie fled Davis for a few days to give me some around-the-clock work time, Eddie had his first visit to the dentist.  Well, as far as he was concerned it was just a visit with his Aunt Dyani (DDS) and a toy haul.  Dyani's boss let him come in for free and he showered him with gifts even though Eddie wouldn't cooperate at all.  Sigh.  I guess the boss' logic is that the first dental visit should be 'unicorns and rainbows' so they associate good things with the office instead of scary noises and creepy people poking around in their mouths.  And he's probably right...but I was dismayed when Eddie came home with like 5 Target Dollar Bin type toys.  Five!


Dave made all of us Bowers dental appointments for a Friday in late December. Eddie and I read books with a sweet six year old girl in the waiting room while Dave got his teeth cleaned.  Then Eddie and I went back for his appointment.  I'd been talking it up the whole week--how the dentist would count his teeth, touch his teeth with tools, and brush and floss his teeth.  

Eddie chose to sit on my lap. He let the hygienist do everything she needed to...even if it did require that she use both flavor options of toothpaste (bubblegum and grape).
Good job, Eddie Pie!  Daddy and I were soooooooo proud of you for being a "bigger boy" at the dentist. 
The dentist said everything looks good and that we need to floss his teeth since they touch.  I guess most kids get cavities because of build-up between the teeth, rather than on brushable surfaces. 

Despite what I thought at first, the flossing thing hasn't been an issue at all.  Eddie lets us floss his teeth every night with a flosser, just like I use.  I guess it's paying off to put up with Eddie hanging out with me in the bathroom every morning while I do my teeth.  

I put a little cup full of flossers in the hall bathroom and he gets to pick one out every night after this bath.  They're all the same, but he sure does contemplate the choice for a while.  

The hygienist told Dave we'd all be having fluoride treatments that day.  She reminded him that it's the paint-on varnish stuff and we'd have to avoid eating hard/sharp foods for the rest of the day.  But because we were going to Joe's Crab Shack to use our nacho coupons and nacho chips qualify as "hard" she just gave us the containers to paint on ourselves some other time.  Dave and I still haven't done ours yet (oops!) but we did paint Eddie's on the next night.

Our tap water isn't fluoridated so he gets drops most nights and the other nights I let him use adult toothpaste that he just swallows to get the fluoride.  Now that I think about it, the dentist didn't even ask us about drops....I'll ask next time to make sure he's getting enough. 

Yay healthy teeth!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year's & Gualala

After coming home from our first snow day, Dave came down with a little cold.  Since we were both on holiday vacation and could "afford" the time for him to sleep it off, he decided to stay home in Davis with the dogs while Eddie and I made a trip to Livermore for New Year's.  Sleep is the best medicine and since he normally works four 10 hour days he's not always able to get enough sleep in Gualala.  And when he gets sick, it always takes him a while to get over it.  Plus, it's always nice to give him some alone time in his house--something he almost never gets.

Eddie and I spent the night in Livermore at my folks' house.  That evening, I got him ready for his bath and then took off to Dyani's for her party.  My parents were kind enough to put Eddie to bed.  Worrying about crazy drunk drivers, my mom made me promise to leave the party before midnight so I could get back before too many drunks hit the roads.

The party was really calm: lots of families, doctors, etc. all chatting and happily munching on foie gras and fondue.  Dyani is definitely French now!

I was happy to see a childhood church friend at the party, a guy named Matt who I hadn't seen in probably 15 years.  Donovan and I had a fun time catching up with him.  We did a New Year's toast at 10 pm (for Chicago!) because a few of the families with kids wanted to get back home early.  Dyani's parents' anniversary is on New Year's Day so they drove over from Livermore to be at Dyani's place at midnight.  They arrived at about 11:15 pm so I was able to see them for a bit before I took off for home.

Eddie and I stayed to play at my folks' house for while the next day, helping my dad with some yard chores.  We got to go home with a laundry basket FULL of delicious greens and onions from his garden, too.
Grandpa made Eddie a yummy PB apple sandwich.

Eddie helped Grandpa sift compost to make soil blocks for radishes and arugula in the greenhouse. I rototilled part of the yard in an effort to kill off the stinging nettle plants growing there.
Without fail, Eddie and I end up raking or digging in the backyard when we visit.  I could have a whole post full of pictures from the course of his life in this very spot, playing in the dirt. (Note: I'm wearing my dad's high school winter coat in this picture. Once he outgrew it, my Grandma wore it for years. It fits me perfectly.)
Eddie and Grandma spent a lot of time reading together...and seeking out Waldo in my old books.
We gave Dave one more night to recover from his cold before heading up to Gualala for a few days.  Our time was spent doing three things: cooking/eating, adventuring through the forest with the dogs, and assessing the Coast House for our move.  We took measurements, mapped out the soon-to-be downstairs kitchen, and I took extensive photo and video documentation of every room, nook, cranny, and outside area so we can have a nice before/after compilation.  Dave and I are paying for all the Coast House renovations (except some windows that John never got around to replacing) so we're trying to plan everything out in stages so we can actually accomplish our wish list of changes.  And that means a lot of compromises in terms of quality and speediness of the changes (at least on my part!).  I finally relented and agreed on installing icky laminate/Formica countertops downstairs instead of Corian or marble.  At least downstairs will be rented out once we finish renovating the upstairs so I won't have to live with crappy counters forever.  Ha.
I made a see saw for us to play on and gave Eddie as much advantage as I could.  I love simple machines!
Dave and his boys: Eddie and Taters.
What's better than cuddling with your Papa after an afternoon spent hiking through the woods?
John had a burn pile going at last year's logging site so we got to go check it out one night. Here are three generations of Bower men standing in front of the blaze.
John and Peggy love Hagar the Horrible comics.  This one made me laugh so MUCH because I swear Dave and I have had this exact conversation.  I think we'll dress up as Helga and Hagar for Halloween this year.
Dave taking measurements downstairs.
Dave and I were also able to take Eddie to the play group at Action Network where we got to meet another family.  I also asked a zillion questions about recreation and sports for kids Eddie's age--I am hugely disappointed that there's nothing in terms of sports or dance classes until kids are in school.  I knew the choices would be limited,  but having NOTHING seems crazy.  Eddie's been in gymnastics for a year now and his little body and mind depend on having challenging experiences like that.  I'm going to have to get creative and come up with some alternatives (Form our own tot sports team or dance class? Ask the gym or church to host a Mommy and Me yoga class? Sign Eddie up for a class or two in Santa Rosa to attend on our weekly trips to "town" for Costco shopping?).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Eddie's First (and Second) Trip to the Snow

How is it possible that a child raised in the Central Valley had not seen snow or touched the ocean until his fourth year of life?  Gosh, Dave and I are lowsy parents in some respects.  Being only an hour from each environment, we just never got around to visiting either until he was three.

We took Eddie to the snow for the first time at Leland Snowplay at the beginning of January before Dave went back to work.  It was a three hour drive so I packed up the van the night before and we popped a sleeping/PJ-wearing Eddie into the warmed up car at 6:30 am.  Even stopping for bagels, once to check the tire pressure, and a final time to install the chains, we made excellent time and arrived at the park at 10:30 am.  I'd never installed chains before and it was snap; I don't know why people complain so much about it. I think I'd only driven a car one other time with chains on and I'd forgotten just how loud and bumpy it makes the car, even at 20 MPH.

I dressed us as best I could, without breaking the bank.  I didn't know if he/we'd like it so I didn't want to spend much money on supplies or gear.  Eddie wore a size 2T snow bib that I bought on clearance last season (it was wayyyy too small) and we all wore rain boots with extra socks.  Lucky for us, it was a warmish day so we didn't get too cold.  The biggest issues were that Eddie's pants were too short for the leg liner to fit all the way down in his boot so his feet got wet AND it turns out my "snow pants" that I've had for a last several years are most likely just "exercise" pants with a deceptively waterproof-appearing outer layer.  My butt got soaked playing in the snow.

Despite our gear, we had a fantastic time!  Eddie was too short to get a ticket on the tow-up route, so we stayed on the walk-up "bunny" sledding hill most of the day.  Our little boy went down on our laps once or twice and then insisted on going down alone.  It. Was. Adorable.  He looked like a little bobsledder!
Lucky Eddie got hauled up the hill by us.
Ready to go down the hill!
After a couple of hours sledding, Eddie decided he just wanted to play in the snow instead.
Dave and I had to dig a lot of holes in the snow banks for Eddie.  He said they were holes for dinosaurs...

Mama and Eddie Pie.
Me and Davie.
Three Bowers. My Aunt Virginia made Eddie's hat, originally for my mom when she had started losing her hair due to chemo treatments.  But it was too small for her. Luckily it's perfect for Eddie!
After a few hours we went to the car and ate a picnic lunch--I'd brought sandwiches, snacks, and water bottles because I wasn't sure we'd like the food sold at the snow park.  And boy am I glad we packed our food because the line inside at lunchtime was INSANE.  Dave and I bought coffees after lunch to warm up, but they were from a smaller counter at the back that didn't have a line.  And then we bought some bags of popcorn to munch on during the 3 hour drive home.

That night in bed, I ordered Eddie and me some new snow pants and him a pair of snow boots.  I figured Dave and I would make due with rain boots again or go to Target for some snow boots.  But of course, Target only sells snow boots in early fall so they were completely out of stock in-store.

We all enjoyed playing in the snow so much that we went again last weekend.  This time I decided on the Donner Summit Sno Park.  It was much cheaper, requiring only a parking pass, which I bought and printed beforehand.

It was even more fun than the proper snow park.  We forgot to buy/bring a sled, so we made due with the lid from a Rubbermaid tote in the car (our emergency kit).  Eddie also had success sledding in the laundry basket I'd used to pack all our gear into.  I'd packed up all the random lid-less pieces of Tupperware kicking around the kitchen so we could use them to make snow bricks to build a castle.
Eddie and I making snow angels.
Us in the woods at Donner Summit Snopark.
Eddie Pie in the snow!
Dave working on the snow castle.
We had another car picnic, but this time it was much better: olives, apple sauce, pesto-and-cream-cheese sandwiches on olive bread, PB & J, cheeses, crackers, tangerines, pretzels, cookies, etc.  And a huge thermos of hot coffee.
Our car picnic.  I love all my little Tupperwares.
After lunch Eddie wanted to hike through the woods, so we did, for about 2 hours straight.  We'd stop on occasion so he could knock snow off tree limbs but he was really interested in what we call "adventuring."  That is, just wandering around wherever.  Eventually, napless Eddie was not being a "good listener" anymore so I carried him back to the car.  We stripped off our snow gear, down to our PJs underneath, and drove home.  About 5 minutes into the drive, Eddie was dead asleep.

Since Donner Summit is only about 1.5 hours away from Davis, we had plenty of time to stop by Walmart to buy a replacement batter for the Saturn and then head to Costco for a pizza/polish dog dinner and to buy a few things for us and for Dave's parents.  The next morning Eddie went to the zoo with his friend Renee, leaving Dave and I time to go to Big 5 Sporting Goods to buy ourselves proper snow boots and extra gloves. I still need to get Eddie a second set of gloves since they get too wet to want to wear after lunch.

Next time we'll take friends with us to the snow and we're planning on a snowshoeing trip with Auntie and Uncle, too.  Yay snow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas 2012

Like last year, we opted to stay home in Davis for the holiday.  Our Christmas was small, with just a couple of gifts for each of us (well, Eddie also got one from Santa plus a hand-me-down I nabbed from my parents' house and we haven't done our gift exchange with my family yet).

We let Eddie put out cookies, a glass of milk, and a carrot for Santa and his helpers. And he was happy to see just crumbs and a carrot nub left when he got up at about 9 am on the big day. I made him pose for a few pictures before we opened up our gifts.  For record's sake, here's what we received:
Eddie's fourth Christmas, he's 3 years and 4 months old.
Eddie got a pair of ear muffs from his Grammy and Papa (for wearing on the heavy equipment), a dinosaur LEGO/K'NEX kit from us, a set of dinosaur figurines from Santa...and my old kid-sized sleeping bag that I nabbed from my parents' house.
Checking out his new toy.
He was insistent that we go to Gualala immediately so he could drive the "sheens" with his muffs on.
Dave got a coffee cup from Eddie and a set of Coffee Joulies from me (check them out--made by two Dave's and they're called Joulies ("Julies")--isn't that awesome?), and a bottle of Bogle port.  We both like Bogle wines a lot and he especially loves port (generally too sweet for me).  I took Eddie to the homewares store here in town and we found alllllllllll the cups with red on them, lined them up on a shelf, and then he picked one for his Daddy.  He almost settled on the roses and hearts one, but then chose one with two dogs chasing a cat on it. How appropriate.

I was spoiled and got a wireless mouse, a sleeve for my new laptop, a pair of crystal earrings to match last year's bracelet, and (the best part!) a no-touch infrared digital thermometer.  This type of thermometer has been on my wish list for eons and I'm so glad I got one!  Dave and I have both been using it--me for cooking and him for cooking, analyzing the new vs. old windows, and determining if the doors hanging in the garage were warm enough to paint.
You can see Eddie's cup of chocolate milk next to Dave's coffee cup during presents.  Giving Eddie a special treat like that allowed us to delay breakfast until nearly 10:30 am!

My parents arrived late that morning and my dad and I got right to work preparing our Christmas feast.  We were joined by my post doc (Rongzhong), his wife (Jane), and their toddler (Liyang...I was pronouncing it phonetically and then realized that they say it like Leon...oops).  We made: ham, greens, sweet potatoes, salad, olive bread, Red Hots apples, and two Swedish recipes since Edward and Jennifer were there on the holiday.  The Swedish things included glogg (basically sweetened, mulled red wine) and a  pepparkakor spice cake.  Jane brought some Chinese sesame balls filled with red bean paste and they were amazing.  I think we all had a great time.  Eddie and Leon had a fun time playing and my dad and Rongzhong chatted at the table for a long time.
Eddie helped me make the spice cake.

Christmas dinner.  We used my Grandma's silver and our wedding china (Ballet Ribbon by Waterford).

My mom always does such a nice job decorating/setting the table.

Normally I make the desserts, but this time I let my mom buy a "French Silk" and a berry pie from Shari's in Livermore.  They claim to make the same pies as Baker's Square, but their chocolate silk pie is definitely not the same.  I keep meaning to try making my own because all the imitations I've had just aren't even close.

The next morning my dad and I made crepes using a Nordic Ware crepe pan we'd found at the SPCA thrift store a few weeks before.  It was only like $4 and it sells on Amazon for over $50.  I don't have the dipping dish for the batter, but a soup plate worked well enough.  Not well enough for my dad, however, so he made a template for one with a piece of cardboard.  His plan is to make one of the appropriate curve on his lathe.  It was definitely worth the $4 but not at full cost--I like my normal crepe pan better, which I adopted from a cookware orphanage (i.e., my parents' pantry).
Me and my fancy new kitchen toy!

My dad loves Swedish crepes and he recalls having them with cardamom powdered sugar dusted on top--so he used the mortar and pestle to make some.  I didn't have any lignon berry jam so we used plum jam and lemon curd.  Sadly, my folks had to return to Livermore early that afternoon but we wish they could have stayed longer.
Crepe breakfast!

Grandma and Eddie spent a lot of time reading together.

In the days following Christmas, we hung around the house mostly.  My Picasa auto-upload phone pictures remind me that we went to Joe's Crab Shack to use up some BOGO coupons we'd gotten when we "donated" money to a charity back in September when the Whitneys were visiting.  At the time of purchase the waitress had said we could use both coupons at the same time if we needed to--but of course it wasn't quite that simple.  We were able to get our waitress to split our table into two tickets without much trouble.  So from two coupons, we ended up with three adult entrees an an order of crab nachos.  One of the entrees was a small steak and sides, which we just took home.  The steak turned into two batches of cook su, the broccoli turned into left-over-Christmas-ham quiche, and the chickens enjoyed the rice.

The waitress wrote silly things on our bibs.  Eddie, being a "bigger boy" as he calls himself, refused to wear a baby bib.  Haha, I love what she wrote on his!
Dave made me take this picture and send it to our college friend with a quote from Super Troopers. Prav was a good sport and texted me back with the next line from the movie. 
I hope everyone had a great holiday, too!