Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lee Pops big 71st birthday party

Grandpa Lee celebrated his 71st birthday on April 12. To say it has been a rough year for our family is putting it mildly. In late Feb of this year after weeks of illness that would not improve he finally had an MRI of the brain and found out he had a brain tumor. I drove him to Los Robles hospital after learning the news at his primary doctors office and called Eric who met me in the ER. He was admitted to the hospital that night and underwent surgery three days later on March 3rd to remove as much of the tumor as possible. 
The type of tumor he has is called Glioblastoma Multiforme. It is a grade four cancerous tumor. His is located on the right side of his brain which is the "good" side because it does not control things like speech or movement. It is however important for memory, impulse control, and personality etc. The surgeon removed as much of the tumor as possible without damaging parts of the brain necessary for living.
He did well after surgery and after one week in the hospital and one week in a rehab center he was able to come home. He is still very unsteady walking and uses a walker to assist him now. 

After Dad's surgery his brother Stewart suffered a major heart attack and it was miraculous that he survived surgery and recovered in the hospital. Devastatingly, the very evening he returned home from the hospital he suffered another heart attack and passed away. Our very large family had never suffered a loss such as this and needless to say it was a horrible time for everyone. My dad's birthday happened to fall on a Saturday this year and was just one week after his brother's funeral. We thought about canceling his party but if we learned anything this year it was to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones because life is all too short. We invited all the family, friends, and neighbors to a park in Thousand Oaks and ordered tons of food, even a bouncy house for the kids.
It was a beautiful day, not too hot, which is lucky for southern California.
Joel flew in from Oregon and surprised Dad for his birthday. It was the best birthday present ever.
I think it counted as Mom's birthday present too.
We were missing Tonya and Owen & Charlie but they had all just come at spring break for a week.
My best friend Kristen came down from Northern California. We grew up together and my parents are very close to her as well.
Luckily Aunt Sonja was visiting at the time and got to be with us as well.
Gram and Jenny's twins, Emmy and Shea.
Rachel's family just loves Dad and wouldn't miss the party for the world. They even had to cancel a camping trip to be there.
Aunt Carol and her roomate and care giver Chris. They even got in on the bouncy castle fun too.
It was a wonderful day to enjoy family and relax after the stressful months before.
So many family members drove for hours to be there and it meant so much.
Ben and his BFF Jacob.
We ordered tons of food from Chipotle and set up a buffet. Dad said the prayer before the meal.
There was plenty of happy faces at lunch. Love little Quinn and Luke!
Dad had such a great time and that is the most important thing of all.
It wouldn't be a birthday without cake would it? Dad got his favorite pineapple upside down cake with a seven and one candle. It was a breezy day and it was hard to even keep the candles lit.
Lily was more than happy to help him blow them out.
Three cheers for the birthday boy!
I think you can call that a success.
Quite the crowd.
Little Maya and Dylan went for cupcakes with sprinkles.
Krista, Judy and Shirley were there to help celebrate.
What a gorgeous picture of Gram and Krista.
Mikey is always the life of the party.
Best Bro's.
The Peterson crew in attendance. This isn't even the whole family if that tells you how large we are!
Grammy and her kids Patsy, Penny, Sonja, and Dad.
Of course Carol likes her share of the spotlight and she and Dad are best buds.
The cousins had to get a little wild and crazy, like old times.
Here is a short video of Dad's prayer before the meal.
Special thanks go to cousin Jenny for taking all these wonderful photos for us. This day was special for so many reasons and it was the last time we were all together as a family before Grandma became gravely ill and passed away in May. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Farm Show

Lily's Kindergarten class put on a farm show for the school and for parents. They have been learning all about farms and animals for weeks. They even went on a field trip to a local farm and picked produce. They grew beans and learned about plant life cycles. The teachers did a great job organizing 60 five and six year olds on stage! Phew!
 Lily was a frog in the play and had a line to speak. She said, "we frogs are enamored with hopping."
 They had little songs that went with each animal group and motions with each song too.
The ducks were awfully cute too!
 She was one proud frog!
Check out the cows.
At the end of the show they sang an adorable song about moving on to 1st grade. Here is a small clip of the song. It brought many a tear to the moms in the audience. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Taste of the Valley

Vert Resp '14  3

Last weekend we drove up North to Vacaville to visit with our friends Kristen and Nate and ditch the kids with a babysitter to attend a wine tasting event.
I have been to this event several times in years past and it has been too long so we bought tickets back in January and made it happen!
We started out at Hanna winery then hit up Alexander Valley Vinyards. This is the entrance to their cave.
 Each winery had food pairings to go with their wines.
 The happy hosts.
 We headed to White Oak Vinyards next, mainly based on their food offerings. This one blew the others out of the water.
 The weather could not have been more beautiful.
 This one ended in the tasting room with Merlot and chocolate truffles. Nate did well with this artsy shot.
 We managed to beg another couple to take a photo of all of us in front of the fountain.
 By this point we were slowing down but wanted to hit a couple more wineries since we wouldn't be able to make it for the second day of the event.
Hawkes had a beautiful shady patio and live band. We relaxed and enjoyed ourselves and made it to two more wineries Medlock Ames which ended up being a favorite for its organic wines and beautiful garden and then Simi winery. 
We ended in Healdsburg for an early supper before driving back to Vacaville to rescue the babysitter after 10 hours with four kids plus her own one year old! They were all in one piece and quite happy! Too bad we had to leave the next morning and make the boring drive home. Next year we will stay longer and make a real holiday out of it! 

Mothers Day and more

We celebrated Mother's day this year with brunch at our house. The bummer about going out for Mother's day is crowds and poor service. We have no crowds at our house, the service, however, I cannot comment on. ;)
I woke to hand made cards and a spa certificate. All a mom could ask for really!
 Oh, and a HUGE bouquet of flowers.
 I made all the Moms (including myself, ha) a flower pot with pictures of their kids and a succulent plant.
 The table decorations were hand made by Lily and Gemma. They included a special party hat for each mom. We had delicious food, including chocolate covered strawberries.
It wouldn't be a celebration without a signature cocktail,  rhubarb fizz. Prosecco and rhubarb syrup. All I can say is I should have bought more prosecco!
The girls were ready to dig in before any of the guests arrived.
Of course once everyone arrived, we forgot to take pictures. After brunch we spent the afternoon outside in the lovely weather.
 Grandpa Lee arrived after his church and joined us for a bit.
 After Eric, Rach and Benji left and Grandpa Lee went to take a nap, the ladies sat down to watch Frozen together.
 At least I managed to get one photo with my lovely girls!
 The following week was Lily's spring chorus concert at school. It was just the Kindergarden chorus.
They sang several songs from the conejo valley concert and some other favorites. I have never seen such a bunch wiggle worms on stage before. Mr. La Guardia is a saint for leading these kids every week at rehearsals!! 
There were hand motions to most songs and they did a great job despite the wiggles and it being bed time.
 Next year is junior chorus and it will be fun to see the change (or maybe lack of change) in the kids!