Friday, January 1, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The Christmas season started early in Irvine with Ava's visit to Duck the Halls where she got to hang out with Wild Wing dressed up as Santa.
After Thanksgiving, we picked out our tree and Ava got to decorate it (at least the lower branches).
It wouldn't be the Christmas season without sweets, and Ava enjoyed decorating (and eating) cookies, and making gingerbread houses with her friends. 
Santa made his annual trip to Irvine, and Ava was lucky enough to see him in person along with her playgroup friends.
Ava made a trip to Torrance where she walked with Grammy and Poppy to see all the wonderful Christmas lights.
The first week of winter break was spent in Oakland visiting Grandma and Grandpa.
Taking a trip to the City, Grandma and Grandpa took Ava to see the San Francisco Ballet's performance of (what else?) The Nutcracker.
Christmas Eve was spent at church where cousin Henry was the star of the Christmas Pageant, and then visiting Auntie Hannah, Uncle Rob, and cousins Gil and Henry.
The evening was capped off by Grandpa's reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
Ava must've been pretty good in 2015 as Santa, and Ava's friends and family, gave her some wonderful gifts.
The Christmas celebrations continued back home with a celebration with Grammy and Poppy.
To cap off the holiday festivities, Ava had a sleepover at a friend's house for New Year's Eve before spending New Year's Day at the beach where she spotted her first dolphin of the year.
Here's to a 2016 filled with laughter, learning, and more adventures!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of the Central Valley

People often turn up their nose at the vast swaths of farmland in between Southern California and the Bay Area, but there are actually lots of fun places to stop and visit in the Central Valley.

Heading up on our usual route up (The) 5, we stopped at Harris Ranch, which is the largest beef producer and ranch in the Western U.S., and the birthplace of many racehorses including Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome.  Ava had a tasty tri-tip lunch, and we enjoyed the country store and holiday decorations.
On the way back, we took State Route 99 (formerly known as the "Golden State Highway" or "The Main Street of California").  Our first detour was to Hilmar, home of the Hilmar Cheese Company.  Hilmar allows you to look into the cheese factory from windows on the second floor, and had lots of great exhibits for kids of all ages - not to mention cheese samples a cafe serving grilled cheese, cheese soup, and other cheesy treats.
Going off the beaten path, we ended up at Buchanan Hollow Nut Company, where we sampled locally grown almonds and (of course) purchased some to take home with us. 
Just off the highway in Kingsburg is the Sun-Maid raisin plant which has a fantastic market selling lots of dried fruits and nuts you can't find in stores.  More importantly, it's the site of the world's largest box of raisins (12' high!), which was once filled with 16,500 pounds of raisins.
Staying off the main highway, and travelling past plenty of ranches and small farms, we ended up in the quaint town of Hanford.  Escaping the cold and the stench of cattle brought in by the winds, we had a real treat at Superior Dairy Products Company, which makes its delicious ice cream in-house and serves ginormous portions.
Ava couldn't come close to finishing her one-scoop sundae, and Abby and Chris hardly made a dent in their three-scoop banana split.

The last stop of the day (and our main event) was at the Rabobank Arena to check out Bakersfield's new AHL team.  The AHL is just a step below the NHL and the Condors are the top affiliate for the Edmonton Oilers.
Ava got to meet Baby Cal, one of the Condors' three mascots.
We enjoyed a high scoring Bakersfield win including two goals from defenceman Brad Hunt, who was called up to Edmonton the next day.
The next morning we started at a coffeeshop for breakfast.  Ava's feast consisted of a Mickey Mouse shaped pancake with whipped cream, mini-M&Ms, bacon, and eggs. 
After a pitstop at the outlet mall, Ava curled up into a ball to catch up on sleep as we drove home. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fall Frenzy

Ava has thoroughly enjoyed going back to school and becoming a third-grader.  
School remains fun and Ava's love of reading continues to blossom.  Her eyes are fine but she sometimes likes to read wearing fake glasses.


Ava's extracurricular activities continue including meetings, projects, and trips with her Girl Scout troop.  They recently made animal toys and donated them to the Irvine Animal Care Center where they took a tour and learned all about pet adoption.  For those of you looking for a pet, the IACC offers adoptions seven days a week and has a special "Home for the Holidays" adoption fair on December 6.

While Ava doesn't have any pets at home, she sure has a lot of Beanie Boos, and she gets to play with her tortoise Divot when she visits Grammy and Poppy.
Other than Christmas, Ava's favorite holiday is Halloween.  Not only did she get to carve pumpkins, but she got to trick or treat at both Disneyland and in our own neighborhood.
Thanksgiving isn't too shabby either as Ava loves cranberry sauce and is able to help more and more in the kitchen. 
Ava has been able to spend time with cousins in both Northern and Southern California this fall, some of whom are more enthusiastic than others when it comes time to take pictures.
Ava still has time for friends - after school, on the weekends, and when distant friends come to visit.
With Christmas quickly approaching Ava better be on her best behavior as Santa is watching.  Check in next time to see how she does.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Campeones, Campeones! Ole, Ole, Ole!

This fall Ava's entire team returned for Icebreakers 2.0.  Despite facing injury and illness, the Icebreakers ran the table and finished as regular season champions going undefeated in all 9 games.  In the post-season tournament the Icebreakers made it to the finals before losing a heart-breaker 1-0.  Most importantly, the Icebreakers played with heart, determination, and good sportsmanship, and had fun doing so.
For their efforts, the team was presented with "Champions" t-shirts at their year-end party.  The girls are looking forward to one final go-round this fall at the La Jolla Rec All-Star Tournament before re-teaming in the spring for Icebreakers 3.0.