Monday, December 30, 2013

Bicoastal Love

We're baaaack!!

We had a fun-filled week with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and even a few friends.  The kids got too many presents, as usual, and ate too much sugar.  They were in heaven.

Off to San Francisco!

First stop was The Dickens Fair.  It's become a somewhat annual thing for our family.  They recreate a Dickens-era London complete with shops and pubs and street urchins.  Locals really get into it, costumes, accents, and never breaking character.

 Charles Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol

 Father Christmas was there (or as the kids said, "The REAL Santa")

We were treated to a delicious cracked crab dinner by our good buddies, the McGilpins, back in our old 'hood.  Their house is a favorite due in large part to the trapeze in the living room.

I met up with my buddy Mary for a coffee date and some good old-fashioned girl talk.  We all met up with Alyssa and family halfway between SF and Davis at a delicious seafood restaurant overlooking the Crockett Bridge.  They provided binoculars for the kids to look out to the bay.  The kids played games as the grown-ups caught up and drank beers.

On Christmas Eve we headed north to Twain Harte to spend Christmas with Grandma and my niece Robin and her beautiful family.  Ella woke up at 2:30am on Christmas morning and waited patiently until 6am to wake up her parents.  

 Santa delivered his annual Christmas Eve pajamas, including a matching nightie for Kit.

They made out like bandits.

We were even treated to a Christmas night violin concert by my talented great-nieces, Starry and Heather.  Autumn received an electric violin for Christmas (I'd never even heard of such a thing!).  But she didn't bring it to Grandma's so we got an acoustic concert.

After Christmas we took the long way home, stopping first at my sister Linda's house which is always a favorite for the kids.  She has sheep, goats, chickens and roosters, many dogs and cats and even two families of peacocks!

And another stop at Uncle Jack's house in Sebastopol (where Kevin and I got married 10+ years ago) before heading back to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Millbrae.  

After Kevin's sister Maxine and her family made it home from celebrating Christmas in Minnesota, we had our Skaggs family Christmas.  Again, the kids were completely spoiled.

They had a great two days running around the property with their cousins Rowan and Piper, discovering new trees to climb and swimming in the pool.  Yes, in December.

Three-quarters of Team Skaggs were very, very sad to leave California.  Holden cried the morning we had to leave and Ella and Kevin moped the entire flight back to New York.  But I have to say, I just feel so, so lucky.  We have the best of both worlds.  We get to spend time with family in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world.  We still own our home there and have so many lifelong friends.  But we also get to hop back to our home in the most exciting city in the world and continue with our life filled with incredible culture, amazing food and daily discoveries.

Who could ask for more?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Flower Power

This week, the last week of school before Christmas break, was filled with class parties, sing-a-longs, and dances.  We're off to California at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  If we're not able to see you, have a wonderful holiday and wishing you and your families much peace and happiness in the new year.

Ella's Mexican dance performance -


Holden's "Publishing Party" (where the kids share what they've written with their parents) -


Playing Ella's homemade multiplication game (for extra credit), Flower Power -


My contribution to the class parties -


Ella's class holiday party -


End of the year school Sing-A-Long (also Ella's chorus holiday concert) -


And the elf has even made a few appearances -


Happy holidays, people!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Golden Ticket

It was such a jam-packed weekend (especially since it was the only weekend in December that we weren't going to be in California) that I'm going to do this post mostly as photos because if I tried to write about everything that we squeezed in you would all see how long this post was and probably decide that you'd rather go back to checking Facebook than actually read the whole thing.  So I'll try to summarize with pictures so as not to lose you.

First, a quick blurb on cooking.  I made these sweet yums for a dinner party at Maeve's family's house on Friday night.  Thank you Pinterest!

As I was trying to cut these and they were falling apart, I was reminded of the funniest blog post I saw once about failed Pinterest attempts...hilarious.

The kids also worked on a gingerbread house (but ended up eating most of the decorations).


Anyway, we woke up Saturday to the biggest snow storm we've had so far and our backyard was entirely covered (and getting more filled by the minute) with snow.  The kids got to play out there and build their very own snowman while I sat in my cozy pajamas, reading and drinking tea on the couch.  Heaven.

Pretty sad attempt at their first snowman.

While trapped inside all day we decided to take part in a nationwide campaign embraced by President Obama and featuring free tutorials by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft titan Bill Gates that are designed to get U.S. students interested in computer science.  It is called Hour of Code and it was a really fun hour for the kids of learning to "code", or write in a computer language.  All we had to do was go to the website and let the kids have at it.  They didn't need our help at all and learned the basics of coding using Angry Bird mazes and zombies.  The original creators of the campaign had hoped to reach 1 million kids last week and as of this writing they are nearing 17 million.  Amazing.

Saturday night was magical for the kids.  The local Jewish Community Center had a Kids Night Out called Wonkavision...the entire night was Willy Wonka themed, complete with chocolate fountains and a scavenger hunt that spanned the entire 7 floor building for 3 Golden Tickets.  The kids had an amazing 3 hours while Kevin and I enjoyed 3 quiet hours catching up over wine, eating at our local Italian hole-in-the-wall.

Trying to get home in an insanely windy snowstorm.

The storm had stopped on Sunday so we used our only weekend day left in New York City during the holiday season to try to pack in as many iconic New York City Christmas things as possible...

First stop, Santaland at Macys on 34th Street:

Writing letters to Santa at the Official Santa Mailbox

Then we walked the length of 5th Avenue to see all the high-end stores' windows all made up for the holidays.

 Lines of people along Saks Fifth Avenues windows.

We ducked out of the cold and into the St. Regis hotel to taste a Bloody Mary in the bar where it was invented, King Cole Bar.  Also of note is the giant Maxfield Parrish mural behind the bar.


The kids only asked for one thing each from Santa - a basketball for Holden and a Build-A-Bear for Ella.  After the kids left the room, Santa held me back and gave me a gift card to get the kids Build-A-Bears at the nearby workshop.  He thought it would be more fun for them to build them themselves than to get them already assembled on Christmas morning.


In case you're new to Build-A-Bear, it's a workshop where you choose the exterior of your "bear", fill it with stuffing (and a heart, a music box, scent...all at additional costs...) and then choose their clothes and accessories.  It can get expensive.  The kids were pretty shocked that their Christmas wish got fulfilled so quickly.  Thanks, Santa!

Even the library lions, Patience and Fortitude were in the holiday spirit.

The holidays in New York City wouldn't be complete without a walk through Rockefeller Center,


or a trip to the American Girl Doll store...

Luckily, Ella was so thrilled with her Build-A-Bear that she didn't ask for a thing on her first trip to the Mecca of 8-year-old girls.  Although she did add to her Christmas list wish.

And because Team Skaggs never leaves well enough alone, we had to make a last stop by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see their Christmas tree.

Ella got to show Kevin and Holden the art that her class studied a couple weeks ago on their field trip to the Met.

And Holden and Ella recognized a bridge from home.

Our whirlwind holiday season in New York City was a success but we're sure looking forward to a warmer Christmas in California.