Thursday, December 5, 2013


What am I thankful for? My family. I am very lucky. Now, if I stop to think about this, I am lucky for many members of my family and grateful for them all. This Thanksgiving, we spent time with part of the family. 11 adults, 2 children and a newborn. But, I am smart enough to be thankful for more. And, because it is the place I am in my life, my focus is admittedly on my children at this point as they continue to grow. Still, I try not to forget others in my family and try not to neglect my wife too much either. Lately, Tami and I are extremely lucky to get a couple of minutes together to act like compassionate adults and try to catch up on conversation. So often I am burning my candle at both ends- one end to keep up with my new job and the other end to ignore my unfinished work as I spend time with my kids. So often Tami is burning the candle at both ends and the middle as she is taking care of our children, half the owner/operators of a bilingual preschool, and full time graduate student. Still, we manage to love each other.

 We had Thanksgiving at our house this year. Delicious.

 Baby Layla was the star of the night. Beautiful Layla. Adorable.

Ana got to hold Baby Layla with Aunti Tia's help. Ana was quite excited to do so.

Enzo got to hold Baby Layla with Mami's help. He was excited, too. Especially as he had thought his chance was after Ana's but Layla decided she was desperately in need of some food before Enzo's turn and Enzo had to play for a wile before he got to hold her.

And then they both got some time again.

Babies.... they rejuvenate those around them.

 For the second year, the bug was in the Niles Festival of Lights Parade. I don't remember how many lights I used last year but this year I used all of those plus 850 new lights that I bought plus the new multi light star for the tree that Tami bought. Pictures do not do justice to how much this car stands out in the night. Enzo and I again drove the bug with the music coming from the large speaker mounted on the rear outside rack that Aunti Tia's dancers danced to along the parade. We placed a real tree on top of the roof rack again. Ana walked the parade with Tami along side the dancers. It was fun.

In the staging area, filling up on some late night snacks of rice cakes and crackers before the parade starts.

 Here the dancers are getting ready in the staging area.

Still in the staging area, we watch the warm up out the windows.

After the parade we parked in the end-of-parade lot. It is interesting how many people come up to the bug to take pictures with it.  It is a cool bug and some people definitely notice it on the streets but it is still really interesting how many people will pose in front of it when it is covered in lights for a photo.

One thing about having thousands of lights wrapped around a bug is that the majority of Christmas house decorations is already done at that point. With Santiago's help, I ran a strip of lights around the house and then plugged the bug's lights into it. Voila! House decorated.
Our house decorated. We took the house lights and ran a strip across. Then ran a strip to the flagpole which wound down and then plugged into the Christmas tree that had been on top of the bug in the parade. Another strip then ran to the bug instead of, as it was in the parade, run through a power inverter plugged into the car battery. The next day, Enzo helped with the flashlight as I set and plugged in an auto timer so that the lights come on and go off every night automatically. I do love the lights. So I set them to also come on for a couple of hours in the morning so that I see them when I leave for work. They look great.

Also great about that night we set up the lights? Santiago was there, as was Melanie, Phyllis, Hun and Don, because Tami invited Melanie and Phyllis over to make tamales. Yuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm. The great thing about tamale making is that, if you have corn chips, as we did, you can eat the turkey tamale and chili sauce filling with chips all night as they are being made and, at the end of the process, you still get to eat delicious tamales!

 Thanksgiving means four days of no work and more time for the family. It also meant a few hours where I got to go out for a ride. Cool thing is that Nathan was going to go for a ride too so we got some riding and social time in.

And, the last note for today. Tami continues her Christmas countdown that she started a few years ago. Each day of December the kids take a turn pulling a note out of the numbered pocket on Santa's beard and we do something special. On 12/1 the note said dance party. So simple, right? No big deal? The kids loved it!!! We put on music and danced for several songs. The kids were still talking about it the next day when I picked them up from school. Day 2 was read a special book with Santa in it. We read The Polar Express. 12/3 was make snowflakes. Ana fell asleep early but Enzo had a great time making them with Mami, Tata, and me. He decorated a wall in the house with the results. 12/4 was drink hot chocolate. Or, as the kids say, hot-hot-Hot-----Hot-Chocolate! Because, you know, they have seen The Polar Express a bagillion times. I look forward to seeing what today's special treat is.