Chambers Family 2013 Photo Book

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. 2013. Sigh. I’m two years behind (well, more like 14 months), but I finally did finish our 2013 family photo book. Without further ado, here it is:

Chambers Family 2013 Photo Book

Chambers Family 2013 Photo Book

I truly do love creating these photo books, even if they take me a long time to complete. It’s fun to look through our past in photos and remember all of the fun times we’ve experienced together. And 2013 sure was a fun year – lots of adventure, travel, and, of course, finding out that I was pregnant!

Now, on to the 2014 photo book…let’s hope that that one takes me fewer than 14 months to complete!

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Sunset Ocean-Front Dinner

Dan’s cousin, Glenn, from New Jersey, was in SoCal for a work sales conference and so we met up with him last Sunday night for dinner. He was staying at the absolutely beautiful Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes and we very much enjoyed watching the sun set from the terrace outside the lobby and walking around the amazing resort.

Sunset Family Photo

Sunset Family Photo

We ate dinner outside at Nelson’s, right next to the ocean, and had a great time catching up with Glenn, who we hadn’t seen in just over a year. It was so nice to have family in town and spend time with him!

Cousin Glenn Meets Vivian

Cousin Glenn Meets Vivian

Family Photo After Sunset

Family Photo After Sunset

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Vivian’s First Christmas

My Aunt Jane is appalled (as are my in-laws, I’m sure) that we don’t put up a Christmas tree. Or decorate our house for Christmas in any other way. But…we have never spent Christmas in our own house. That will change, starting next year, but this year, since we again had holiday travel plans, we skipped putting up a tree and instead flew to Ohio and stayed with my Mom, who put up a small, beautiful tree. So, Vivian did get to play underneath a Christmas tree and boy-oh-boy did she get to enjoy unwrapping the gifts below it.

Vivian spent her first Christmas in Ohio visiting with family and friends. She did great on the plane flights (her 4th set of flights in 8 months and her 2nd cross country!). Since we arrived in Ohio a few days before Christmas, we were able to visit with a few friends in the days leading up to the holiday. Dan and I even slipped out one evening without her to visit a friend at a local winery.

Visiting with Julie and Meeting Breeley

Visiting with Julie and Meeting Breeley

Night Out at the Winery with Britt and Jamie

Night Out at the Winery with Britt and Jamie

On Christmas Eve, per tradition, Mom made chicken noodle soup for dinner and we all (Mom, Dad, Matt, Anna, Tim, Uncle Lee, and us!) ate and then opened gifts. Dan and I met Dad, Matt, Anna, Tim, Aunt Jane, Uncle Kevin, Uncle Jim, Uncle Gerry, and Grandma at church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, while Mom stayed home and watched Vivian.

We spent Christmas day at Uncle Gerry’s with my entire Damschroder family, which is always a lot of fun.

Our Family on Christmas Day

Our Family on Christmas Day

The Whole Dam (and Fuzzy) Family

The Whole Dam (and Fuzzy) Family

Vivian Napping with Papa

Vivian Napping with Papa

Family Christmas Photo in Front of Tree (4 Days After Christmas!)

Family Christmas Photo in Front of Tree (4 Days After Christmas!)

The day after Christmas, Dad, Anna, Tim, Dan, Vivian, and I drove up to our cabin in New York. I grew up vacationing at this cabin and it was really special to take Vivian up there. Unfortunately, there was no snow there this year, but we did go over to the local ski resort, Peek n’ Peak, so that we could at least show Vivian [fake] snow. While there, we found a sled sitting by the lodge door, so Tim grabbed it and Dan gave Vivian her first ride in a sled – it was too cute!

Vivian Sledding

Vivian Sledding

Sledding Cutie

Sledding Cutie

Snow!

Snow!

Family Snow Picture

Family Snow Picture

While at the cabin, we, of course, visited with our Amish neighbors, ate dinner at the French Creek Tavern, and ate breakfast at Dutch Village Restaurant in Clymer.

Family Picture in Front of Cabin

Family Picture in Front of Cabin

When we got back to Ohio after our New York visit, we wrapped up our family visits and then flew back to California.

Snuggles with Nana

Snuggles with Nana

Visiting Great Grandma

Visiting Great Grandma

We had a wonderful Christmas and Vivian loved spending time with all of my family. I am a little sad to be back home and not have my Mom’s amazing help anymore, but I am also excited for everything that California has in store for us in 2015!

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Here Comes Santa

Vivian met Santa for the first time last weekend at the clubhouse at our new home community, Baker Ranch. It was great – there were no lines, we were allowed to visit with Santa as long as we wanted, it didn’t cost a dime, we were able to take as many of our own pictures as we wanted, Vivian was interested in Santa, and then, of course, Vivian realized that Santa is a very scary thing and she started crying.

Hmm...who is this Santa person?

Hmm…who is this Santa person?

Ah! I don't like him! Save me, Mama!

Ah! I don’t like him! Save me, Mama!

Too cute! We did get a nice family photo with Santa, though, too.

Family Photo with Santa

Family Photo with Santa

After visiting Santa, we ate doughnut holes and chocolate milk, went on a ride atop a fire truck (which Vivian was way more excited about than we expected she would be), and listened to carolers.

Vivian and Alexander Listening to Christmas Carolers

Vivian and Alexander Listening to Christmas Carolers

It was a lot of fun attending this event and watching Vivian’s reaction to Santa. We are so excited to be moving into our new home in this new community in 2015!

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Christmastime at the Happiest Place on Earth

The title of this post is a bit misleading because I definitely don’t think that Disneyland, with its high prices and long lines, is the happiest place on Earth, but that’s where we were last Saturday. Vivian’s been to Disneyland twice in her life – when she was 5 and 6 weeks old, I believe. Obviously, at those young ages, she wasn’t able to enjoy any of the Disney magic. Now that she’s 8 months old, though, we were excited to take her back to the parks because we knew that she would enjoy the lights, sounds, and activity. The parks were very busy, but we were able to take her on Flik’s FlyersHeimlich’s Chew Chew Train, and The Little Mermaid in California Adventure and “it’s a small world,” Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey in Disneyland. We especially enjoyed taking her on “it’s a small world” because it’s a long ride with lots of lights and singing – she was fascinated! We also had fun taking her on The Little Mermaid (even thought she’d already been on it) because Dan’s sings one of the songs from it to her.

The parks were decorated for the holidays and quite beautiful.

Familytime at Christmastime at Disneyland Main Street

Familytime at Christmastime at Disneyland Main Street

Despite all the busyness at the parks, we were happy to spend the day together and see Vivian’s growing interaction with the exciting world around her.

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Turkey Time!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. However, every year I manage to exhaust myself to the point of tears, thereby getting very little satisfaction out of Thanksgiving. I hope that after this year’s break down, I have learned my lesson. Time will tell…

After a nearly 9-hour drive the night before Thanksgiving, we arrived in Livermore at 1:30am. After unloading the car, unpacking, prepping for the following morning, nursing Vivian, and getting ready for bed, I had 3.5 hours to sleep before my alarm rudely woke me up. Early on Thanksgiving morning, I quietly snuck out of the house before anyone else was awake, got back into the car, strapped on my breast pump, and drove to Walnut Creek, about 30 minutes away. Then I ran 10K in the Forma Gym Turkey Trot, which follows my tradition of running turkey trot races on Thanksgiving morning (see here, here, and here). I enjoyed the race, but I ran it so slow. Slower than ever. Slower even than last year when I was 23 weeks pregnant. My final time was 1:11:39. But…I hadn’t run at all prior to this race in over three months. Although slow, I did prove to myself that less than 8 months after having a baby, I can run 6.2 miles without stopping. Slowly.

After finishing my race, I drove to Campbell, south of San Jose, and about 45 minutes away, to gas up the car and pick up some friends that were going to join us for Thanksgiving dinner.  Then it was back to Livermore to pump some more, shower, direct some cooking, and bake a pie. And have a nervous, exhausted breakdown. I sat down for a few minutes to eat and then was back up and in the kitchen scrubbing pots and pans and sweeping the floor while Dan drove our friends back to Campbell. At the end of the day, after nursing, bathing, and putting Vivian to bed, I could hardly wait to collapse in bed myself.

Our Happy Little Turkey

Our Happy Little Turkey

Friends on Thanksgiving

Friends on Thanksgiving

Family on Thanksgiving

Family on Thanksgiving

Friday was a new day, though! And Dan hung out with Vivian in the morning so I could rest a little longer. Whew!

Vivian Listens Intently to Her Daddy Playing the Piano

Vivian Listens Intently to Her Daddy Playing the Piano

We took a walk to downtown Livermore and then Dan and I got to see a movie (Horrible Bosses 2 – hilarious!) and taste some wine at Swirl on the Square (One Hope was being poured) and John Christopher Cellars. Grandma and Grandpa watched Vivian while we were out, which was very nice.

Wine Tasting on Date Night

Wine Tasting on Date Night

On Saturday, we relaxed inside while the weather outside was wonderfully gloomy and Fall-like. In the afternoon, we finally got off our butts and took Vivian (and Dan’s mom) wine tasting at McGrail Vineyards and Winery.

Wine Tasting with Vivian

Wine Tasting with Vivian

McGrail Vineyards and Winery

McGrail Vineyards and Winery

Our drive home on Sunday was so long and horrible that I won’t say anything else about it, except that we are never doing it with a baby ever again. On a more positive note, though, we did all arrive back home safely, and truly, that is what matters most.

Now, on to Christmas!

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A Ritzy Holiday Start

Dan chose our Saturday family activity last weekend and I chose our Sunday family activity. We went to The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel to watch their Christmas tree lighting ceremony. While there, we walked around the resort grounds and lobbies, drank free hot cocoa, and watched the sun set over the ocean. Finally, Santa arrived with his elves, the tree was lit, and “snow” (soap?) started falling. Vivian loved all the commotion and people and noise and we loved seeing her happy and excited!

Walking Around the Ritz

Walking Around The Ritz

First Family Christmas Photo

First Family Christmas Photo

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