We made it!

Anyone who thinks it never gets cold in Southern California, the top picture below was taken during our drive to Tahoe. This is north of Los Angeles in the Tehachapi's mountain range. I-5 through this area is called, "the grapevine" as the north and southbound lanes criss-cross each other as you climb and descend from 100ft to 4500ft in 45 miles. This was our first bathroom break at a McDonald's. It was about 38 degrees and blowing 40-50 mph gusts = cold dash from the car!!

We made it almost 600 miles in 8 hours and 15 with just two potty/gas stops, from San Diego to the rental house in Soda Springs, just west of Donner Summit and about 25 minutes from Truckee, CA, and 45 minutes from Squaw Valley and the ski resorts of the greater Lake Tahoe basin.

Today is a snow fun day, with snow play, sledding, and Erin Project stuff on tap. Later today, weather permitting, we're scheduled to attend a party at the parents of a good friend's in Incline Village, NV. Max hated cold weather. He never liked the snow, though both times that he was in it he was sick as a dog and so who does like snow when they're sick? But we feel Max's presence with us this trip and like to think that Max has delivered the awesome snow scenes we will experience this week, with fresh snowfall forecast for everyday through Christmas.


You have to ask for the order

We are off to Tahoe in the morning. Lots of snow has fallen in the past week, and we are going to one of the areas that gets the most snow, so we should be set for many snowball fights and snowmen building. Hannah wants to build headless snowmen as she's seen in her Calvin & Hobbes books. I think that sounds fun.

I will also take Nic to downtown Truckee and we'll watch some trains go by, much like I did with Max in 2005 when we were in Tahoe during the summer and Max's magical year of cancer-free (or so we thought) life.

I so would like to be snuggling with Max in his bed right now. Just in case 'ol St. Nick is reading this, you may bring us Max for Christmas. We haven't given away any of his important stuff, and he has all his clothes still here. Just want to make sure you knew that. Though it might sound obvious, I wanted to make sure my wishes are clear. Bring us Max back.


Happy Holidays

I've tried twice already to write a holiday blog post and failed miserably. Tonight I sat down to write my nephew's wife an email reply. When I had finished I realized it was the post I've been trying to write.

Hi Bree,

Thank you for the nice note, as always.

Hannah still believes in Santa - but I think this is probably the last year. She asked me the other day, "Mom, do you believe?" I picked up a copy of "The Santa Clause" for her to watch this year. I think it'll get her through this Christmas, at least. Next year, 5th grade, I think we're doomed -- too many nay-sayers. She's asked for a video camera (our idea) and game and the Clone Wars movie, which we're going to have put on her iPod and we've purchased a cord that connects the iPod to your TV so you watch it both places. (Andy keeping us abreast of all technological advances...).

Nicky actually spoke with Santa two times (would not sit on his lap, but stood next to him!). He wants a BIG present. What ends up inside the BIG present is at Santa's discretion which caused Andy and I more problems than you'd think. After many hours searching the internet and trying to make a decision I ended up at ToysRus buying several smaller things to fit in one box. Cars movie stuff and a pretend toaster and microwave with food. He still loves that stuff and the crazy micro actual has a working turn table, light and buttons. Best $10 I've ever spent!

What are Katie and Jack getting this year? Is anyone flying out there?

We're leaving this weekend for Tahoe/Donnor. Already the snow is falling there and I know we're going to have a great time. We'll pack Max's box up and take him with us just like we did for Thanksgiving. This is definitely a tough time of year without Max here. For a new tradition this Christmas we'll be putting personal notes in Max's stocking on Christmas Eve. Our standing tradition of Santa leaving a nutcracker for each of the kids will continue. We found a nutcracker dressed as an army-guy for Max.

As I'm writing this, I looked up to see a group photo flash on the big computer of the cookie baking we did several years ago! How funny - because I was going to mention that we missed you this weekend for this years bake-off. Between Gramma, Jenee and I we baked a crap-load of cookies. I have about 10 big tupperwares full. It was amazing what we churned out in four hours. (Double oven!) The kids even had a blast dipping pretzels in chocolate and sprinkling them with goodies. Good day all around, I just wish more of us could've been together. These cookies will be the perfect gift-from-the-heart as always to many friends.

You probably are in the loop that we opted out of the name-draw this year. My heart just wasn't in it. I didn't want to go shopping. I didn't want to receive any presents. I told everyone that a present you could buy me for $50 isn't going to make a difference in my life. But spending time together would. In looking back at Max's short life with us, experiences are what makes memories and fill our hearts.

Our Christmas card this year...