Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Musical

Ruslana had a Christmas musical at her school last week.  It was absolutely precious.  It featured all of the kids in her school--grades K-6--but of course Ruslana was the star to me ;-).

Here's the singer ready to go:

Levi giving Ruslana a hug for good luck
Ruslana, Levi, and Mama
Levi went crazy when he saw Ruslana come out on stage.  He pointed, clapped, and cheered.  It was seriously adorable.  He loves his big sister so much! 
"That's my sister!"

She had quite the audience cheering her on: 
Grandpa and Levi 
Levi, Grandma, and Daddy

Aunt Laura and Levi (and my moms hands as proof she was there too :)
After the children sang, Ruslana came and sat with us and "Santa" handed out a gift for each child. 
Ruslana and daddy
Ruslana got a Rainbow Loom, which she's had a lot of fun with!
Listening to classic Christmas songs and watching the kids in various skits was a great way to kick off the holiday season.  We are so thankful for her school and all of the Christian based teaching they provide. 

Celebrate Good Times...Come On!

Well, it looks like what they say is true.  Time really does fly when you're having fun!  So much fun that I've failed to update the blog for three months.  Whoops!  Let me fill you in on the highlights.

We had a wonderful halloween!  Ruslana was In-n-Out french fries, and Levi was an In-n-Out worker.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think they looked pretty darn cute.
Ruslana, In-n-Out Fries, with a ketchup packet for a treat bag
Levi, the In-n-Out Worker, at your service
And not to leave the fur-babies out, Scarlett was "Animal Style," Minnie was salt, and Raider was pepper.  The cats were thrilled about their costumes, as you can see by their expressions below: 

Naturally, we had to have dinner at In-n-Out.  The diners and workers went crazy over the kids.   Everyone wanted to take pictures of them.  I felt like we were famous and the paparazzi was on us!
After dinner we went trick-or-treating.  I'm pretty sure we boosted In-n-Out sales that night because everyone said how much they wanted to go get fries after they saw Ruslana!

Grandma was able to join us for the festivities--yippee! 
To top it off, the kids won a costume contest.  Halloween 2014--success.


Our families have a lot of birthdays in November.  We celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday, my dad's birthday, and my sister's birthday.  Party Hardy!
Ruslana, Melanie (birthday girl), Levi, Aunt Jacqueline 
James, Laura (birthday girl), Ruslana, Dad (birthday boy), Levi


Mark had a couple of days off at Thanksgiving, which made me very thankful!  We were able to stay a few days with our families and got in a lot of family time.  And Bakers burritos :-)

Basketball star in the making
Mini Picasso 
Levi and Grandpa
Aunt Debra and Ruslana
Ruslana and her cousin Alex
Uncle Matt and Aunt Kristin
Daddy with the kids
Uncle Shawn, Cousin Cruz, and Levi
Levi playing away at his very own "kid table"
Grandma teaching Levi how to drive
And to Melanie (who made the entire Thanksgiving meal), Aunt Laura, Aunt Erin, Uncle Cody, and a few of the cousins--I'm sorry, I don't know how we missed getting your picture! :-)

Well, there you have it folks.  Our Halloween, Birthday bashes, and Thanksgiving rolled into one post.  We had a fun and eventful October and November and our December is shaping up to be the same way.  Stay tuned for more good times!

Friday, September 19, 2014

12 year old in San Francisco

We spent last weekend in San Francisco celebrating Ruslana's 12th birthday. Yep, you read that  right--our girl is 12 years old!!!  To honor this special occasion, I'll give you a run down of our trip.  But be forewarned, there's so many adorable photos you just might die of cuteness overload ;-).

Alright, here we go!  Get your seat belts on, our journey is beginning.  Here's me and the kids ready for take-off:
Our first stop in the city was La Taqueria, a restaurant that was recently hailed as home to the best burrito in the United States.  As a burrito loving family, we of course had to see if this place was worth all the hype.  Our take?  Yeah, they were really good.  Here's Mark and Ruslana enjoying their delicious burritos:

Since we were already in the Mission district for lunch, we decided to swing by Mission San Francisco de Asîs.  Ruslana enjoyed seeing a mission in person since she studied them in school last year.

Later that night we went out for pizza and walked around the city.  We impulsively climbed up to Coit Tower.  Phewwee that was a climb!  But the view made it worthwhile.  Or at least that's what we tried to tell ourselves.

Oh, and how could I forget.  A true highlight of my life, witnessing a nighttime segway tour.  The flashing helmet lights were a great touch.  If only we could've gotten in on this earlier: 

On Saturday morning we took a cable car down to Fisherman's Warf.  As expected, Ruslana loved standing up and hanging outside of the car.

After we grabbed some fish and chips for lunch (can you tell we like to eat on vacation? #sorrynotsorry), we took the ferry over to Alcatraz island.  
Ruslana on her very first boat ride

Levi had a BLAST walking around the island.  He looked like quite the jail bird trying to escape! 

After our time at Alcatraz, we headed back to the city for the trips main event (yes, even better then witnessing the segway tour!).   Remember "Marjorie," Ruslana's best friend that we raised money for (read previous post here)?  Well, that sweet little girl, whose real name is Tyna, made her way home to America in March and for Ruslana's birthday we planned a reunion.  And to make things even funner, Tyna had no idea that we were coming.  Check out Ruslana surprising Tyna at dinner: 

After that moment, these two were inseparable.  And it was precious.  They picked up right where they had left off, only now they were both speaking English!
Here are the girls with their siblings.  Their FAMILY!  Something just a year and a half ago these two couldn't have even fathomed.  God is so awesome.

Next up our families headed to Ghiradelli for an early birthday celebration.  They made Ruslana a special birthday sundae and even came out and sang to her.  It was a lot of fun! 
After we finished our dessert, Tyna came with us to our apartment and the girls had a slumber party.  Since they grew up sleeping in the same room at the orphanage, they were very excited to share a room once again.  I let Ruslana open one of her birthday gifts early--a "sleepover kit" containing a pair of BFF PJ's, a bag of chips, and a Snickers bar for each girl, as well as a travel Trouble board game for them to play. 

Ready for bed in their matching BFF PJ's
After a fun filled night, Ruslana was able to wake up on her birthday with her best friend right by her side! It doesn't get much better than that.  We went to breakfast, then took the BART back to meet Tyna's family. 
After the girls said their goodbyes (and promised to Face Time soon!), our family headed to the Raider game. 
There's not too much I'm going to say about the game.  Maybe taking a one year old, well heck, any age person to a Raider game in Oakland isn't the world's greatest idea.  But, we created a memory and Ruslana loved seeing the game up close.  After the game we hopped on a plane and flew home.  

We had so much fun on our mini-vacation spending time together as a family, celebrating our daughters last birthday as a preteen (yikes) and seeing Ruslana be reunited with her very best friend on American soil.  It will surely be a weekend that we will never forget!