Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Whole Lotta Christmas

       Well, we've got a whole lotta December happenings to share with you all. The past few weeks have been hectic with all the getting-ready-for-the-holidays mania. A bad cold virus swept through the Milam house this past week, which certainly sidelined us for a few day, but we've pushed on with the decorating, celebrating, baking, shopping, and wrapping. And quite frankly, I'm totally pooped. I'm glad that there is just one more week before the blessed day and before my to-do list gets to be a bit shorter. 
  The week after Thanksgiving we took full advantage of a day off together
to get lots of Holiday goodness done. First up was chopping down our tree.
For the 5th year in a row we opted to head into the woods to find our tree. 
This year we didn't venture too far from our house
 before we found a nice patch to choose from.
We found the tree in just a few minutes.
Definitely our quickest tree hunt to date. 
The cold temperatures were our biggest motivator. 
Don't be mislead by the bright sun, it was a very cold day.
Here's the beauty we settled on.
Okay, kidding.
Ours was of the much smaller variety.
Jon got to cutting while Nolan and I headed to the car to stay warm.
Just a few minutes later Jon had the tree in the back of  the truck,
and we were on our way home to get it trimmed!
The light snowfall so far this season
is starting to get people concerned 
but I don't mind one bit. 
Maybe we're having a dry December to make up for the snowy June we had this year.
The ground was dry and brown this year when we went out.
And here's what it looked like last year, 
when we chopped down our tree on December 5th.
After we got home, Jon and I got to trimming
while Nolan took a perfectly timed nap.
When he woke up our little elf was happy to discover a twinkling tree 
in what is normally his playroom.

Next up, we were off to see Santa.
We heard that Santa was going to be in downtown Tahoe City, 
so we bundled up and headed out. 
Santa was a friend (he organizes the Graeagle trip that we take each Fall).
Nolan stayed safe on my lap, 
so there were no waterworks with this Santa visit.
A photographer took a photo of all of us
(although we had a bit of sticker shock when we found out the price for this!), 
and it now sits framed on our Christmas mantle.
Three out of four looking at the camera ain't bad. 
This year I had high hopes for our Holiday card. 
Okay, I always have high hopes for our Holiday card.
I envisioned us, sitting on one of our bikes, riding through the snowy woods,
in some quirky playful sort of way.
So in late November, I wrangled our friend Lindy to come over
 and take some shots of us and in exchange we made them dinner.
We all headed up the hill
to a location in the woods that Jon and I had scouted earlier in the day,
and took some photos before we lost daylight.
Lindy worked some magic with the camera, 
but we were sadly reminded that we are not models.
No. Siree.
We are just regular old people, 
needing to take a cool photo. 
There were many outtakes.
Exhibit 1: Open mouth + Nolan looking at the ground.
Exhibit 2: We're so crazy and fun (not)+Nolan's shoe fell off.
Exhibit 3: closed eyes + odd face.
Luckily we found one that we were happy with,
so I got to ordering and putting ours together.
This is what my little workshop has looked like most of December.
I fit in a few minutes here and there during nap time to work
on some decorating projects too. 
I worked some magic on this old frame
(which was left for FREE in front of a neighbors house)
with some materials I already had at the house,
into a place to hang our incoming Christmas cards.
And I've definitely been doing lots of baking.
Our house runneth over with baked goods and chocolate!
We captured the traditional tears-on-santa's-lap pictures
at Jon's Meeks Bay holiday party. 
He wanted nothing to do with it!
What can I say? My kid's passionate.
Nolan did like Santa a bit more when he 
realized that Santa had given him a little goodie bag.
Oh, but that wasn't the end of our holiday tears!
On Saturday night, for the second year in a row we attended our 
friends baby friendly cookie exchange.
At the end of the night, we attempted the infamous group shot. 
My boy was the only one that didn't want to participate. 
He was off that couch in 5 seconds flat
(notice how all other babies sit quietly).
Jon gave it one more attempt with Nolan behind the couch, 
but that didn't go so well either.
Jon is working at a station on Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve-Eve 
this year, so our holiday plans are slightly up in the air. 
Not even sure yet when we'll be able to open our gifts!
When he gets off on Christmas morning, 
we'll be be throwing ourselves in the car and heading to the
Bay Area to celebrate with my family.
Here's to a Merry Christmas to you and yours!
I'll be back to share more pics from our holiday celebrations this year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Giving Thanks

       We have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes, it's hard to see it all through the fog of long hours, limited family time, and distant goals, but we are thank-to-the-full. We are warm, our bellies are full, we get to chase, play and tumble together, and our dog loves us unconditionally. So we're thankful for this journey and we're thankful for our healthy little family.
        Thanksgiving almost seems like the blink of an eye now that we're in the midst of the Christmas season but I didn't want to pass over it completely. 
We're certainly thankful for little cousins this year 
(and possibly a little jealous of their tame hair).
We're thankful for party dresses and  pony rides.
We're thankful for technology that keeps little 
minds busy nowadays.
And, we're thankful for cousins that share their crayons.

We're thankful for cousins that become besties.
Someday soon, these two are going to be trouble.
And we're thankful for sweet girls, 
and little boys that don't need shirts
(I swear he had a cute party shirt on,
but it got striped down during a feeding battle with mama).
In our house, Thanksgiving has always meant cake and gifts,
and I'm just now starting to realize that that isn't normal. 
We have  A LOT of birthdays to celebrate in November and early December,
and if I tried to list them all here, I would probably miss someone.
It's enough to make you bankrupt when paired perfectly
with the Christmas shopping season.
We're thankful for pictures with cousins.
Even though they may not be perfectly successful. 
But they tell a story.
Yes, mines the one front and center.
Jon says he gets his fiery personality from me,
but I don't know what he's talking about.
I'm thankful for a husband that is teaching me what it 
means to really work for what you want.
I'm thankful for the amazing kisses that my boy gives me.
I'm thankful that my little boy, runs to my big boy, when he comes in the door.
And I'm thankful that my four-legged guy is laying at my feet,
keeping me warm and cozy.

I may also be thankful that I'm a.l.m.o.s.t. done with my Christmas shopping.
I'll be back to share a little about how the Milams have been 
decking the halls and getting ready for Santa!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Caughlin Fire

       Thursday night it was windy in Tahoe. It was the kind of wind that woke you up in the middle of the night. The kind that made you think that trees might come crashing down. Luckily, when we get the chance, we are professional sleepers, so we were still able to get a good nights sleep. Early Friday morning however, Jon's radio went off. Reno was calling for additional assistance from departments in our area for the Pinehaven fire. It's not unusual for Jon's radio to go off, but it isn't often that we hear a call for an actual fire. Waiting to hear the stations respond to dispatch,  Jon and I grabbed his phone and looked up Reno news. Immediately we were shocked by images of a fire blazing. The Caughlin Fire (the fire was originally dubbed the Pinehaven fire, named after a street that it originated near, but it was later changed).
The fire supposedly started around 12:30am
in the foothills west of the City of Reno.
By the time we woke up, it was reported that the fire was over 400 acres,
and a few homes had burned.
Jon called his station to say that he was available,
and a few minutes later they called back and told him to get moving.
He was going to help.

I'm familiar with this area of Reno only because I got extremely lost one time
(when trying to find a medical office that specialized
 in ultrasounds while I was pregnant with Nolan), 
which took me on a very round-about and long drive.
As much as I dislike Reno, this area was pretty awesome.
It's quite mountainous, 
as it sits at the base of a range, 
and is made up of lots of winding neighborhoods.

I threw a couple of granola bars and a banana in a bag for Jon,
and he was out of our house in five minutes flat.
Throughout the day I followed the fire online
(and proceeded to bite off all of my nails), 
hearing from him only a couple of times via text.

There were plenty of images of devastation and intense flames.
The crazy wind continued in Tahoe
throughout the morning, and was predicted to continue until about 4:00pm.
When I let Blue out in the morning,
the wind was so loud that it was hard to make myself heard
calling his name over the blowing of the trees.
Knowing what the wind was doing to our neighborhood,
I could only imagine how it was affecting this fire.
The paper published a map of the fires perimeter and
the number of different subdivisions and houses 
that were threatened by its wide breadth, was alarming.
In the end, they reported that 4,900 homes had been at risk.

Only after Jon returned home did I learn that he saw many 
of the houses above, firsthand. 

Jon text me about twelve hours after he left our house,
letting me know that he wouldn't be coming home
and that they would be patrolling during the night. 
In the end, Jon was there for over thirty hours,
sleeping little.
The final total is  that 32 homes were destroyed,
and over 2000 acres were burned.
When he did finally get home he had a lot of stories to tell. 
Other then chapped lips and a head cold, he was in pretty good shape.
Apparently, he was on a strike team with five other engines from our area,
and they were assigned to protect the structures in a designated neighborhood.
He used google maps to show me the different terrain,
and areas that they were working in.
It helped me understand a bit how one home could burn,
while all others around it were spared,
and how some homes on the edge of the hillside were fine,
while others in interior neighborhoods didn't fare as well.

During the it hit me that if we stay in Tahoe,
our home at some point could very easily be threatened by wildfire.
In the past five years,
there was a devastating fire near South Lake Tahoe
as well as a smaller fire on the West Shore.
I guess it brings new meaning to defensible space.