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1/15/2009 12:00:00 PM
Topanga
California

Half year report Nov 08-Jan 09 / part 1

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and what else has happened in those 3 months.

Well it is about time for a half year report of the Schmids so that you get to know what has been happening here the last few months. Lots of new photos are on the website, for those who have a hard time finishing the report ;o) www.lawur.com

NOVEMBER 2008

November was busy with our different school activities and emerging even more into the groups and community. We have been so fortunate to find such a wonderful circle of families, having been included in it and making friends. Even though there are days that are tough for the boys and/or I to get motivated on school work, (not all is 'peachy keen' and easy) we have found a routine and I feel we all enjoy the learning together a lot. With a better idea of what the school year will be like we will continue on and with the great support around I know it will be a good one!

Soccer kept us on our toes as well, with tournaments every weekend for both kids! Which meant we often had to split up and take the boys separately. Thank goodness Thanksgiving is such an important holiday and with that we had a weekend off! We celebrated the 'turkey feast' with Barbie and Jimmy in Temecula as well as cousins and family and friends. It is wonderful to be so close to them now (only 2 hours drive instead of 1 1/2 hour flight!) and be able to see them more often. The boys and I also were there for Halloween joining the 'candy mania' and being happy to experience the 'trick or treat' activities again. During the day we had a lemonade stand close to Barbie's house, with the earnings going to a charity we support with our teen group. So to say 'School on the street'... With the neighborhood kids being out of school that day we had quite a crowd coming by, which made the effort worth wild.

DECEMBER 2008 & JANUARY 2009

Mid December Robert's mom came for 4 weeks. She had visited the last time in 1999 shortly after Benjamin was born! Since she has been retired since August 08, she no longer had a good excuse and it was the perfect time to come and see where we live. Three days after her arrival we (unfortunately Robert had to work) drove to Carmel, a small artist village at the coast 2 hours South of San Francisco and about 6-8 hours from LA, depending on the route - inland or along the coast. Eva was there with her mom in 1997 and liked it so much, so we took the opportunity and took a road trip up, along with Omama's spirit! Even though it was freezing cold and windy, we still had blue skies and sunshine, which made the drive both ways beautiful and picturesque - what an impressive stretch of land! The boys had never seen that part of Hwy 1 either, and we were all amazed at the thought of driving at the most Western part of the continent...!? One day we visited the well known aquarium in Monterey, drove along the 17 mile Drive in Carmel and spent a bit of time on the beach. On our drive back we stopped at the elephant seal cove in San Simeon, where these enormous and monstrous creatures gather every winter to give birth to their babies and mate again. We even got to see a fierce and bloody battle between two bulls fighting over their territory - Discover Channel life!

Christmas we spent peacefully and relaxed at home. Eva unfortunately had a very bad cold and later on a flu, lacking her usual energy. Nevertheless she wanted to watch the boys for a weekend, and Robert and I got to spend a few days in the warmth of Palm Spring. We always enjoy a few days away and charging up, with no plans and schedule - just living the day!

Immediately afterwards we all drove to Las Vegas and met up with our friends the Yamanis, to celebrate New Year's together. Suzette and Kumar as well as their 2 sons Nishant (14) and Roshon (11) have done so many years and since they knew the best places and things to do, organized it all for us as well! Robert and I had been there last in 1998 and a lot had changed. It was fun for all of us to visit this crazy gambling city with its amazing hotels, restaurants, light shows, people - in the middle of the dessert! One day Eva and I took a day and toured the most important hotels ourselves, don't want to know how many miles we walked...! One half day the boys joined because one cannot leave without having seen the Venetian, Little Venice just indoors, as well as the Bellagio with its incredible music water fountain ballet show!

On the first day of the New Year we escaped the hassle of Las Vegas and visited the Hooverdam, which is only a 1 hour drive away. This enormous building is one of the 10 most important infrastructures in the US. The numbers and facts of this giant are quite impressive too: With a height of 725ft, a length of 1,243ft on top, a depth of 659ft on the base and 42ft on the top - this colossi made of 117,700 cubic feet of concrete and 95 901.084lbs of steel and metal, weighs about 6.6 tons! With all this material one could build a two lane road from Seattle to Miami or a walkway once around the world! During the building period from 1930 to 1935 about 16.000 people worked on it. The construction was finished 2 years early and the price of $165 Mill below its original budget - hard to find these days..

The last 10 days of Eva's visit we managed, in-between our different courses, to tour the area a bit. We drove through Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, managed to go shopping a few times and ice skating and spent a day in Santa Barbara, visiting the mission and taking a boat ride around the harbor. We even managed to take our little racer "The Frisco" out on an afternoon sail. Our friend and sailing teacher Frank came for a day (he was the one who accompanied us on our first sail from Santa Cruz to San Diego in '03, then to Mexico in '05 and came to Tonga in '06 sailing with us to NZ) Robert took the afternoon off, what better way/excuse than going sailing with Frank, and even though the weather did not cooperate as we would have liked (it was overcast, cold and hardly any wind) we all enjoyed it and Eva certainly got an exciting thrill at the end of her visit.

Mid January she went back to the cold in Austria, although the weather here was not much better during her stay. It was very cold and raining often, yet we did have some beautiful sunny days and managed to do all our sightseeing program with sunshine! On her departure day it even had 80 degrees Fahrenheit - which did not last too long...!

So this was it for part one - the second one will follow shortly, promise! Have fun checking out the new photo albums on the website, Till soon, Yours the 4 Schmids and Matey

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