Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Being the parents of teenagers means waiting up at night when they are staying out late with friends. With a mean cold starting to take up residence in my tired body, I'd really just like to hit the sack. But I still have some time before the kids come home so I'll recap our Halloween adventures.
We started things off with a pre-trick or treating dinner of pizza and pop outside in the cul-de-sac with a bunch of neighbors. Everyone mingling and chatting, kids running around in costumes and "Thriller" blaring on the stereo that had been set up in someone's driveway. Around 5:45 things broke up and the kids scattered to begin trick or treating. Rebekah had made plans to head off with a group of friends for some trick or treating and then to a Halloween party to watch movies and "hang out". Julianne had made similar plans with a group of her friends. That left Brandon, his friend Ben, and Lilian. Brandon, knowing he was young enough to still need a parental chaperone, requested Bryan. I was invited to bring myself and my big bowl of candy down to where a bunch of other neighbor dads were setting up camp for the evening. Their plan consisted of sitting around a bonfire in the middle of the cul-de-sac and letting the costumed little ones come to them instead of staying home alone, popping up and down everytime the doorbell rang. It probably made a funny picture...me and eight other men roasting marshmallows in the bonfire, drinking rootbeer, eating BBQ ribs and handing out candy to all the kids. But it was a lot of fun and I'm grateful to them for inviting me.

The kids are now all home. They claim they all had a wonderful evening. They are in the process of sorting and trading candy on the living room floor. I scored some milk duds. I love milk duds....seems like I only get them on Halloween. It's late. Rebekah keeps reminding me that Daylight Savings Time ends tonight which means we get an extra hour...that it isn't really as late as it seems. Good argument but I'm not going for it. Time for bed.

After much debating Julianne decided to be a gangster. She and Bryan spraypainted the $ sign onto her pillow case to go along with her costume.


Brandon, when asked what he wanted to be for Halloween, confidently stated that he wanted to be a bunny, wearing an eyepatch and holding a machine gun. To which I replied, "Huh???"


Rebekah's costume was all about the hair. Anything else was only secondary...it was the hair you saw coming!


In the words of my little frog: "Want to wear my ribbit and get candy!"


Rebekah and Julianne's combined candy haul. (Brandon had previously traded his candy in to Bryan for money. $1.00 per 10 pieces. He got $7.00.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Favorite Photo(s) Friday: Niagara Falls

October 2006 our little family took a long anticipated trip to western NY. We had excitedly made plans to visit Niagara Falls and then drive to Palmyra to see church history sites and visit my sister Rachel who was serving a mission there. We arrived just ahead of a huge, un-seasonally early blizzard that dumped 22 inches of snow the day after we arrived. We were scheduled to visit Niagara Falls that first day. Here's an account of our experience at Niagara Falls that I wrote after we got home:"Next morning I'm pretty excited to get to Niagara Falls. It's raining. And windy. And extremely cold....like 42 degrees or something. Still, I'm jazzed. We make our way to the Maid of the Mist boat area. It's close enough to the falls that the wind is blowing quite a bit of water at us. We're pretty wet before we even get on the boat. Bryan doesn't look overly pleased to be that wet and cold already. He re-names the ride the Maid of the Wet. We get on the boat and it's a pretty cool ride. I risk a bit of water on the camera to take some pictures. It's seriously awesome but also seriously misty and even being right practically under the Horseshoe Falls we still can only see about half of it. We all end up keeping on our raincoats after we get off the boat since it is now raining pretty steadily outside."We jump on the trolley which takes us over to the Cave of Winds area. This is a wooden walkway that takes you right up to and practically behind the American Falls. Except that they want you to wear the shoes they provide so you won't slip and sue them. And these shoes are velcro sandals! We get only a few feet out the door towards the walkway before the kids start complaining bitterly about how cold their toes are. We decide that even though we paid for this activity we will skip it. Too cold.
"The kids are starting to make comments about just wanting to go back to the hotel. I'm trying to convince them that going back to the hotel will be boring for them and this will be the only time we get to see Niagara Falls. We hop on the trolley again and head out to some look-out point. It's after we get off the trolley and are walking down to the viewing area that it starts snowing. I'm valiantly trudging on, determined to see the view. Bryan is equally as valiantly trying to talk me out of it. We're all freezing and miserable. I'm standing there looking out over the incredible view. It's amazingly beautiful. The trees are all sorts of reds, oranges and yellows. The waterfall itself is mind boggling. We've spent thousands of dollars to get there and yet it's snowing so hard I can hardly see....let alone dare take my camera out to get some pictures. The disappointment is absolutely crushing and as we walk back up to catch the trolley again I am trying my hardest not to cry."
Ever have trips like that? That no matter how carefully you've planned, nothing seems to go quite right? We had issues with weather the rest of the trip. It took us 4 hours instead of 2 to drive to Palmyra because the earlier blizzard had closed down the freeway and we were diverted on to side roads the whole way down. (All hail GPS!) All of our airline flights, ALL of them, were fraught with problems and delays. But the trip remains a happy memory despite, or maybe because of those crazy problems.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moments

You know those moments where you feel so content, happy and like things couldn't be any more perfect at that exact moment? I had one a few minutes ago. It's snowing. I LOVE snow. I have a tradition that I started with my friend and college roommate, Heather, that the first storm of the year you break out the hot chocolate and listen to Christmas music....despite the date on the calendar. With that tradition in mind Bryan turned on some mellow, New Age-y Christmas music and I warmed up the hot chocolate. And as I was stirring the chocolate in my cup I realized that I was in the middle of one of those perfect moments.
I had one yesterday too. Lilian is a little bit obsessed with the school bus lately so I told her that we'd walk the kids to the bus stop yesterday morning. The air was fall crisp and there were colored leaves all over the ground. There were a whole bunch of kids at the corner wearing jackets and backpacks. There was a handful of boys tossing a football around in the street. And pretty soon that bus started trundling down the road to pick up the kids. Watching that whole scene....ahhh. Just perfect.
I live for those moments. I think we all do. Often they seem few and far between. They usually pop up when you are least expecting them. I think maybe they are all around us but we don't notice them as frequently because we are distracted, busy and not actively looking for them. It reminds me of Pres. Thomas S. Monson's talk about finding joy in the journey. "Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family." Wise words.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Consistency or Sanity?

(Click on the comic so you can better read it....)

I'm a little ashamed to admit it but this comic? This is, all too often, me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday: Brothers

Bryan and his brother Steven are just 23 months apart. This picture was taken during the month and a half where Bryan had just returned from his mission and Steven was just getting ready to leave. I don't know the significance of the matching robes, really. Or the hands in the sleeves. There may be a funny story there. But the robe still hangs in our closet and the picture is in a frame in our bedroom. And when I see it I smile and think of the friendship between brothers. 1993.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who knew I would miss vacuuming this much?


My vacuum broke. Bryan ordered the part that is needed to get things working again. It should be here tomorrow. But my house hasn't been vacuumed in 3 weeks. It is DRIVING. ME. CRAZY!!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Witch Watching

Lilian and I went to Gardner Village yesterday to see the witches. Katie and her crew joined us. It was a beautiful day and Gardner Village had all sorts of picture perfect spots but this is what I got from Lilian:
She deliberately refused to look at me any time I was holding the camera! Stubborn little thing.

I think she liked the pumpkins and fall leaves even more than the witches. She happily wandered through the shops with me. And she ADORED the petting zoo. The look on her face and the giggles that accompanied when she realized she could actually touch the animals cracked me up. She opted out of the pony ride. Apparently watching the ponies go round and round seemed safer than actually sitting on them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Inside vs. Outside

This is what happens inside when you spend 6 hours outside doing yard work.


But when outside looks as beautiful as this....
Can you blame me?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tis the Season



I always vow every year to grow our own pumpkins. But then we'd miss out on the fun of visiting the pumpkin patch.

Favorite Photo Friday: Photo Op

April 1998. Easter Sunday wound up with an impromptu photo shoot. However, it's rare that you see the the photographers being photographed! The three of us: Rachel, Melissa and I, were focused on sweet little Rebekah and Julianne in their Easter dresses. Another photographer (Mom? Mary?) found this shot maybe not so much cute, but much more humorous.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Third and Final Chapter: Cabo San Lucas

In Cabo we had to anchor out in the bay and tender into the port. You don't realize just how huge the ship really is until you are on a tiny boat in the water right next to it!


Our plan was to go to Lovers Beach....a beach only accessible by water taxi. It's this little spit of sand in between a bunch of rock formations out in the water with the calm Sea of Cortez on one side and the rough Pacific Ocean on the other. It's a gorgeous beach!


Even though we didn't pay the extra $2 per person for the "tour", our taxi took us sightseeing anyway. Here's the cool arch in the rock.


Here are the...seals? Sea Lions? Are seals and sea lions the same thing? Hmmm. I'm not sure which these are but they were fun to see.


Calm Sea of Cortez vs. Rough Pacific Ocean. Can you guess which one Bryan preferred? These pictures don't even do it justice but some of these waves were HUGE! And the undertow was freakishly strong. Bryan and Gary got PUMMELED by these waves. They had sand in every crevice and cranny from being rolled around under the water. Bryan even ended up with bloody knees. We laughed and laughed...it was crazy fun!


Some waves got big enough that it was best to just turn and run and hope it caught you at the tail end of the crash.


My favorite picture.


Riding the crest of a smaller, more calm wave.


Waiting for impact.


Taking a breather.


This was on the Sea of Cortez side. We spent just as long there, bobbing up and down in the calmer waters. That's our ship out behind us. Unfortunately it was leaving earlier in the afternoon....our stay in Cabo San Lucas was the shortest of all three ports. We were sad about that because we would've loved to spend more time playing at the beach.

Singing

Last spring Rebekah auditioned for and made it into the Concert Choir at her Jr. High for this year. They had a concert last night. Doesn't she look good in her choir dress? They gave her the smallest one they had but it still had to be hemmed and pinned to fit her. Her school has an amazing music program. I'm kind of stunned every time I go to a concert at how many kids (even boys!) are involved in choir. Some of my best school memories come from singing in choir....the rehearsals, concerts, the friends I made. I'm so glad Rebekah is having these experiences!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chapter Two: Puerto Vallarta

After two straight days at sea we were ready to get off the ship. Don't get me wrong....they were two luxuriously wonderful days at sea. But we were excited to add some sightseeing to the great memories we'd already made. Puerto Vallarta was our first port of call. We stepped off the boat and....went to Walmart. Yes, Walmart. Bryan needed some sunglasses and Walmart was right across the street. That very un-Mexico-vacation deed done we grabbed a taxi and headed into historic downtown. We wandered down the boardwalk....ocean and beach on one side, shops on the other. Very pretty. But very HOT! Temps were in the low 90's. Not too bad, really, until you factor in humidity. I live in a desert. Dry heat is what I'm used to. It's amazing what 95% humidity can do to make a somewhat hot day seem that much scorchingly worse. I had sweat rolling down my back. My sunglasses kept sliding down my nose. It was rather uncomfortable and we sought shade wherever we could....even forging our way through a hord of elementary kids because they were on the shady side of the road.Through the heat we continued. Into an old cathedral to look around. Through a flea market where I found myself staring at the floor because even a halfway interested glance at an item would bring the pushiest, in your face, sales pitch you could ever imagine. Out onto the beach to dig our toes into the sand and get our first feel of the waves around our ankles. And then, after only 2 and 1/2 hours we called "uncle", declared the heat the winner and headed back to the ship for some lunch and a dip in the pool.
Next up.... Cabo San Lucas

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chapter One: On board the Sapphire Princess


As you know, the week of October 3-10 Bryan and I spent aboard the Sapphire Princess with an itinerary down the Mexican Riviera. Ports of Call included Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Our friends, Hannah and Gary joined us on board. It was like a week long double date! Truly, I think this may be the most relaxing cruise we've ever been on. Ship board activities? What activities? We spent most of our time on board reading. Laying on a deck chair near the pool with a drink and a book, the ocean just beyond....ahhhh. Rather perfect. Bryan, not a fan of the heat, found shadier spots on deck or in a lounge or in our room to read. But read we did. I think Bryan made it through 7 books on his Amazon Kindle. I made it into my third book. Hannah and Gary both had record reading as well.When we weren't reading.... Bryan hit the gym a few times. I went to two art auctions. (Anyone want to loan me $5,000 for the painting that I fell in love with?) We played cards in the evenings a few times. We ate. A lot. Dressing up for dinner was a highlight of the day for me.


Up next.... Chapter Two: Puerto Vallarta

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jet-Lag?

I feel like I have jet-lag. My eyes are heavy. But how can that be? Other than flying into California, all of our cruise through the Mexican Riviera was on our very own Mountain Daylight Time. But I'm seriously thinking of a nap.
Speaking of sleeping....I have a new appreciation for my bed. Cruise ships aren't known, necessarily, for their fluffy, soft, luxurious beds and pillows. Funny, really, because the best night sleep I ever got in my entire life was on a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2006. We were sailing through a rough sea. The crew were passing out Dramamine like it was candy. They were leaving barf bags in strategic places in all the public rooms and on the stairs. I, myself, spent a bit of time on the floor of the bathroom getting to know the toilet on an even more personal level. But when I crawled into bed those waves rocked me to sleep like I've never slept before. I felt like I was melting into my pillow. I've always remembered that and had high hopes for my next two cruises, that I would sleep that way again. It was not too be. But last night in my own bed. Ahhhh. I'm not sure I ever realized before what a soft mattress I have. Maybe I'll go climb in right now.
And yes, I know I promised pictures and more details. They are coming. But Brandon is on the computer where all my pictures are. And my eyes are heavy.....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Home Again

Bryan and I spent the past week on this ship, the Sapphire Princess. Stories, pictures and details to follow but right now I'm looking forward to dropping into my own soft and familiar bed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday: Brandon

March 2008. It was my cousin Gwendolyn's wedding reception. Rebekah and Julianne were flower girls so we had arrived earlier leaving Brandon to get himself dressed and come later with cousins. The too long tie and the cowboy boots? Just so Brandon.