Thursday, October 19, 2017

Colby Christian turns 30: New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi

   Like my mother, I am a big advocate of celebrating milestones and special occasions. This was a big one - my "baby" brother turned 30!!! He is a very special guy, one of my favorites, so Freddy and I decided to celebrate him.  Graciously our spouses stayed at home (Justin and Annie both with kids). I am so grateful to all of them - especially Annie - with two four year-olds and a one year-old. We left on the 13th of October and came back on the 18th. Six days! It was a pretty amazing trip, and a special bonding time with my brothers.
DAY 1: 10/13/17 (Friday) Most of the day (pretty much all of it) was spent on airplanes. On the upside, we were all on the same flight from Los Angeles to New Orleans. I had some drink tickets that I had earned from South West and we spent lots of hours in the air chatting with beverages. When we got to New Orleans we had to wait a while for the rental car. When we finally got the car we headed out to  stay the night in Mobile, Alabama. We stopped in to have some dinner at a fast food chicken place called "Raising Cane". The lady working there asked if Freddy and I were Colby's parents. Um...I know he is youthful, but seriously?!? "Either I am aging really well, or they are ageing really poorly." Colby remarked. (That wasn't really the exact quote, but close enough). We decided to call this happy and very entertaining woman Monique. It was a hilarious start to our vacation. This was outside of Biloxi and we got to Mobile around 11pm.
DAY 2: 10/14 The hotel we stayed in was called the Quality Inn. Freddy decided that the Mediocre Inn would have probably been more appropriate. After the hotel breakfast we walked around down town. We happened across a Marti Gras museum and decided to go in and pay the $5 for a guided tour. Our tour guide, Craig, turned out to the the favorite person we met on the trip. It really was a fascinating and fun tour. I learned a ton about how Marti Gras actually started in Mobile, Alabama, but since New Orleans is a bigger city they get all the press. The courts and the crowns with the royalty passed on through blood for generations for the Marti Gras balls...fascinating! In that part of the country making floats could be a full-time lifelong career job! During the tour we heard some noise outside. It turned out that there was a parade going on. Two college football teams were playing each other that night, so they were having a modified and super simplified Marti Gras style parade.  We ran outside and hooted and hollered as the people on the floats threw beads, cookies, candy, toys, and Moon Pies. They also had an extremely efficient high powered steamer that cleaned the street after the parade. After the tour we went to see the USS Alabama, which was a WW2 ship. We each ended up with several bug bites. They bothered me throughout the trip. We also saw lots of butterflies.
On to Biloxi. We stopped in to "Slap Yo Mama" BBQ. It was super good. So good that I bought the spice rub for Justin. It turns out that the term Slap Yo Mama means that the food is so good that you will want to give your mom a big pat on the back for a job well done. Looking around Biloxi we saw lots and lots of casinos. Why? I have no idea. Either way, Colby decided that he wanted to play some roulette. Freddy ended up also teaching him craps. We stayed for a few hours (honestly don't know how long), and as we were headed out we noticed the water with some nice sand on the Beachfront. We ended we walked along the waterfront and putting our feet in the Golf of Mexico. It was pretty gross looking, but the sand was fine and white and felt really good between my toes. (This is one of my favorite feelings). Most of Biloxi is still destroyed, much is rebuilt, but the devastation of Katrina is evident throughout the town.
We drove to New Orleans. I went to bed, while Colb and Freddy decided to go have a beer on Bourbon St. As I was getting into bed I heard what sounded like a white noise machine. I looked out the window and it was torrential downpour (that may be extreme). I thought it was nice, the boys didn't enjoy it quite so much as they walked back into the room drenched. The room they gave us had one queen bed with no pull out and no roll-away (Even though Colby had confirmed with them that it would). Not ideal for 3 adults. So, the hotel brought up an air mattress, and promised to move us. The next day we got 2 king beds and they comped us a breakfast for later in the week.
DAY 3: 10/15 We stared the day right with beignets and chicory coffee at "Cafe Beignet". Delish! It's kind of crazy how much powdered sugar they pile on to those things! Every time you breath some goes flying. We were all entertained. We decided to check out the French Quarter. The weather decided it was a good time to poor. I thought it was kind of fun as we never get rain that hard in San Jose. We ducked into the Presbetere to learn all about hurricane Katrina in the museum all about it. It was enlightening and devastating. We also learned all about the the landscape of the Mississippi river. It's crazy how much damage was done because of the flaws in design that people made, which caused the damage to be much worse than it would have been if they just hadn't tried to control the Mississippi river and build levees all over the place. Have they stopped - no of course not. They are just attempting to correct their initial errors. Moving all the water is causing lots of problems because it is not how nature was intended to work. People are always messing things up by doing what suites their own interests. By moving the water they have destroyed lots of marsh land leaving the cities more vulnerable. While we were at the museum one of the videos really struck me. The man in the video said that people ask why anyone would ever live in this area knowing about hurricane risks. He commented (with anger) , "Why would people live in California with the risk of earthquakes, or in any of the states in tornado ally?" The Mississippi is what brought people along with the Gulf of Mexico and that is what will keep them coming and settling in the area. There are, however, significantly less people living in New Orleans than there were before Katrina. I heard on facebook after returning that based on a study, 5 of the happiest cities in the world are all in Louisiana, so that is saying something!
When we were done with the museum we stayed in the square just outside (no more rain the entire rest of the trip) and listened to a violin duo that was absolutely incredible. Somehow I managed to forget to bring cash for the trip and forgot my debit card. Not ideal. I would have tipped them lots and bought both of their c.d.s. That was the best music I have heard in a very long time. I couldn't leave until they left, it was phenomenal. The boys bought some beers to drink as we walked around. Freddy was pretty stoked that you could just walk around with booze on the streets. We went into a voodoo shop. Super strange stuff goes on in there, and more fortune tellers around than I have ever seen in my life. As we were exploring we happened upon a garden tour and went into some random dudes backyard to check it out just for funsies. It wasn't that great, but fun for the randomness that it entailed. Freddy got a blue drink to enjoy while we walked around. Some dude came up to Colby and said, "I can tell you where you got your shoes." Colb was intrigued so he went along with it. He was wearing a brand new pair of pumas, but the guy insisted on cleaning them, which probably made them more dirty since they were cloth and clean already. It turns out he got his shoes "on his feet, on the river walk in New Orleans". $10 later, we were on our way again. Colby was not impressed that he had fallen into the biggest tourist scheme ever.
We decided to take a ferry to Algiers. Freddy made some friends on the ferry that gave us some bar reccomendations that happened to be along the walking tour that Colb's book recommened, "Crown and Anchor". We ran into live music at "Old Point". I absolutely LOVED the music. New Orleans and music are incredible. It really made me want to be a musician! We met and conversed with several locals at both bars. One guy was telling us how he used to be a lawyer, but he quit and started running boat tours in New Orleans and loved every minute of it and has never been happier. I love stories like that. Sometimes the simplest lives truly are the best. We walked around and enjoyed the town. When we got back to NOLA we ate at a cafe in a square. I had a yummy muffaletta. We headed over to Pat O'Brians for a hurricane. The dueling pianos were so much fun. It was pretty crowded though so we ended up going out to the patio. By that time it was really late, so we headed back to the hotel. That was definitely a little more than I had planned to drink that night and Freddy claims that he helped me take off my shoes that night. It's still up for debate.
DAY 4: 10/16 We got off to a late start cause we were all so tired. We drove out to the Barataria Swamp and checked out the twin canals. It turned from swampland to marsh. It was really neat. None of us had ever seen anything like it. We were looking for alligators, which we never found, but the trails were unique and we found some weird bugs/animals that we had never seen before. They looked like abc gum blobs. We still don't know what they were. I ended up stepping in big mud puddles as I tried to get across twice. I did not enjoy that. Next we decided it was a good time to drive over to the Garden District and walk around. It was a quaint neighborhood. The pavement there was really destroyed by the tree roots. We joked about how Freddy could make lots of money fixing twisted or broken ankles. He thought offering his services after night tours would really be a money maker. He also was a HUGE advocate of power washing driveways pretty much everywhere we went. It was pretty funny.
Upon our return to the French Quarter the guys grabbed 24oz beer-ritas. We hadn't eaten for quite a while. One of the guys in Algiers had recommended we go to Fritzels for amazing music. We assumed it also served food. We got seats in the second row. You can't beat that. Turns out they only serve drinks, but it was too good to leave so we stayed for 2 sets. The pianist, Richard Scott was absolutely phenomenal! I made the boys stay a long time because I was enjoying the music so much. I really didn't want to leave. It was a very cool jazz band and everyone was really good. The trumpet player was like 65 years old and all the guys were white, which I did not expect. Stereotype- obviously, but still not what I expected. At this point Colby was where I had been the night before. He was letting the pianist know that wearing a fitbit was cheating because he was playing his piano solos so fast that he was getting too many steps. It was pretty funny. Colby had warned us that drinking on an empty stomach wasn't great for him. Now it was really late so we went to get some food. On the way Freddy bought a hand grenade drink and we ended up squirting each other with water from these little plastic grenades. Freddy was given three samples of the 3 different options to try. He passed them out and when the guy asked what he wanted he picked two of the three, which was not an option, but since he hadn't tried two of them, and it was super loud in there, he didn't know. I was very entertained. We headed to a little eatery called "St. Peters" to get the peanut butter and bacon burger. It was recommended by a friend. They were very good. "Nancy" gave Freddy too much peanut butter. He also got a pb and j(jameson). I was going to share my burger, which was surprisingly delicious, with Colby. Instead he leaned over in his bar stool and threw up - twice. That was unexpected. He warned up about the empty stomach.
DAY 5: 10/17 Complimentary breakfast sandwiches at the hotel. We went to the National Park visitor center and looked around and asked them for advice on what to do/where to go. They suggested staying and listening to the Jazz performance at the national park Jazz museum. I am so glad we did. It was amazing! It ended up being Richard Scott (from Fritzels!) and it was a question and answer series so you could ask any questions about jazz and learn all about it. I was enamored and haven't smiled that much in a long time. I couldn't stop smiling. Freddy even took a video because I was so into it. I truly felt inspired. I need to learn to play jazz. I bought the c.d. this time cause they let me pay with credit card.
Afterwards we went to Mid-city and walked through the New Orleans museum of art sculpture garden. We ended up stopping for lunch at "Morning Call" for jambalaya and other Louisiana food including beignets of course. We tried to go to a cemetery. It was open for like 10 minutes while we walked around before it closed. The boys were fascinated by the large headstones. On our way out of town Freddy saw a meatery called Taups'. He had read somewhere that it had lots of strange meats so we stopped in. OMG! We got the a meatery board. It came with boudin balls, cracklins, sausage, rillons, daube glace, slice-cured meats, Hog's head cheese, and chicken liver mousse. There were also pickled veggies and other accoutrements. Wow! That meal made me want to bring Justin to New Orleans just so he could try it. It was phenominal. The rillons were candied pork belly, and one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten! I am soooo glad we stopped there!!!
When we got back to New Orleans we took a Lyft ride over to Frenchman Street. We had been told by lots of people that it is better than Bourbon St. with more local flair. I wasn't super impressed. The outside music was weird techno violin music gone wrong. There were some small clubs playing a variety of types of music, but I didn't want to make Colby go into another loud venue. He doesn't really enjoy that atmosphere and volume level. So, we walked around, bought some street art and the guys had a big sausage to share that they thought was very good. We went back and went to sleep.
DAY6: 10/18 We got up nice and early so that we didn't waist any of the day. We started out at Cafe Du Monde for beignets for breakfast and to take home to our families. We tracked down Spitfire for some coffee, and grabbed Cafe du Monde coffee and pralines for souvenirs. On to the War of 1812 Battlefield to check it out. It wasn't that special, mostly a big open field, but it is good that we remember history. The real highlight of the day was the Whitney Plantation. We toured a sugar plantation and read the memorial walls, saw where the slaves lived, read their quotes, toured the big house all with a tour guide that was very passionate. We still got to the airport with time to spare. Before heading out we had one more New Orleans meal. Freddy had the red beans and rice and I had the collard greens and Salisbury steak with corn bread. It was enough to share with Colby so that worked out great. Our flights home were not together so Freddy and I flew to LA, dropped Freddy off as I headed on and Colby had a layover in Phoenix. Freddy and I had four hours to just chat and hang out together. When we got in to LA I asked the Southwest attendant if I could get on the flight boarding the flight right then instead of waiting another hour and a half and she changed my ticket, which was awesome! Home again, home again jiggity jig.
OVERALL: We had a great trip.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

House updates 2017

Since getting our house painted over the summer we have slowly been trying to get our house back in order, but better. We bought some beautiful Peter Lik pictures for our walls. We are revamping our previously underutilized computer room closet. We put shelving up and are replacing the blue carpet in the closet with laminate flooring. It is looking really nice. We are currently working on putting new baseboards in. We got new blinds for the boys rooms and the living room. We took our pot rack down, are getting rid of the lazy boy chair, Justin's old headboard, Oliven and Vander's curtains, the maroon chairs. I revamped all of my scrapbooks so that they match. I am sure that I am missing lots of stuff, but it is shaping up nicely. I did lots of touch-up spackling and painting. Now to finish the baseboards and hanging of the art. It's hard because we are hanging heavy framed art into dry wall, and I just want to make sure that it won't fall down ever. Especially since their was a 4.1 earthquake yesterday. It really scared Oliven. Vander thought it was, "super cool".
 

Crazy meal

Camille's facebook post about our Crazy meal that the boys earned from the summer and we finally were able to do. They wanted to wait for Camille.
 Hanging out with my lovely Katz family πŸ’ž Tonight we did crazy meal! We scootered over to the grocery store, each spent $5 on any food we wanted, and incorporated it all into a meal. We made pizza on waffles (without cheese), pork loin with a grape and apple chutney, Texas toast, and a terrible salad comprised of tomato, corn, water chestnuts, and granola. Now we're playing awesome board games!!!! Love my wonderful adopted family πŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’žπŸ’ž

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Epic family trip: Las Vegas, Nevada; Utah national parks; Creede, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; Anaheim and Symar (LA), California: 16 days

This has been the year of family. We didn't go to any new states (okay, we did cause we went to Hawaii in January), but it sure was nice to really focus on spending time with the people we love the most. I think this was our longest trip ever, and since this was the year of family it included many days of family fun. This was really an amazingly cool trip. Okay, they are all pretty great, but this one was really awe inspiring and fun, and super special. While we were gone we hired a painter to paint our whole house. I have been wanting to do this for quite a while - like since we moved in and we finally took the plunge. We got a colorist to come and help us pic colors that would go well with all of our current furniture, art, flooring, fencing, etc. It turned out really well. It's a light blue/greenish color with dark brown trim in the front of the house and light trim in the back. We also had the closet painted and it looks really nice. We took the mirrored doors off and are putting shelving in so that we can actually use that space. We are close to being done with the shelving and need Brian's help with the finishing nails (we tried by ourselves, it did not go well), and the flooring. It still has old blue carpet and we are going to replace it with laminate flooring.
  As per usual the hardest part of the trip was Vander's behavior and his tendency to make sure that he does exactly the opposite of what we ask him to do. It seriously could not be more frustrating. Every time I tell him that I would like to get him a babysitter and have him stay at home while we travel. Our trips would be so much more pleasant at times.  He is the child who makes sure that I stay on my toes. He is always challenging Justin and me and testing our patience. Unfortunately, Justin is not nearly as patient as I am so sometimes I get really irritated with him for yelling at Vander. It becomes a vicious cycle. Yet at other times it is great to have him along. Vander used to be the best little hiker and he has decided now that he doesn't like hiking, it's too much work, so he makes sure that everyone is miserable on our hikes. I LOVE hiking. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment as well as a chance to just be outside in nature and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery. I grew up spending a lot of time in nature and it gives me inner peace and stress relief. Unfortunately, Vander takes that peace and makes it into a painful and whiny experience. More on that later.
  Since our trip was now two months ago (we didn't get back until the day I started back at school and everyone knows that the beginning of school is time consuming and challenging, especially since they hadn't told me my schedule, given me my classroom - it still had other people's stuff in it, or told me which grade levels I would have which semester until the second day of teacher training out of three total) I cannot give as many details this time. I will give the gist of it. I have been told I am, "the worst rememberer in our house." It's not wrong so I'll do my best.
DAY 1: We headed to Las Vegas on the long drive. We stopped in at Mad Greek, cause, well, why wouldn't you? You pass it at lunch time and Greek food is delicious. Also, on the way we walked over to Murray Family Farms while Justin got gas and bought some veggie chips that were really yummy. Back on the long trek, we checked in to the Luxor hotel. We like it because the boys are still fascinated by the slanted windows. On to the the Bellagio Fountain show which is always impressive. We stopped in at 800 degrees pizzeria to have some Italian thin crust pizza. It did not disappoint. We had some ice cream at a creamery on the way back. We also walked through Vander's favorite, the Hershey's store for some candy bars.
DAY 2:We decided Bobby Flay's fancy restaurant, Mesa Grill, would be our anniversary meal. We went for brunch. It was okay. Okay, it was good, but we truly were expecting better. The rolls and muffins before the meal were the best part of the meal. It was a small menu and almost everything on it was spicy. Not great for the boys and me. Afterwards, we headed out to M&M World. We headed in for the 4D experience, which did not scare the boys this time. Last time they thought it was pretty creepy. I think it helped that they knew what to expect. Vander, not surprisingly, spent some money on a variety of M&M's. He has gotten pretty good at sharing, so we all got to try them.
  We went to the Bellagio fountain show and garden and visited a few art galleries - Vladimir Kush was my favorite. His surrealist art intrigues me, just as Salvador Dali's always has. It is a little less obscure. He calls it the "art of metaphor." I love it, but the painting I fell in love with was $17,000, so that was never going to happen. :( We also looked at a photographer named Peter Lik's gallery. This one was Justin's favorite. They really are beautiful pictures of nature. We decided to buy four of the pieces. 3 are in frames and are still on our way to our house right now. They are really big, expensive, and gorgeous. I guess you get to a point in your life where spending money on things you will really enjoy in your daily life is part of the joy and luxury of not being poor. Though, growing up poor still makes big purchases very challenging for me. We needed that money to eat growing up. Now we are spending it on art. It's still hard to believe.
  Back to Vegas...we went to Hershey's chocolate world again at you know who's request. We had burgers at "Bobby's Burger Palace," which is Bobby Flay's casual burger joint. It was really really good. So good that we went well out of our way to eat there again the next day.
DAY 3: No Vegas trip is complete without a trip to the Paris Buffet Breakfast. So, off we went to a huge, delicious breakfast complete with several filled crepes, smoked salmon for Justin, and a gigantic smile on Vander's face. That kid LOVES to eat. We decided to work off our breakfast (and cause Justin didn't want to pay for parking) to walk to Circus Circus - yikes. I do NOT recommend walking that far in 110 degree heat. It was pretty painful for much of it, especially the parts when we were in between hotels for large amounts of time. Luckily it was just as fun as I imagined. There was a juggler, a foot juggler, tandem uni cyclists, and a clown. Each of which was quite entertaining. We also played a bunch of carnival games and each of the kids won a stuffed toy. That day we went out of our way to have burgers again. We ended up walking 7 miles before Oliven said, "My legs are starting to feel a little tired." A total of 10.5 miles of walking and we were back at the hotel and ready to crash for the night. Justin and Vander took a few breaks on the way back, but I am always impressed at how far the boys can walk when they aren't thinking about it.
DAY 4: We went to a super cool museum that is new to the Las Vegas area - The MOB museum - it was fascinating. We even got to sit in the courtroom where they held the trials of all the mafia members when they decided it was time to crack down on the crime. We really enjoyed seeing all the videos and hearing the actual recorded phone conversations between MOB members when their phones were being tapped. Al Capone and Lucky Luciano of course. Justin didn't realize that Frank Sinatra was part of the MOB, though all ties were of course denied. We headed over to the Ethel M Chocolate factory. It was totally different than last time we went. It had a complete makeover. Unfortunately we got there 5 minutes into their chocolate tasting and had to wait an entire hour before the next one, but seriously who doesn't want to do a chocolate tasting, so we just enjoyed our time while we waited inside the air conditioned building watching them make chocolate, sampling some candy bars and hanging out.
The chocolates we tasted were of course delicious, but the docent was not as knowledgeable as we had hoped. She did go over the process of making chocolate. We already knew because this was not our first chocolate shop so we have heard this process several times before. The true food highlight of Justin's trip came before both of these adventures. We went to a little place called Lotus of Siam. This has been on Justin's list for a while now. It is off the strip, but a place frequented by celebrities. Justin found out about it from "Best Thing I ever Ate" by Ming Tsai, "Next Food Network Star" and "Top Chef" and thought it would be worth a try. Well, this Thai food was absolutely amazing! I loved the starter soup. It was phenomenal and memorable. Justin ordered garlic shrimp for us to share. He feel in love...he says it is one of the top 3 things he has EVER eaten. Being a foodie that is saying a lot! We both decided that we were going to count that meal as our anniversary dinner. Apparently on September 8th the roof collapsed! Good thing we went when we did!
DAY 5: Our Vegas adventure came to an end as we headed to Zion National Park. It was breathtaking. We went on a super hot and painful hike. It was about 105 degrees in a lot of sunlight. Around 3 miles and Vander was an absolute nightmare. He of course wanted to hike right by the edge, which always scares me because he is a very clumsy walker. He falls all the time. I have to watch him like a hawk on trips, it is very nerve wracking. He decided half way through that he didn't want to hike any more so he fell on the ground crying and whining. Justin was not in shape to take that hike either, but he wasn't complaining. Then Vander fell on his face via his knees and scraped them up. Justin yelled at him and at that point Oliven and I decided we were going to walk ahead because they were ruining our hike. We were all hot and tired, but the top of the hike was very pretty. Ollie and I thought it was worth the hike. Justin and Vander did not agree. There was a ranger on the way up that said that if we went in the water we would ruin the ecosystem, so Oliven was very upset at all the people in the water. He wanted me to tell them to get out because they weren't following the rules. There were no signs though. Luckily the second half of the hike was down hill and you got to go under a waterfall. Everyone enjoyed that part. It was much cooler in the shade under the mist.   When we got back to the hotel I just sat in a chair and enjoyed the view as the sun set. It was so beautiful. I just love nature, it is so incredibly amazing and vastly different everywhere. I am so thankful for national parks! Oliven has gotten really into getting Jr. Ranger pins at all the national parks and I started a national park passport (thanks to Colby's inspiration). This means we learn a lot more about the parks because the Jr. Ranger program has lots of questions about the park and places that you have to explore to find the answers. It really is a great program. We got upgraded to a suite. The boys were stoked at how big it was and that we had two doors into the hallway for our one hotel suite. They had a joyous bath that night and enjoyed the luxurious hotel room. It was there favorite room ever...until a couple nights later.
DAY 6: Bryce Canyon was our next stop. We got to explore and enjoy all of the hoodoos. Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and "broken" lands. Nowhere in the world are they as abundant as in the northern section of Bryce Canyon National Park. In common usage, the difference between Hoodoos and pinnacles or spires is that hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a "totem pole-shaped body." A spire, on the other hand, has a smoother profile or uniform thickness that tapers from the ground upward. After the painful hiking experience in Zion we decided to take the free guided bus tour  in an air conditioned bus called the Rainbow Shuttle with a knowledgeable tour guide. It was a great experience. It was really incredible how different each of the national parks were. That evening we went to a really neat restaurant up on a hillside with an incredible view of Moab. It was the house of a man who struck it rich many years ago, and then took it upon himself to take care of the town.
The house was converted into a restaurant called "Sunset Grill." It had a really neat story and one of the managers saw the boys and asked if they were interested in dinosaurs. He was a collector of dinosaur bones from the area and he gave them each a piece of dinosaur bone fossil. Justin enjoyed his prime rib. My meal was dry chicken, but the view was so worth it.
DAY 7: We spent the first part of the day at Arches. This was my favorite of the parks we went to. The views were indescribable. Vander wrote that they looked like castles and towers. There were lots of deep red colored arches. The best one by far was through a trail of what was accurately described as deep sand. It was so worth it. The boys all stayed in the air conditioned car. I was not at all surprised that Justin skipped this hike. When I got to the end, I was awe-struck.
This view made my whole trip. I could have gone home right then and said it was a trip well worth taking. Wow, just wow! The second half of our day was in Canyonlands national park. It was looking deep into a canyon that had a plateau of land way down low. Vander said it looked like there were two grounds. It was again phenomenal and incredible how different each of the parks were.
For dinner we met up with Deb and the GG's for dinner at a Mexican food place in Cortez, Colorado. That night Justin had paid for a fun upgraded room including a kids bunk and "tree house" area complete a PlayStation 3. They got to play the Lego Batman game. Justin joined them for a few rounds. They ate breakfast at super speed so they could play for a bit in the morning as well. That became their new favorite hotel room ever.
DAY 8: The last national park we went to was in Colorado, Mesa Verde, which was full of Native American houses that were carved into the Canyons in the sides of the walls. I can't even imagine living that high up. How in the world did they get up there or down there. It was literally in the side of a wall that way way up high, but not anywhere near the top of the wall.They refer to the dwellings as cliff palaces. There were also some at ground level that we could go into and see them up close. They also had an exhibit that went with the park to get a closer look and get some background. We also tried to watch the videos as several of the parks to get more insight on the history. From there we went to Creede, Colorado to start our family trip with Justin's side of the family. (Larry, Theresa, Mitch, Katie and Evan didn't come, but everyone else was there). It was a super relaxing, enjoyable trip. I really enjoyed the all the quality time, playing games, conversations, getting to know everyone better. It was a lovely week! It was so nice to have older kids this time. Last family trip Oliven was just starting to walk and it was really hard to keep him off the stairs. It was super stressful and I promised myself not to travel with them for a couple years. The plane flight was horrible! Nobody else had kids yet, so there was no way they could understand what we were going through. This time Drake and Ashley had little kiddos Grayson (3) and Collette (1), and Kyle and Krista had Riley (not even 1 yet). Playing games at night was difficult because we all had to whisper.
DAY 9: When we got up in the morning Heather and I went for a jog down the super steep long road that the house was on top of. I am not a fan of jogging downhill, but I enjoy going uphill. It makes me feel like I am getting good exercise. It does not feel good on my knees. It was nice to chat with Heather. Fishing day. Vander and Oliven had been looking forward to trying out fishing for months. I have never been a big fan of fishing. It is just so boring. I loved being outside and chatting, but I don't really know how to fish and it seems to be a very solitary experience. I liked walking around on the trail and watching the water flow under the bridge. The most challenging part of the trip was finding the eye drops I needed. I was supposed to be using preservative free drops 5x a day because of my recent Lasik surgery. They had none. They told me that I could find them in the town over. Only about and hour and half away!!! I had to just do my best to stretch what I had left. My right eye started hurting and it was irritating me for a few days and so I had to make all kinds of phone calls to find out where I could go to get my eyes checked. The closest place was 4 hours in the wrong direction! Luckily it stopped hurting before we left Creede. They boys enjoyed fishing with Deb, Heather, and Justin. Cordy did a really fun guessing jar every day for fun. Goldfish crackers, Starbursts, beans, and cotton balls. Somehow Drake won all but one, which Ashley Busch won. Go figure.
DAY 10: Vander liked fishing so much he joined the fishing family members again. Still no fish. :( Obviously, there weren't very good fishing holes because Bobby is a master fisherman. Oliven and Justin decided to tackle a 500 piece Dodger puzzle. That took most of the day. GGMa and I helped a little, but not much. Heather, Krista, Ashley, and I went for a hike. It was really fun, hard to find the trail at times, and lots of water to cross. Ashley hit her head on trees a few times. It was a really fun day. It's so nice to hike with people who enjoy hiking as much as I do. Deb showed the GG's the special family video that she'd had Drake make for them. It made me cry. It was so good! It was filled with family memories and lots of love.
DAY 11: Game day. We spent most of the day playing games. I wanted to get some exercise to I decided to go down the hill on my own and come back up. It seemed a lot longer by myself. I did go about twice as far. My fitbit said I had gone over 250 flights of stairs by the time I was done. Nice. The rest of the day was games and Thanksgiving dinner. Justin's family really likes Thanksgiving dinners. The boys made s'mores and loved that they got to use Reese's pieces instead of Hershey's chocolate bars.
DAY 12: Our family time had come to an end. It went too fast. On our 10 hour drive to Phoenix we stopped off at Four Corners. Vander bought himself a bracelet and I got a few pairs of earrings. It's not that great of a place, but the boys really wanted to go again, and it's kind of neat to be able to stand in 4 states at the same time. Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. When we were almost to Phoenix we got caught in traffic. Justin decided to get off the freeway to find a work around. Good thing he did. It turned out an oil semi had fallen over in the road and was on fire. They didn't know how long it would take to put the fire out. We waited for a while in the car. It was 107 degrees outside so walking around wasn't much of an option. At some point we decided to turn around and see if there was a way around. There was not. None of the roads were through streets. Well, I saw a library and we decided to stop there because it was sure to be air conditioned. It smelled like old book and was about 80 degrees inside, but that was an improvement. Justin started looking up options on Google. The boys found some kid computer programs, and it was super lucky that the ladies were going to start yoga in about 10 minutes when we got there. So, the very friendly ladies shared their mat with me and I got to enjoy a yoga class with them. The yoga was lead by a video, but it was good exercise and I enjoyed spending my time there. Well about 50 minutes into the class Justin said it was time to go. The fire was estimated to keep burning for quite a while and the only way around that freeway was a four hour detour. He was not impressed, but it was really the only option (the fire didn't end up getting cleared until 3am). I was thrilled. Had we not stopped for lunch we may have been right by where the semi was. We were safe, not stuck in gridlock with no hope of getting out, had an adventure and got a bonus yoga class in.We arrived in Phoenix at 10pm instead of 4pm, but sometimes life doesn't go as planned and that is part of the fun.
DAY 13: We almost slept through breakfast because we were all so tired. I was really exhausted from not enough sleep overall. We decided to go the The Musical Instrument Museum. I wish I hadn't have been so tired. It truly was the coolest museum I have ever been to! They had instruments from all over the world with videos of people playing them in those places in their countries. They were fascinating. They had a huge instrument full of instruments that they would truck around to parties in the 1920's that they played for us. It was soooo cool. They also had a huge room with instruments from all over that you could try out. I would love to work there! The gift shop was the coolest. I basically wanted to buy everything in there. Justin joked, $60 to get in and $100 to get out, and trust me that was a lot of restraint on my part. I got some treble clef and piano earrings, an Elvis lunch box, a treble clef puzzle box and a little music box. So cool. I definitely want to go there again when I am not so tired! That night we went to the baseball game. Diamondbacks vs Dodgers. The Dodgers won 3 to 2. It was crazy hot in there. 115 degrees outside (I didn't even know it could get that hot - then it did in San Jose a couple weeks later - global warming much?), and 85 degrees in the stadium. I was sweating in my seat. I spent a lot of time in food lines for the boys. Never again am I agreeing to get food at 3 different places. Not worth my time.
DAY 14: The next morning we drove to Anaheim. We got there in time to help finish setting up for the rehearsal dinner. Annie did a fantastic job. Everything was beautiful and all the details were covered. Freddy said he didn't want to host anymore because all the cleaning up was too much work. Lots of people showed up late due to LA traffic including Alex. Once everyone was there, a few toasts were given, there was a potato bar and it was nice to meet Alex's family. Her sister is a sweetheart. I am not surprised. We had to do the actual rehearsal after dinner because people were late, so we were doing it into the darkness, but it was lighthearted and fun. The dance practice was interesting, but went over very well at the wedding.
DAY 15: Colby and Alex's wedding day!!! What a great wedding. The morning started with Annie and I going to get our hair done. She got her make-up done (I didn't want to do it since I was still healing from Lasik and I didn't really want anyone messing around with my eyes), and I got my nails painted. We arrived at the venue in Sylmar (in Los Angeles) and it was hot, in the high 90s. It was not what I expected. The girls were basically getting ready in a room of the caretaker's house. The guys were getting ready in a motor home parked on the property. Justin got to be a groomsman in the wedding. Colby and Justin really do enjoy each others company. It smelled like animal due to the fact that there was a zebra, camel, etc. on the property. There were pictures taken with the camel. Uncle Ken got lots of camel kisses and his face smelled horrible. He thought it was hilarious to have me smell his face. He is such a fun guy. I got to meet Carson for the first time. He was adorable and such a little sweetheart. The whole audience was in the sun, which the people had said they would not be. 
  Alex was gorgeous - not surprising. Before the ceremony they did a "first look" and took some pictures together. 
  The ceremony went really well. I got to walk down the isle with Grandpa David. (I had to kick Bob out of the front row. Seriously Bob, you thought you should sit in the front row?)
  I was able to officiate without crying. Alex thanked me, said it was beautiful and that I really said a lot of nice things about her. Of course I did. Alex is great! 
  What a special honor it was for me to get to perform their ceremony! Alex and Colby's vows were so heartfelt and special. Colby did start crying and I thought that was extra special. They danced down the isle and really gave it their own flair. It was really cool! 
  Alex did an amazing job with decorating, the music was great (her friend really came through), a friend brought sangria, and the cookie bar went really well. No cake needed. There was lots of time to dance, and who doesn't love that. Alex had everyone in the wedding party dance in to a song that is special to them from a show they love, "Master of None". It was really neat and a fun way to start the reception, which was in the shade. The best man and maid of honor speeches were great. Annie and I watched Alex and Colby dance and we were both tearing up. Neither one of us had ever seen Colby look so happy. It was truly a blessing to witness their love and be a part of their special day.Vander, Oliven, Emmie and Molly were tearin' it up on the dance floor. They all had a blast. Justin took our kids to the hotel around 9ish and I stayed with the Grand family until the end around 10, though with the ride situation it was closer to 11 when we got to the hotel. Bob took grandpa to the hotel really early and then took off early in the morning. I think grandpa was a bit disappointed, but really what could he do about it. I really hate the whole Bob situation.
  There was some drama at the end of the evening. Anthony, Heidi's boyfriend, dislocated his shoulder and needed to be taken to the hospital. Heidi was drunk and Hedy had drank too because Anthony was their sober driver. Ubers couldn't be reached and the ones that people were able to get a hold of cancelled, so organizing rides for people to get down the mountain was not easy. We finally figured it out, but I am pretty sure that Heidi threw up in someone's car. Not good.
  The Grand's stayed in the same hotel we did, so in the morning we all enjoyed the hotel breakfast together. We said our goodbyes and each went our separate ways home.
  What a great trip! Seriously, family in the middle and at the end, phenomenal amounts of nature, the best museum I have ever been to, the best food Justin has ever eaten, a baseball game, an adventure and Vegas baby. The heat was intense, but sooo worth it!

When we got home our house was painted and it looked great! Yay!

Colby and Alex’s Officiant speech by Ashley Katz
Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the wedding of Alexandria Christian Gamboa and Colby Christian Grand. My name is Ashley Katz. I am Colby’s favorite (and only) older sister. I am honored to be performing this special ceremony for two of my very favorite people. Colby Christian is known to many of you as Colby, myself included, and to others of you as Christian. I will refer to him as Colby Christian from now on, and to Alexandria as Alex.
Alex is honored to be accompanied by her grandmother, Wallie. She is also accompanied by her father, who is a passionate man who follows his dreams. He has told Alex on numerous occasions that he loves being a father. Alex’s mother, April Hicks is also here. Alex says she is a total badass. Alex finds inspiration in her mom’s entrepreneurial spirit and her desire to empower women. April owns a hair salon and boutique where Alex loves to shop.


Colby Christian is honored to be accompanied by our Grandpa, David Ordway, who has always been the voice of reason and the person our whole family looks to as our moral compass. He would like to acknowledge our beloved Grandma, Gretchen Ordway, who passed away this past March. She was a very special woman who loved and supported Colby Christian from the time he was born in too many ways to express. She gave to him his love of travel and sense of curiosity and awe for the simple things in life. He would also like to acknowledge his mother, Trudy Aline Grand, who is no doubt looking down today from heaven and smiling at the amazing man Colby Christian has become, which is in no small part due to her love, support and endless optimism. She instilled in him what it means to love people with all your heart as well as how to persevere in times of great adversity. Both of these phenomenal women visit us by sending humming birds so that we know they are always around sending their love and watching over the family. They live on in Colby Christian’s heart and who he is today.
    Alex is a strong woman who knows who she is. She is determined to succeed and full of ambition. Alex is capable of anything she puts her mind to. She has aspirations to make a difference in this world and she does. She has a strong group of friends that she calls her inner circle that are loyal to her, and love her fiercely. I have never met a group of woman that have more quality of character and love for a person than they have for her. In order to have friendships like that you have to be a pretty special person, and Alex certainly is. She is a very sincere person who I love being around. She’s also got some pretty snazzy dance moves like BeyoncΓ©, and in case you haven’t noticed, along with all her internal beauty, she is very stylish. One day Alex was wearing this little blue dress with straps on the top of the shoulders. Colby Christian said, “I think this is a school dress from Malaysia”. We looked it up and it totally was. Alex was totally rocking it and made it look super stylish.


           As for Colby Christian, he continues to amaze me with his desire to inspire. He loves to connect with other people through sending postcards to people he loves as well as people across the Earth. He is endlessly creative. He does his best to always be kind and polite to people and to the Earth. He loves to read and to quietly contemplate and process what is happening in the world and in his life. He is a minimalist. One time Freddy and I went to visit him, and he only had one plate, one cup and one pan. He turns to us and says, “We are going to have to eat in shifts.”


           As individuals These two are good people and as a couple they are phenomenal and complement each other well. They both value their family, and their close friends. Thank goodness for us, right? I think we can all agree that we are big fans of theirs and many of us are not so secretly hoping they will move back to California.


They both love to write and enjoy reading and poetry, which is part of what drew them to each other. Together they can do anything, and they are going to do great things in the future, of that I have no doubt. They love nature and try to spend as much time outside as possible. They both enjoy trying new things and exploring in a variety of places. They just got back from backpacking in Yosemite, where they got to be one with nature, in all its beauty and mystery. Not to mention the joys of going to the bathroom in the bushes. Together they will explore the world, and the world will be better for it.


           The couple met at Gold Arrow camp in the summer of 2011. One of their first interactions involved Colby Christian passing Alex a silly note. This started a fun, playful exchange of note passing. Do you like me? Check yes or no. They obviously checked yes. Over time their acquaintance became a friendship, and their friendship progressed from there. Even when he moved to Colorado, their relationship endured. Fast forward, and they fell in love. Alex knew that she loved Colby Christian. He is not one to made decisions lightly. He takes his time and waits until he is very sure of how he feels before expressing it, and because of this when he told Alex that he loved her and when he proposed she knew, with no doubt in her mind, that he was sincere.


           As an observer of their relationship and someone who has loved Colby Christian from the day he was born, meeting Alex and seeing them together is a delight. They complement each other. She is understanding and encouraging. She supports him and gives him both the attention he needs and the time to just enjoy the quiet. He gives her the companionship she so desires and opens her world to things she she would not do on her own. They both encouraged and supported each other through graduate school. They have been through many ups and downs with each other and have worked through them together and have become stronger as a couple and as best friends. They enter into this marriage as equal partners and each other’s true love.


           Alex, Colby Christian, I don’t think that any two people are more right for each other than the two of you. I have been lucky enough to have had my brothers as my best friends my entire life, and I could not be happier to be gaining Alex as a sister-in-law. I truly feel that I won the sister-in-law jackpot. Cha ching. This is a couple that loves and cherishes each other and are better together . Alex and Colby Christians are the loves of each others lives. I have heard from different people, “they are so good for each other”, “I hope I find a love like theirs.”


In the words of Joey Tribiani in Friends, “It’s a love based on giving and receiving, as well as having and sharing. And, the love that they give and have is shared and received. And through this having and giving, and sharing and receiving, we too can share and love and have and receive.”
There will now be a poem called “the invitation” read by Alex’s good friend, Katie.
Their love has grown like a seed that has been planted in friendship, watered with companionship, and fertilized with love and respect. Their roots are strong and will continue to become stronger and deeper over time and the flowers are blossoming through their vows to love each other today. As they continue to water their love, the fruits of their relationship will grow and flourish.


Everyone here loves and supports you in your love for each other. Marriage can be amazing and it can be very challenging. It takes commitment by both people and it takes family and friends to support you in your journey.  
We are the Vines in your garden - your circle of support intertwining and surrounding you with love. We all want the best for you both as a couple and as individuals. We will all be here to help you and remind you to always grow your love through communication, understanding and forgiveness of each other. Remember to always share your failures with each to lessen the burdens of your sorrow and share in the joy of each other’s successes. Through love and hard work the flowers of your love will continue to bloom throughout your lives.


Alex and Colby Christian are going to say the vows that they have written to each other.


Do you, Colby Christian take Alex to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do you part?


Do you, Alex take Colby Christian to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do you part?


Repeat after me:
 With this ring I thee wed.
 Let it be a reminder that I will be by your side as your faithful partner.
Repeat after me:
 With this ring I thee wed.
 Let it be a reminder that I will be by your side as your faithful partner.


By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.
You may kiss the bride.                                 
Thank you to everyone here, friends and family alike, for joining Alex and Colby Christian in their special day. Will immediate family, LMU friends and Gold Arrow friends please stay for pictures.
And now, please welcome for the first time ever Mr. And Mrs. Grand.

    Friday, July 14, 2017

    Summer so far


    We have been doing all kinds of fun stuff this summer. It has been going super fast! Swim team has been the bulk of our mornings of course and all of our Saturdays (except for one 4th of July weekend when we stayed home and really did nothing except play games and hang out. Camille joined us on Sunday).
       Gary and Jerri even stopped in for a quick visit and we met up with them for Dim Sum.
       Almost every Thursday we have gone to the beach (Twin Lakes) with the Lim family. We always enjoy our time with them. Even Oliven has really started enjoying the water. (3 times so far, and once with Colby and Alex - New Brighton Beach). We all really love the beach, and with Carrie it is very simple - the adults get adult chatting time and the kids get lots of kid time, which is great. We also followed tradition and went to the fireworks in Morgan Hill.
      We have been on two camping trips this summer. We started the summer with a trip to Mt. Madonna with Deb and Heather. Deb brought her cute little camper to sleep in. (I ended up feeling miserable with a UTI - Heather was very kind and took me to get some AZO at midnight). In the morning I came back to San Jose for some antibiotics. The first day while I was gone the boys went on a scavenger hunt hike with Deb and had a great time. (Oliven's favorite activity) We played lots of games and really enjoyed our time. Deb had a mystery ingredient dessert challenge for the boys with all kinds of different sweet treats. The adults got to vote on the best creation. It was Oliven, because Vander's was like the kitchen sink of desserts.
    Larry, Theresa, Jeff and Marie joined us the second day to hang out, have dinner, and eat s'mores with us. That night I went home to sleep cause I still wasn't feeling great and I drove back in the morning to pick the kids up to get home for swim practice. We had pancakes for breakfast (Vander's favorite part) They had a great time and it really was a treat to get to spend that time with Deb and Heather. I hope we can make this a tradition in the future.
       I attended Alex's bachelorette party in Solvang. I flew to Anaheim to see the Grand's. I was going to ride up with Annie to the party, but she felt very anxious about leaving Hattie for two nights, so I met up with Lindsay and took the train up. It was nice getting to know here better. That night it was mostly lounging in the pool, drinking ( I chose to wait for the next night, cause I don't like to drink two nights in a row), playing the Newlywed game, and chatting. Annie came the next morning and we headed to the wineries, which was very fun. I love hanging out with Annie. We saw Justin Hartley and got a picture of him. So cool. The rest of the day was drinking and hanging out. I couldn't sleep that night for some reason - probably all the alcohols mixed together. It was so much fun. What a great group of women! I did feel like the 10 year younger crowd had a very different vocabulary. I really needed a translator for some of it. We headed back to Anaheim and I got to spend the day at the Grand's house. What a fun weekend!
       Golfland was a treat this summer. I planned it for the swim team little kids. They had a choice of golfing or going on waterslides. My kids chose golfing and did all 18 holes. They really had a great time with each other. I walked through the course with them, but really just as a supervisor. It was a super hot day and the boys really enjoyed themselves.
       We went to Kyoto palace for my birthday meal as a family. It was Vander and Oliven's first time and I think they really enjoyed their selves.
       We took a trip to San Francisco with Gina, Daniel and Ruth for the day. We went to Golden Gate park to play at a park with a cement side. Oliven was very brave and went down the slide several times, we all rode the carousel and saw a lion that reminded us of Aslan (we are reading the Chronicles of Narnia right now as a family). Then we headed over to the Presidio and went to this really cool artsy path and walked down it at a leisurely pace. After that we decided to walk across the Golden Gate bridge. We made it 1/4 of the way, enjoyed the beautiful view (it was super windy and chilly) and headed back as it was a far walk for Ruth. We got in the car and accidentally crossed the Golden Gate bridge due to confusing signage. We decided since we were already in Sausalito to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant there, and it was really delicious (almost like Italy Italian pizza). We re-crossed the bridge and went to Ghiradelli (sp?) for a really yummy dessert. It was super good - not surprisingly. Then it was time to go home after a fun-filled day, with a good friend.
       The boat races and over nighter with swim team was really fun for Vander. Oliven didn't love it as much because he really wanted to play dodge ball and didn't really get a chance.
      That evening I went to a thank you dinner (for helping at Hannah's wedding on the 4th of July, which was an amazing wedding. It was casual around her pool and so unique). Colby and Alex came
    to town for a visit. The next day we headed out to Henry Cowell State park for some camping. We played games, had s'mores (of course), enjoyed each others company. We also went to the beach and all three of the boys played in the water despite it being very chilly. Oliven forgot his sandals, which created a big debauchal, with LOTS of wining and annoyance by everyone else. Ollie soaked his tennis shoes, and neither boy brought a sweatshirt. I doubt they will forget that again. Only time will tell. We went on an awesome hike and got a chance to see downtown Santa Cruz through the trees and enjoy the redwoods while Alex worked at Starbucks.
        Karen flew in to visit. I took her over to see Hannah's house, which was her house growing up. She loved it. It brought back all kinds of memories, good and bad. She also got to see a neighbor that was there when she was growing up and they caught up with each other. So cool. We also took her down to see the cabana club.
      Karen was excited to have an overlap trip with Colb and Alex. Alex had to work during the rest of her visit. :( We took a trip to the pool for the swim team's rootbeer float pool party. It was a bit frustrating because Oliven didn't want to come, but then he did, but he didn't get in the pool.
      We took Karen to the Winchester Mystery house, which she loved. In the mean time Vander, Ollie, and I got them haircuts, went to Big Five and Marshalls. It was very leisurely, and we got lots of steps in.
       On Friday I went in for Lasik surgery. I didn't really want to do it while Karen was here, but that was the appointment that they had, so I did it. It was a bit creepy to have a machine holding my eye open, but it was a pretty quick procedure. That night was pretty rough, but the next morning I felt pretty good. It's crazy that the eye is so resilient! Karen hung out with the boys during the surgery so Justin could take me. It's really amazing to wake up seeing and not need glasses or contacts. I still keep thinking that I need to take my contacts out at night. I am in the healing stages now, but it's so cool.
      Saturday morning Karen took me to the follow-up appointment and then we headed over to the swim meet. Karen was impressed and overwhelmed. There were a lot more people there than she had anticipated. That night was Family Fun night with pizza, cookies, and soda at the pool. It was of course delightful.
    Sunday was Cookbook Club (theme of "Stuffed") at our house. Karen made cheesecake strawberries and I made canneloni. There were only 6 of us total, so I used the China that Grandma Gretchen gave me when we got married. It was a nice afternoon and Karen got along great with my Cookbook club ladies.
      The highlight of Monday was playing the game Sushi Go and then Karen taking us out for all you can eat sushi for dinner at Mr. Sushi. Who knew 18 years after meeting Justin that I would really enjoy all you can eat sushi.
     Having Karen here to visit was really nice! We all really enjoyed her company and were happy to have her. Vander even let her use his bed while she was here and he slept on Oliven's floor. I think Karen was most shocked by how healthy we eat and I think she loved the fresh peaches on the tree. I hope she comes back again soon, and maybe Uncle Ken will join her. :)

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    Last Day of school

    Today was the last day of 1st and 3rd grade, so we celebrated by going out to lunch with the Lim family. It's tradition, and who are we to break tradition??? We decided to go to Golden House Chinese Food Restaurant because we all love it. We went to Baskin Robins for a scoop of ice cream afterwards and ended our afternoon together with a trip to the pool to play. It was nice to catch up with Carrie. Neither of us have had much time recently. The kids always enjoy their time together. It was a great way to end the school year.

    End of the school year

      We have so many plans for the summer...I hope not too many!!! The end of the school year went swimmingly (literally because of swim team, but figuratively as well). The end of the year is always a bit tough because swim team starts before baseball ends, so we were on two different schedules in the evening and some dinners had to be eaten at 3:30 and 4pm. Not ideal.
    Vander got to be on the Memorial Day tournament team this year. I think he really enjoyed it, but when it came time to do All Stars he decided that he wanted to pass and get into swimming for the summer.
      Oliven (and I) had a piano recital. This was the second one so far. He was of course adorable and did a great job. He comes into my bedroom almost every morning to say good morning and give me a double hug. He says, "this is the best part of my day so far." It's definitely my favorite part of every day. It is special and for me at least, sort of magical.
      As for me, recently were for me a performance for the 2nd and 6th graders (skits and a musical), which were great. I feel like I had a good first year as the music teacher and really brought the program to life. I look forward to learning from this year and doing even better next year.
      Last weekend Gary and Jerrie came for a quick visit as they were passing through and we met up with them at Dim Sum for a brunch.

    Vander's 9th birthday

    My big boy is 9 years old. He had a family party which included a chocolate peanut butter cake. Apparently the frosting is too sweet. Who knew that could happen for Vander??? 
      For Vander's 9th birthday he decided to have a sleepover with his best friend, Bella. He also invited Oliven's best friend, Jeremiah, to come sleep over at our house. The kids had a great time. They played outside, ate dinner, watched a movie called Justice League: City Breakout (Vander asked for popcorn and pretzels instead of a cake) and played Wii. In the morning they had blueberry pancakes. The sleeping arrangements were originally all four of them in a room, but that didn't work out so after an hour of "trying" to be quiet Oliven and Jeremiah went to Oliven's room for the night. They all had a great time and I would say without a doubt that the first attempt at a friend sleep over was a success.

    Saturday, May 13, 2017

    Hattie's first birthday

      Hattie had a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed birthday party this year. It was super cute. Annie really knows how to throw a party! It was really cool decorations and tons of fun. Hattie ended up very very red with frosting, which totally made the day. Lots of family and friends showed up to celebrate this cute little lady. This even included a surprise visit from Colby and Alex. They were in L.A. for Alex's little brother's graduation from college and happened to text Freddy to ask if he was around. Their flight had been cancelled by Spirit airlines, so they had the afternoon free.
     Oliven and I had flown down on Thursday for the birthday party and stayed until Monday afternoon so we could spend time with our favorite girls. You can't beat cousin time. We had a really nice trip to Anaheim. We went to a park and the library and enjoyed our time together. On Saturday all the kids were a mess. Oliven coughed all night on the Friday night and so he didn't sleep at all and he was crankier than I have ever seen him in his life. It was not pleasant. Molly wasn't feeling great because she needed medicine. Hattie was having teething issues as well as a double ear infection.
    Sunday, they were all feeling better and everyone enjoyed celebrating with Hattie Bear.