Monday, March 31, 2008

Wrap Up

On the last day of our trip we cleaned, packed and headed north to the airport. We drove up highway 1 to Half Moon Bay and cut over to the airport. The craziest thing was that when we went to fill up the car with gas, we got off the freeway and they were selling gas for $4.41/gallon. What the heck? Another block down and it was $3.60.

At the airport K's bag weighed over 50 pounds so she had to unload some of the stuff. T's weighed 25. The problem was the honey. K had no room, T said he was full too. They headed off to security where the honey was confiscated and thrown away. That was about $25 down the drain and K was NOT happy. I felt really, really bad for her.

After giving up our seats on the airplane, we ended up staying at a hotel by the airport and T and K flew back home.

A great trip, and I probably made the telling of it last WAY too long.

Now that I have been back home for over 1 week, I am getting into the final push to finish school. I have been reading a ton, writing a ton, and wasting a lot of time in between. I justify my time wastage as mental health time, but in reality I am just plain ol' wasting time.

The girl assigned to look over my research paper and give suggestions gave some GREAT suggestions and I was so happy that I got partnered with her. She also offered to read my draft before I turn it in, for helpful hints on punctuation. I had confessed to the entire class that I apparently have horrible punctuation problems, so she was kind enough to help out. Coming from a girl whose own research paper was amazingly good, I am feeling blessed by her offer to help. I am especially surprised because she is having to do finals too, it isn't like any of the students have a lot of time to spare, and yet she offered to help me. What a nice girl!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cal: Day Four

Today was the day we were going to toodle around Carmel and Monterey. We headed straight for a yarn shop that K wanted to go to. The boys were fairly willing participants, without too much grumbling. The lady in the shop approached me to see if I needed help and I pointed her over to K, telling her that K was the one she needed to impress. K bought a few skeins and a couple of magazines that are apparently out of print and she can resale on Ebay for a profit. Nice.

We then headed to town where we wandered around Sur La Table. I love kitchen stores. After that H and T took off towards the airplane shop and the toy shop. While they did this K and I looked around Anthropologie. I can't remember if they spell it that way, or the correct way, Anthropology. The clothes there were GORGEOUS. So beautiful, well made, and way, way over my normal clothing budget. We spent a good deal of time there. We met up with the boys along the main drag, Ocean Street, and hit up a few stores. Then we headed to Monterey. We did the same thing there, hit up a few stores, went to the water and looked around. It was fun. I found a cool silver ring with a butterfly on it for my mother, to thank her for watching the kids. She likes butterflies and the wings on this little guy kind of move, not exactly as gracefully as a real butterfly, but the thought was nice. :)

After Monterey we went to Rite Aid to pick up a Rx for K. She had been struggling with some kind of head cold/sinus infection thing the whole week. We then headed back to the house and made dinner. Okay, wait a minute. I just realized that we watched Enchanted on this night, not the previous night. Geez, one week later and I am already getting the details mixed up.

Despite my memory deficiencies, on this night I know that we went to the 7th hole with a loaf of sourdough bread and some brie cheese and ate our appetizer while looking out over the ocean. It was a bit cold so it wasn't exactly a majorly romantic event. Oh well. We checked out some of the other houses along the golf course, one of which had an electric fence surrounding it. You could literally hear the crackling of the electrical current as we were walking by. Nothing says you are unwelcome like an electric shock, better than a No Trespassing sign actually.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cal: Day Three

We slept in. At about 12:00 we headed up Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. On the way we were seeing all kinds of roadside fruit stands, so I had to stop. I ordered the car to a halt, and T was happy to oblige. H and I bought some artichokes, strawberries, oranges and mangoes. K ended up buying some pricey honey to give to her loved ones who watched her children while they were away. (Check back on day 5 for what happened to the expensive honey.) One was avocado honey and the other lavender honey.

We loaded back up and got to Santa Cruz. The boardwalk was pretty slow, half of it was shut down. But there were also a LOT less people than in the middle of summer. We didn't ride any rides, but we did buy a hand dipped corn dog and some garlic fries to share. Good thing, ultra big moolah for two food items and one drink. But they were good, real good. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Vacation=food? We also bought a shark tooth necklace for M's present and added that to his Easter basket.

T was looking for an ultra cool kite but they didn't really have what he was looking for on the boardwalk so we headed downtown which is where one of the boardwalk workers told us to go.

We parked, checked out the location of the alleged kite store and alas, there was no kite store. So we wandered a bit further and there was a book store which we all kind of got lost in for about 30 minutes or so. T, H and I headed back to the car while K had another errand she wanted to run. As the three of us approached the car there was a pink piece of paper on the dash. H says, "Is that a ticket?" No way. A pink ticket? Sure enough, it was a $20 parking ticket. Apparently between the four of us we had 0 brain cells working because none of us remembered to put any money into the meter. Oops. So we got the $20, went to buy a money order (no cash accepted) and a postage stamp and mailed that baby off. Stupid.

We swore off Santa Cruz, at least for another year or so, and drove back to Carmel. We made dinner and watched Enchanted (new on DVD). I konked out, of course, and H ended up doing all the dishes. He wasn't too happy about it, and I can't blame him but I was kinda out of it. This is my problem, I get on a couch and pretty soon I am horizontal and my eyes close within 30 seconds of my head hitting the pillow. Another fun day that just plum wore me out. Did I mention that the weather was perfect? Sunshine, blue skies, slight breeze. Amazing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cal: Day Two

We woke up in the morning ready to get moving. We checked out of the hotel and started driving south. Karen and I had leftover bread and the smoothest cream cheese for breakfast, the boys had McD's. We drove to Gilroy where there are outlet stores because T forgot to pack shirts and K didn't want him alternating between those two shirts for the entire trip. While we were looking in different stores H and I were able to do the impossible: We finally bought H some jeans. He has 1 pair of jeans right now and they are too short, but I really like how he looks in jeans. The trouble is that H thinks he looks fat in jeans, that somehow they accentuate a large, bulbous behind. Have I told you lately that when it comes to H's fanny, he is delusional? So we bought not just any pair of jeans, but some Levi's 501s. It is like H is just discovering the beauty of the jean and has to start with the basics. He ended up wearing them a couple of times on the trip and he looked really great in them.

After all that shopping we got ourselves down to Carmel. We arrived at the house around mid afternoon and it was gorgeous. Blue skies, green grass (14th hole on Pebble Beach) and the yard was looking amazing. Flowers in bloom, birds in the bushes. It was idyllic. We hauled our stuff in and I immediately went to the front porch to sit. This is the place I love best at that house, the porch. Okay, the kitchen ties for first, but for the perfect spot to sip something cool with a great view, you cannot beat the porch. We found out we had wifi access (yippee!) and checked in with email and stuff (and by stuff I mean our bank account). We played a couple of rounds of pool. I admit that T won both games, DANGIT! My competitive nature had a hard time with this. Then we headed off for dinner and to Trader Joe's. Originally we were going to make our own dinner on Wed night but it had gotten a bit late and we were kind of tired and didn't want to fix food, so we got dinner at.....drum roll please.....Chipotle. (Yes, Brittany, that was for you!) We had heard good things about Chipotle and they were all true. We loved our meal, so fresh, so yummy. And the guacomole was perfect!

We bought a bunch of food at TJ's, including a bunch of candy and sweet stuff and headed home. T put in a video and I promptly fell asleep, on the couch. H woke me up and off I went to bed and that ended day two. Sorry no pics, but our official trip photographer took over at this point and I am counting on her to get me copies of the photographs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

California Trip, day 1

We flew into SFO and arrived about 12:30. We picked up the rental car, drove to our hotel, dropped off our junk and arrived in the city around 3:00 p.m. We went immediately to the Ferry Building which houses high end food shops. Karen had read about the Acme Bakery and when we looked it up we found out that we could also hit up the Cowgirl Creamery, Scharffen Berger Chocolate and Miette (bakery). (We also wanted to go to Sur La Table but we never made it there in San Fran.) We planned to eat lunch by buying some yummy bread and cheese, with a chocolate dessert.

We went to the Acme Bakery and it was mm, mm, good. H and I bought a sweet dough bagette. Then we went to the Cowgirl Creamery which totally reeked, and by reek I don't mean the 80s version of the word that means it was nasty, I mean it smelled bad, way bad. Cheese shops aren't exactly a paradise for a person with a sensitive nose. However, we purchased a Gruyere (swiss like) and a Tome de Haute Savoie (softer cheese, medium in boldness). I also got a few fancy olives. Boy, the bread and cheese were amazing. Even Travis who couldn't bring himself to even enter the cheese shop was raving over the flavors.

At SB's I bought a Mexican Chocolate truffle. It had cinnamon and jabanero in it. It was chocolate with a slight kick. Amazing.

At Miette we bought a few items, but my main purchase was a lemon tart. I didn't eat it until the next day but it was so good. I love lemon, but a good lemon tart really rocks my world. (For all my weight watching friends out there, it would be safe at this point to say that I did not follow any kind of meal plan while I was away, unless you count my plan to eat everything that looked good, I followed that plan just fine!)

We then went to Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, Union Square and then drove down Lombard Street. Then we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. Here are my favorite pics from the bridge.

After looking at this pic, Harold says that he can see why people think Karen and I are sisters.

My man in San Fran

The Boys

After the bridge we went to a restaurant and had dinner. After that we went back to the hotel for some sleep. All four of us in one room, being as cheap as we are. But it worked out fine, except that none of us really slept at all. The bed was comfortable enough and it wasn't too hot or too cold, so I have no explanation for not being able to sleep. I am not sure what everyone else's complaint was, but we were all a little tired the next day. But when you are on vacation without the kids you can really find energy you didn't know you have.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

She's Back

While our trip was wonderful, and I will expound on that later, I would like to share what happened the last day.

We were at the airport and our flight was oversold, so Delta was asking for volunteers to get bumped from the flight for $400 in Delta flight vouchers. On a whim we volunteered, just because we could, not because we actually expected to get bumped. But lo and behold, we got bumped. We got a total of $800 in vouchers, they put us up at a hotel in South San Fran, gave us meal vouchers and flew us home first class this morning (Sunday).

When I found out that we were actually going to be bumped I cried, literally. After we volunteered I felt like I was so tired and just wanted to get home, but now that I am home that voucher money is going to come in handy. Of course we have thought of a zillion exotic locations whereto we could use the vouchers, but we told the kids that they would be included, because they sacrificed too. So, undoubtedly we will use the vouchers to see a family member at some point in the next year, but we have no idea which ones. I guess it all depends on who woos us in the most persuasive way! :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Last Day Blues

I know nobody feels sorry for me, but here I sit, in Carmel, California, looking over the Pacific Ocean in 60 degree weather, blue skies, beautiful green grass, shrubbery, and trees and it is our last sunset before we book it home.

We have had a fantastic time. We have done the quick touristy tour of San Fran, Carmel, Santa Cruz, and Monterey. We have eaten too much, watched bad golfers and good golfers, we have played games, watched videos, walked a ton, and shopped in a bazillion quaint little shops. This has been a perfect couples vacation.

We are all in agreement that if we suddenly came into millions of dollars we would make Georgia an offer. Not that she or her family would want her to take it, but we would have to try at least. This is such a perfect place. Such a beautiful house, beautiful gardens, beautiful view. There are so many other humongous houses here, but Georgia's house is the best by far. This is the perfect place because it has all the amenities without being pretentious in any way.

One of the grandest things about this place is it's owner, who willingly invites and allows remote relatives to enjoy its splendor. Thank you to Georgia, with our most heartfelt gratitude.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's Finally Here

Our First Stop:

I can't help it, I'm excited. We are less than 12 hours away from taking off to California. I am packed and ready, the kids are packed and ready, but Harold has yet to pack. I know, you all are slack-jawed. The house is in need of a tidying and that will be done tomorrow morning.

Our Second and Final Stop:

After much complaining about the homework I am NOT going to get done while I am away, I have finally decided to let it go. I don't want to worry about it. I know I will pay for it when I return, but I just can't spend my vacation time with my wonderful husband worrying about writing a 10-12 page paper. I will still bring my reading, so I will stay caught up in that regard.

Thanks Mom and Dad for helping out by watching the kiddos. I am sure when you moved here you weren't thinking that we were going to start hitting you up so often!

P.S. I saw baby Ella today and I can say that she is by far the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. I am not kidding, that baby is gorgeous. Nice job Abbie (and Scott!)

P.P.S. I forgot to wear green today, but alas no one pinched me. Too bad, I have a lot of butt to pinch, it would have been fun.

P.P.P.S. I will be screening my phone calls while away.

P.P.P.P.S. Toodles!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Wolf In Our Midst

I spent a good 15 minutes today passing off the last of the requirements needed to make my son a Wolf scout. He and I marched up to the front of the meeting and received the patch and the mother's pin. While it is nice to be recognized as the mother of the scout, I would also like to recognize a loving, attentive father in the process as well as a terrific den leader whose signature is on that book just as often as mine. Thank you Ann. I knew what a great leader he had, but I appreciate it even more now.....and I think you know why that is.

FYI: Harold calls Mack a "woof," whereas I say "wolf" with the L clearly enunciated.

I am sure I aced my second YA Lit midterm today. I studied for all of 10 minutes. I shouldn't admit that, but it is true. I pay attention in class and take copious notes, and therefore have all the information at my fingertips for the 10-minute Super Study Session. (Can you smell the sarcasm?)

I am feeling less stressed today, thank goodness. I think Harold is just as stressed out as I am, about me being in school that is. He has been struggling as the supportive husband and before things get even uglier before the semester is over I feel I should say a very big thank you to a great husband who insisted I go back to school to finish up. I could not have done this without you. Hey, I have an idea....after I graduate let's take the kids and go to Disneyland.

Can you hear our Wolf howling at the moon?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gentle Readers

My sincerest apologies for not checking in sooner. After almost 1 week of no posting, I should be ashamed. I do feel kinda bad, but not really. As most of you know I am extremely stressed out and super busy with midterms, extra reading in both English classes for major papers, getting ready to go out of town (I know, I'm not going to get any sympathy for that one), etc, etc.

On top of all that, today on his way to work Harold was driving the van and it started making horrific noises. No, it didn't blow up, but he thought it might. We can't drive it until we get it checked out and financially that is just not going to happen until after the trip (our priorities aren't always this screwed up, but when you have already purchased airline tickets, you can't just NOT go).

It is no wonder that when I went for a post-cancer checkup today my blood pressure was measured as astronomical. However, I am sure the first lady who tried 3 times to get a decent read had misplaced the cuff. At the end of the visit, another MA came in and measured my BP at 120/80, which is just fine. Being told you have high blood pressure can really make your blood pressure sky rocket. I was feeling even more stressed and my face was flush and I was freaking out. Turns out it was nothing to worry about, and it really was not high BP, just an MA with poor BP taking skills.

I have decided to look at our car troubles as a blessing. When we have trouble, we humble ourselves and turn to the Lord. Obviously the Lord is wanting us close, which can only be perceived as a blessing. Deep cleansing breaths,

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Beginnings

On Sunday I overheard a telephone conversation between Sav and her Beehive leader. Sav had apparently volunteered to play the piano for New Beginnings, two nights away. She looked at the Simplified Hymn book and found two songs she felt she could learn in the time alloted and gave the names to her leader: High On The Mountain Top and God Be With You til We Meet Again. I was completely shocked by her boldness. What daughter of mine would dare volunteer for such a job when she has had only 1 year of piano lessons?

I proceeded to drill her about what this undertaking would require: Practice, practice, practice. Then when you think you have it mastered, ask me to come in and sing for you because playing the piano while someone is singing is a whole different ballgame than just playing. I asked her on Tuesday if she was ready. "I got it down," she says. Okay, let's hear it while I sing. I proceeded to sing, and it wasn't too pretty. High on the mountain was the worst, so I told her that her father or I would play that one and she only needed to master the other. Even that song was super sketchy. She realized this when I started singing with her and she kept having to stop and was replaying notes she had missed. She kept trying and trying, with the occasional bout of tears thrown in for good tweenage measure. On the way to the church I said, "Start praying, it's the only thing that gets me through Primary every week." So I looked in the rear view mirror and there sat my sweet girl, head bowed, arms folded, saying a silent prayer.

We arrived at the church and she wanted to practice some more, but couldn't due to time restraints. The meeting was over pretty quickly and there went Sav to play the closing song. She did the intro like we discussed and proceeded to play. And while she played and I sang I was overcome with love for my little girl who is the boldest, bravest, most amazing girl I know. I cried silently while her prayer and mine were answered.

I am not sure where she gets her courage or her complete faith in herself, but I love it and even though I have a hard time relating to her sometimes, last night I think I saw her through Heavenly Father's eyes and she is pretty amazing.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Heart of a Poet

My nonfiction professor is in some kind of a committee wherein they decide whether or not students graduating with a degree in English are meeting their "Expected Outcomes." There are a series of statements for each major on campus with this title and these statements are the objectives of the entire department in assuring a well-rounded education in each field of study.

Having said that, my professor came to class today with a quiz for us to take on poetry. Apparently the chair of the English Department feels that this is a weak area for students graduating with an English degree.

So there are about 5 different poems and 18 questions with regards to analyzation of said poetry as well as mechanics and technical terms. The tests were anonymous, much to my delight because I wouldn't call myself any kind of expert on poetry. However, of the 18 questions, I got 16 right. Before you go jumping for joy I would like to make a disclaimer here. I had to make what I call a guess on about 12 of those questions. I can analyze meaning just fine, but get into the technical terms and I'm out. I was thrilled with the results, even though nobody but me and my reading public will know of my self-proclaimed brilliance in poetry. Needless to say I came out of that class feeling like a million bucks. Deep in my intellectual soul there must be some knowledge lurking that comes to the surface in the form of a "go with your gut" kind of feeling when I'm under pressure.