Sunday, March 30, 2014

Maybe I'll try to blog once a week.

Maybe or maybe not. A new year's resolution this isn't, but I have so enjoyed doing it the last couple of weeks that I wanted to today, too...even though all I have is this picture of mine and Naomi's painted fingernails.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vegas, Baby!

Last Thursday, Claire and her boys had a layover in LAX, so Michael, Naomi and I drove over to see them for a little while. It was so wonderful to get hugs from them all and to sit and chat. The kids all ignored each other until I said the magic L-word, Lego, which broke the ice. Theo and Luc showed Michael the Lego sets they got for the trip and the other stuff they brought for the plane.

After we got home from the airport, I took a nap because I had a six hour drive ahead of me Thursday evening. Heather turns 16 in just over two weeks and so she and I took off as soon as school was out. My sister Sara took Summer to NYC for her sixteenth birthday and Rachel to San Fransisco for hers, but now she has a husband and other vacation plans (one of which includes coming to see us this summer - yay, we can't wait!) so I told Heather I would take her on a road trip.

Heather is interested in aerial circus performances, so she chose going to a Cirque du Soliel show in Las Vegas. We headed up to Southern Utah first to see Grandma Spencer, the Craigs and the Bangs. Heather, Cynthia, Mother and I went shopping on Friday, I took nap and helped make dinner. Then, the surprise for Heather showed up! Summer, Rachel, and their boyfriendscame down from Provo. It was so great to see them, even for a little while. We had dinner, cake and ice cream for Heather and watched Frozen Friday night.

Saturday morning, Cynthia, Nikki and Jake made us a big, delicious breakfast and then we used some of the calories up hiking to look at some petroglyphs not far from their house. Here are Cynthia and I chatting away in the sunshine.

Will and Jake checking out the goat family.

Heather and Tristan with the Craig's adorable little dog Ryah (total guess on the spelling).

Saturday after lunch, Heather and I reluctantly left our loved ones behind and headed to Vegas, slowly getting excited as the time passed for our big night out. After agonizing way too long over the price, we finally decided to bite the bullet and eat at the buffet the hotel clerk recommended. Even though it was expensive, for a once in a lifetime trip, it was totally worth it. Almost all the food was delicious and it was so much fun being able to eat so many different things!

Here is my (first) plate - 

1. California roll
2. spring roll
3. cocktail sauce
4. fried calamari
5. crab legs (I went back for seconds!)
6. steamed clams (my favorite food as a kid - I ate at least a dozen)
7. heart of palm (I had never had this before - delicious!)
8. crayfish
9. Brussels sprout (trying to eat my vegetables)
10. mussels
11. fresh pineapple (with an antennae)
12. clarified butter
13. sweet potato casserole
14. white truffle cheesy potatoes (amazing)
15. lamb with mint jelly (Heather thought that was gross, but I told her that is how we always had it when I was a kid)
16. lemons (obviously)
17. oyster on the half shell (I kept the shell for a souvenir)

Whew! Do you know when the next Shellfish Anonymous meeting is?

Here is my beautiful, fascinating almost 16 year old date for dinner in her new birthday shirt :)

We stuffed ourselves and then went to the dessert bar. Big mistake. We should have saved more room. That didn't stop us from choosing, yes, fifteen desserts between the two of us. It is a good thing the portions were tiny. Smart buffet people! We tasted each others' stuff and reluctantly, didn't finish every last bite, but oh my, they were good. My favorites were the sorbets and souffle. Mmmmmmm!

Here's the lineup - 

1. hazelnut chocolate cup
2. cheesecake
3. canolis
4. coconut macaroon
5. meringues
6. cookie dough gelato
7. raspberry sorbet
8. mango sorbet
9. coconut sorbet
10. bread pudding
11. chocolate souffle
12. chocolate marshmallow bark
13. flan
14. raspberry pistachio cup
15. mint chocolate chip gelato

We wobbled out of there and booked it over to our show. We saw Mystere. It was supposed to be the most family friendly Cirque show, and it pretty much was, except for when the clown gave the ringmaster the bird. Oh well.

The performers were absolutely amazing! There were balancing acts, trapeze artists, a woman on aerial silks that took my breath away, these two incredibly strong men that contorted and balanced on each other, people climbing up poles (one guy did it with just his hands touching the pole and his body held out away from it) and sliding down headfirst, then stopping just in time, flipping, dancing, twisting, and flying everywhere! It was so fun!

We collapsed in our hotel room, slept a while, then woke up this morning, ate a quick breakfast, stopped by at a nearby sacrament meeting and headed home. 

It was a wonderful trip and I am so glad I could spend time with Heather. Happy early birthday, Darling!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Super Saturday

Yesterday was SO MUCH FUN. We spent the day doing stuff as a family (78% of a family - we missed you Summer & Rachel!). It doesn't get much better than that (unless we are 100% percent anyway).

We started off at the Orange County Marble Show.

There were chances to learn from marble experts.

 And lots of opportunities to ooh and ah over cool marbles... this one which was maybe 2 inches in diameter and had a city inside.

There were nifty wood things to display your marble collection on.

One nice guy told the kids that they could each pick out ten of these marbles for free - fun!

I took a while choosing some beautiful marbles made by the Santa-esque guy in the marble vest. He made all these at the Jabo plant. He told me you can rent the equipment and make your own marbles. When I bought ten of his marbles, he said, "Thank you for liking my art." I really liked that. I'll have to say that whenever someone buys a book from me (if I ever get around to selling them).

This was my favorite table. If I had money to burn, I would have had a bonfire right here! The guy takes credit cards because...

...he was selling all these gorgeous marbles from different artists. They were expensive. 

My favorite ones were the galaxy marbles like in the picture below. They were amazing! It was really like holding a little universe in your hand. Because you look through a convex surface, it looks so much bigger inside than you expect. I picked up my favorite and asked, "How much?" He nonchalantly said, "Oh, for that one, $5,000.00." Eek!

While the kids were waiting for me to make my final purchases, I let them mess around with my camera in the hall of the hotel. This was my favorite snapshot, by far.

We got back on the freeway and headed to the beach! Woohoo!

It was an unusual day at the beach. For one thing, we saw a sea lion swim up close where the people were swimming! By this photo, he (she?) was further away, but at one point, the sea lion was as close to the sand as where the water would come up to my torso. He (for the sake of simplicity) popped up and the woman swimming close to him yelled and ran for shore. The sea lion simultaneously yelped and dove in the opposite direction. I don't know who was more startled.

The other weird thing that happened was that Gwen was stung by a stingray! We have been going to that beach for decades and that has NEVER happened. She was in pain and bloody, so Stan and I went to ask the lifeguard what to do for her and he called another lifeguard who came and picked her up in a jeep. He took her back to the lifeguard station where they have buckets and hot water, just for stingray victims. Yeah, victims plural. There were four others when she got there and five new ones when she left. They just kept moving down the row as new victims arrived and chatted while they filled up with new hot water as the buckets cooled off. One of the lifeguards said there were more stings yesterday because the water was calmer than usual and stingrays like calm water. Chalk one up for rough surf, huh?

I didn't get a lot of pictures, but here is one of my boy at the beach. One of the best things about the beach was hanging out with the Pellegrinos :)

And, finally, some of the marbles I bought. The two dark ones are Stan's, the two small ones are vintage, the two marbles next to the biggest one were made by Santa Claus Man and the last one, the purple and green is a
Jabo Joker 3 Run.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

I really miss this blog.

So, while Kelly and her sisters made dinner, I emptied the camera and curated, just for you, an exhibit of our lives from the last few weeks. 

Naomi had a birthday.

Michael raced in the pinewood derby. He came in 2nd for his age group and 3rd overall.

After all these years of taking kids on their turn for the homeschooling whale watching trip, I took my last two kids. It is hard to believe how everyone is growing up. This past week was Michael and Naomi's turn. It was a great trip. 

We saw a great blue heron looking for lunch...

...and lots of cormorants with a few pelicans mixed in...

...California sea lions lounging around...

...and from my view on the upper deck, a couple of cute kids.

Of course, what we were all most excited about was the opportunity to see some cetaceans!

The captain was able to find a bottlenose dolphin willing to surf the waves in front of the boat and we got a close up view. I learned something new on this trip. Bottlenose dolphin mothers name their offspring with a unique whistle that the dolphins then introduce themselves to other dolphins with for the rest of their lives.

We also saw more whales (all gray whales) on this trip than any other - seven in all! It was amazing :)

Here are two swimming together...

...and the tail of one diving.

The kids had some ocean science instruction on the trip back.

On to other exciting news - Naomi let her Dad pull a tooth.

Finally, some pretty pictures. I took the plunge and, in spite of my black thumb, bought some new house plants. I plan on hanging them in the window when I get around to it, but until then, they have a home on the kitchen counter. They are tillandsias, or air plants and they don't need dirt. I just soak them in a bowl of water every few days. Fun, huh?

I think they are really nifty...

...and was especially thrilled when one bloomed!