Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Little More CA

We had a fun and relaxing Spring Break vacation in California.  Greg and I spent a couple of nights at the Berkeley City Club, a historic hotel designed by Julia Morgan, the architect of Hearst Castle.  I got to swim in this pool:
So fantastic!  It is completely tiled with these itty bitty tiles.  The whole hotel was beautiful, and we would have had a terrific view of San Francisco but it was so rainy that we couldn't even see the Bay.  We had planned to take a ferry and bike around Angel Island, but as we couldn't even see Angel Island, we spent a lot of time lazily reading and eating bread from Acme:

Oh, my.  Rats.  Now I am hungry for Acme, and believe me, there is nothing remotely close to it here in San Antonio.  But we DO have... um... fruit cups?  Paletas?  Mexican food--we have A LOT of Mexican food.

The girls had fun picking oranges with Grandpa:

And we had a good time at the Mrs. Grossman's sticker factory in Petaluma:

We also got to spend time with some of our best friends.  Dinner and games with the Browns is always a good time.  If they HAD to leave San Antonio (and they did have to--the Air Force said so), I am so grateful that they moved to Northern California where we can still see them:
Remember when it was just us parents and Ella and Scottie?  (I know, I know, he goes by Scott now.)  Look at all the humanity we (well, mostly you) have created!

I also got to see me best friends from high school, Maureen and Kendra, and meet their newest little girls.  It stinks to be so far away, but we've got ties that bind, baby!  Natalie took this picture for us:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

American Girls Day Out

I got all excited about finally finishing a couple posts about Disneyland and cruised right on ahead to other things, forgetting that our vacation did not end when we left The Magic Kingdom.  After our Disney adventure we drove north to my parents' house, and before we left LA all the girls had lunch at American Girl Place.  (The boys went to a movie.)  It was quite an experience, let me tell you.  Three girls, three dolls, two moms, and one grandma.  The food was very cute and pretty tasty, too.  I especially liked the black, white, and pink decor of the cafe--tres chic!

Lora bought all the girls and their dolls matching jammies.  Match to match!

Natalie got a new doll (her previous doll was a Target knock-off).  They both have green eyes and freckles, and notice how the brand-new doll's hair is already starting to resemble Natalie's.  Hmmm...

Ella already had a "Just Like Me" doll, but she bought her some glasses and had her ears pierced to really clinch the uncanny resemblance.

Livy's "Googly Eyes" perfectly described the whole experience.

Early Morning Madness

I MADE IT!  36 weeks of early morning Seminary done!  I survived getting up at 5am every day, devoting all day every Saturday to lesson planning, and facing occasionally surly teenagers every morning.  And did I mention that I was exhausted nearly every waking minute?  I was truly carried through the year by the hand of the Lord--I never, ever thought I could do it be myself.  I stressed all summer about the impending classes, how I would fit in everything I had to accomplish every day (getting dinner on the table, having lucid conversations with my husband and children, keeping the house reasonably clean, getting some exercise) and what it would be like to face the class of 11 each morning, most of whom I did not know very well.  I got through the very first day, all the kids left, I went into the kitchen and said to Greg, "I've got to do it all over again tomorrow!" and promptly burst into tears.  After the first few weeks it got a lot better--I was more comfortable with teaching and with the kids, and my body eased into its new routine.  (For weeks, every day at about 10am my stomach would start screaming that it was lunch time.)  And now that the first year is over, it is hard to put into words what an amazing experience it was, all that I have learned and how deeply I love each of my students. 

Here are some of the fun times we had throughout the year:

This was our Joseph play, written, produced, and performed by the class.  (Costumes coutesy of my box of random fancy fabrics.)

 We celebrated 11/11/11 with a series of 11-related activities.  We even had 11 students!  Erika make the excellent "11" brownies.

 For Christmas we made gingerbread Tabernacles, as in Moses' ancient tabernacle, complete with a laver, an altar of sacrifice, and Sour Patch priests.  Dig the fruit roll roofing material!

The one thing I remembered from my own Old Testament year of Seminary as a teenager was slinging marshmallows at a huge Goliath, so I knew I'd have to do the same as a teacher.  The boys REALLY liked it.

We liked a good play.  This was an Esther play (also student-written) performed for our Purim celebration as we studied Esther.

Assorted Treats

Here are some of the treats I am most proud of from the last few months:
My baking buddy Emmie saw these panda cookies online and wanted to try them.  Some turned out lopsqat, but aren't they darling?
I made these sugar cookies for Julianne's baby shower, and they are by far the most successful flooded icing cookies I have ever made.  I owe it all to the creative genius and inspiration (and cookie cutter) of the great Kristen Fenton.
These were for April Fool's Day, of course.  When I shaved the white chocolate "Parmesan cheese" on top I really cracked up.  The "meatballs"are Ferrer-Roche chocolates (nice and bumpy), the "sauce" is strawberry jam.  The cakes themselves were also strawberry, and ooh, they were tasty. (Disclaimer:  I have a couple of very creative cupcake books, you see.  I don't come up with any of this stuff on my own.  I'm not terribly creative, I'm just good at following directions.)

Our Happiest Moments

What made us happiest on our trip to The Happiest Place on Earth?  I'll show you:

COUSINS!  I don't think "overjoyed" is too strong a word to describe how these cousins felt about seeing each other again.  It was all skipping and hugging and hand-holding our first night together, and our dinner at Goofy's Kitchen (with Snow White, Aurora, Chip, Dale, Goofy, Pluto, and Minnie) was a big hit.

MICKEY!  Look at Nat's face!  She loved meeting all the characters (even the evil ones like The Queen of Hearts and Snow White's Queen) but was especially thrilled to meet Mickey Mouse.

COTTON CANDY!  Grandma indulged her girls in a sweet treat while waiting for Oscar to ride California Screamin'--I think he would have ridden it every day, all day if we had let him.

MATTERHORN MACAROONS AND MAD HATS!  Oh, the macaroons.  The Dole Whip wasn't as good as I remembered it, and the cookies and cupcakes we tried all looked better than they tasted, but the Matterhorn Macaroons!  They were divine, worth every calorie.  And do you like my hat?  It was my birthday present to me, and I loved it.

THE DARK LORD!  For Oscar, the only thing cooler than California Screamin' was the chance to meet, and later fight, Darth Vader.  He was HUGE and very imperious--kind of scary, really, as he should be.

PRINCESS KISSES!  Belle gave Oscar a big, red smooch, which he rather liked.  Our hearts were melting, then she offered him her hand.  He looked at her hand in his, then looked at her.  She nodded and said, "Go for it," and he kissed her hand!  It was possibly me very favorite moment of the whole trip.

MINT JULEPS AND BEIGNETS!  In all of my trips to Disneyland I had never sampled the beignets from the French Market, and I now know I had been missing out!  Fresh and hot, crispy and chewy, and shaped like Mickey! 

BROTHERLY LOVE!  Jake and Greg got plenty of snuggle time together--only mildly disturbing, isn't it?

ARR, PIRATES!  Grandma's favorite thing was taking all her grandkids on her favorite ride, Pirates of the Caribbean.  Yo, ho, ho!

MAGIC!  Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother taught us how to pose with "princess hands".  Love those Princesses!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We're All Ears

Ah, Disneyland! If you know me even a little bit, you probably know that I just love Disneyland. Can't get enough of it! The moment I leave I want to go back again. I love the rides, the character meet-and-greets, the shows, the food, and the EARS! Where else on Earth can you wear ridiculous headgear without recrimination? Here are some of our best ears: Natalie, of course, chose the sparkliest, blingiest ears available:
Ella went with a more mature plaid look:
Pretty in Pink: my brother Jake donned his daughter Livy's ears for the camera.
I tie-dyed Mickey ear t-shirts for the whole group. (Find the directions HERE) I went through many, many shirts and seemingly gallons of dye, but the finished products turned out pretty good. It was fun to match for a day.

This One's For You, Brandy

My friend Brandy recently gave me heck for not updating my blog. Clearly she does not understand the genius behind my "six-month delay plan". It keeps you guessing, does it not? You ask yourself, "Will she post something recent, or something from last year?" I like to keep my audience (of, I suspect, about 5 people) on their toes. While in California I got to see the aforementioned Brandy, which was super fun. She brought me a box of See's chocolates for my birthday (she knows they are my favorite, and generally unavailable in San Antonio) and then let me drive her Porsche!!! (It's pronounced "Por-shuh", lest you commit the faux-pas I did of saying "Porsh".) Hoo-boy! I drove it a few yards around the parking lot and it was delightful. Thanks, Brandy, for being a good friend lo these many years and for being so kind and thoughtful. I love you!

California Here We Come!

We spent two weeks in California in March, starting in L.A. and ending with my parents in Walnut Creek. While in Southern CA we spent a really fun day at Leo Carillo State Beach near Malibu. (I was surprised not to see Matthew McConaughey running around with his shirt off, because if People Magazine is to be believed, he is pretty much always running around Malibu with his shirt off.) We built sand castles, played in the waves (Nat likes to stay in the water until her lips are blue), and explored tide pools. We saw a million crabs of all sizes, a zillion starfish in every color, and one sea slug that inked. Great day.


T.N.T.: that's Thomas, Natalie, and Tyler. Together they are downright explosive. Let me call your attention to a few details in this photo: the hand soap on the counter, the plunger in the toilet, the mischievous looks on each of their cherubic (devilish?) little faces. . . All of these things will play into the story I am about to tell.
One Sunday evening we had several families over for dinner. After the meal, the adults swapped silly stories in the kitchen while all the kids did who knows what, who knows where. As long as there was no screaming, bleeding, or vomiting, we parents were happy. At one point someone sensed a disturbance in the force in the area of the downstairs bathroom. We all gathered around to see T.N.T. with guilty looks on their faces and water all over the place. What took place was a mystery until Thomas 'fessed up to his mom the next day. Apparently it all started when Tyler dropped a small car in the toilet. Natalie tried to get it out with the plunger, to no avail. They realized that someone was going to have to reach in to the toilet to retrieve the car, so they pumped several ounces of hand soap into the commode to sanitize it. The car came out, but they realized that if they plunged the soapy toilet water it would make bubbles. Yahoo! That is what they were doing when they were discovered, making toilet bubbles. Ah, T.N.T. Any two of them together is dangerous, but all three united is a force to be reckoned with.

Merry Christmas 2011

Yes, it is Christmas in July. I am soooooo on top of this blog thing. Clearly I am really into social media. I promise I check my Facebook account at LEAST once a month, and update my profile picture yearly or so. Every now and then someone else posts a picture of me and tags me, so that keeps things fresh. Anyhoo... Christmas at home in Texas was lots of fun. As per tradition we made gingerbread houses, which is always a good time.