Thursday, December 29, 2011

60 Years of Merry Matrimony

My mom and dad (Dick and Shirley) celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Below is the two of them on December 27, 1951, celebrating wedding lunch at the Blue Bird Cafe in Logan, Utah. They were married earlier that day in the Logan Temple. My mom remembers it was a very cold and snowy day and the temple was packed with couples getting married because the Salt Lake Temple was closed.

And here they are 2 nights ago at the Skamania Lodge, on the Columbia River Gorge, celebrating anniversary dinner with my sister Julie and her husband Tom, and my nephew Ben and his wife Jax (who is expecting great-grandchild #18 in March).

Julie, I hope you don't mind I filched these photos off your Facebook. Congratulations, Mom and Dad -- You have accomplished so much in your lives together. Love, love, love you!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I Wish There Were Something Sweet Around Here to Eat...

Oh the sugary delight of it all.

Aunt Julie gave Emma the beautiful dress below, which Emma wore to Christmas church today.

Plus, Emma wants me to post the lovely rendering she recently did of her new (rental) violin, so I am hereby posting. It is rather nice. She starts lessons soon with a wonderful teacher conveniently located across the street.

Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

Emma and I were out making our usual yuletide rounds when we ran into Santa Claus and the missus. I didn't realize she was such a tough looking gal. It probably has to do with all them elves and reindeer games and such. I'll bet she knows her way around a nail gun.

Emma is no longer apprehensive about talking with Santa, in fact she is more tolerating than anything. In past years she wouldn't have anything to do with him, but now will pose for a photo if it means receiving a candy cane.

We haven't been out much yet for shopping, but still have a few days. I think it would help if we got out of this inversion and if it would snow a little bit. Ok then.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

16 Things

1. Tonight for dinner we had pork enchiladas. Yesterday for dinner we had pulled pork sandwiches and cole slaw. Sunday for dinner we had pork roast and mashed potatoes and gravy. All this because we bought four little pork roasts at Costco on Saturday. They came as a set and cost about 14 bucks. We froze two, and cooked two in the crockpot on Sunday. So we got three meals out of those cute little roasts for a little over two bucks a meal (not counting your incidental side dishes). That's good porky value!

2. Speaking of food, Joe dropped in on me at work today. We're only about 10 minutes away from each other between 9 and 2, Monday thru Thursday. He snuck up behind me in my little cubicle and put a cinnamon roll on my desk. I was startled, in a good way. The cinnamon roll was left over from a meeting he'd just been to and was made by the Church cafeteria.

3. Speaking of the Church cafeteria, I had lunch there with Joe on Friday (at the Church Office Building). I love it there. It's so old school. The men are in suits and the women are in hose and sensible shoes. An elderly man was playing show tunes on the piano. I had meatball soup, green salad with chipotle ranch dressing, and a piece of disappointing key lime pie. The daily newspaper is stuck up along the walls and people eat at the counter and read the paper and scoot their trays down the row so they can read a different page. Like this:

4. Enough with the food.

5. How about that Super Committee!

6. Emma and I have been playing Monopoly lately. I used to let her win, but she legitimately walloped me on Sunday. We started a game before church, continued after church, and then finished up the next morning before school. I fought hard to the end but knew I was in for it when she had 15 hundred-dollar bills, all four railroads, both utilities, a bunch of other properties, and all I had was 90 bucks and St. James Place. Emma gloated wildly during most of the game, kicking her legs on the floor and crowing jubilantly whenever I'd land on one of her heavily developed holdings. She started feeling sorry for me near the end, though, which was touching. She counts in Chinese when she moves her token around the board. Sigh.

7. Speaking of tokens. Sometimes in Monopoly you draw a Chance or Community Chest card that says "advance token to Boardwalk" or some other spot. When I was a kid the words "advance token" meant absolutely nothing to me. I knew it meant you had to go to Boardwalk, but "advance token" was like a foreign language. It didn't dawn on me till I started playing with Emma that it was a command to "move your little metal dealy to Boardwalk." Of course! Advance your token!

8. Emma was a mermaid for Halloween last month. Here's a picture my dad took of her:

9. Halloween was so warm and pleasant. Joe sat out on the driveway in a lawn chair and handed out candy. It was really fun to trick or treat with Emma that night. We started early and stayed out late. She got a super bucketload of candy, but she's more into the having than the eating. She's still got a lot left.

10. I made a vow to not have any Halloween candy because eating the fun-size everything always starts me on a slippery slope that doesn't end until January. So far so good. I'm compensating with pork.

11. Joe threw a Thanksgiving lunch for his office last week. He deep-fried two turkeys. Then he brought home a bunch of leftovers and we had them for dinner.

12. A few weeks ago we had 17 Siberian elms removed from the side of our house. They were ugly and also making cracks in our neighbor's driveway.

13. This is what they looked like before removal:

14. A skinny little guy with a pony tail and cigarette perched in his mouth crawled up the tall trees and dismantled them with his chainsaw. He had just the right build for the job.

15. And this is what it looked like when he was almost done.

16. I was going to call this post 22 Things for November 22, but I have run out of steam! It's tired and I'm getting late. Sayonara.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October Update

It's been way too long between posts. And then the longer I wait the less inclined I am. It's like putting off homework, not that the blog feels like an assignment. Well, maybe it does a little. But the longer you put off the homework, the more insurmountable it seems.

I'm so glad I don't have to do homework anymore. Emma, on the other hand, has what seems like a lot of homework for a first grader. Stuff almost every night. Chinese characters to practice, and arithmetic, and reading and spelling. But right now she's on fall break for a couple days, so she can rest a bit. She's been working hard.

Joe's mom celebrated a big birthday on Saturday and we had lots of family in town. Cousin Mary from Arizona stayed the night with us on Friday. Emma's first sleepover. We went to Corn Belly's at Thanksgiving Point first.

Then Mary and Emma slept downstairs in the big king bed together. Super fun to have her over.

The next day we had family lunch at Aunt Boo Boo's. Gae was the guest of honor.

We had a really good meal (including 3 birthday cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes: lemon, red velvet, and chocolate chocolate chip). Gae opened her presents, including this cool quilt that Aunt Susan made.

Here's Lou and Gae with 17 of their 24 grandkids, plus two greats.

It was a wonderful party. Happy birthday, Gae. We love you.

P.S. See our niece Marianne's lovely post about this same occasion here:

Friday, August 26, 2011

First Day, First Grade

Without my glasses and with the sun in my eyes, I snapped a few pictures of Little Missy Em's first day of first grade. It was Tuesday. She didn't eat much breakfast. But I was consoled by the fact that from now on she'll have hot lunch at school (and judging from the menus, Canyons School District does a far, far better job of lunch than I ever have).

Oh, the sun it was bright as the neighborhood kids gathered at the right spot/right time.

I asked her to give me a little wave as she boarded the bus, which she did, but as you can see, she was more interested in getting on with things than in sappy good-byes.

She has two first-grade teachers, Ms. Snow and Mrs. Lee. Mrs. Lee is her Chinese teacher and just moved here from Taiwan (leaving her husband behind so she can teach 50+ Draper, Utah, kids Mandarin). She's about 4'10" and has a great big smile with dimples. I hope Mr. Lee will be okay. Emma starts her day with a couple hours of non-stop Chinese with Mrs. Lee, then has hot lunch (oh, it thrills me), then has English language arts in the afternoon with Ms. Snow, a 30-year first grade veteran teacher who has been the district literacy specialist, so she's great with teaching reading.

Emma is already speaking lots of Chinese at home. It's quite remarkable. Lots of songs and little phrases. She just pops out with stuff. ("Almost as if she's wired for it," says Joe.) I'm excited for her. A whole Mandarin universe awaits.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recital Time

Well, it's been an action-packed summer so far. School starts next week, and Emma capped off her summer activities with a gymnastic recital at the Gymcats last Saturday. Sure she has one week left of swimming lessons, but we need another post (the proper waiting time after my birthday has elapsed).

Emma has been attending Gymcats for about a year, and has made great progress. She loves to go to class each week, and can be seen practicing cartwheels and bridge kick overs at any time or any place. She was excited to show off her stuff, and did a great job.

Here she is waiting her turn on the raised beam

Here she is lining up with her classmates to go to the next station

Here we have the floor routine

Ok then

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Feliz Cumpleanos to Joey

August 1 is Joe's birthday. Happy birthday, dear Joey. I've been waiting to use the picture below for a year. I couldn't find it last birthday, but found it shortly after. It sat among the other icons on our computer desktop for most of a year and then mysteriously disappeared a few days ago. I found it in the recycle bin and rescued it just in time for birthday posting. Wasn't he a cute baby?

And now he's my handsome husband. Hope you have a wonderful birthday, sweetheart!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Land o' Disney

Last week we drove to the Golden State to introduce Emma to the Magic Kingdom (and to her new first cousin, once removed). But first, we jump back in time for a patriotic jumper shot. Here is Emma in July 3rd regalia (Joe's folks got this frock for her). She was the red-white-and- blueiest in the whole Junior Primary.

Okay, so we drove to California. We left last Sunday afternoon (after 2/3 of the block, which made us feel devout but also like we were getting away with something) and stayed overnight in St. George. Then drove, drove, drove to California. The roads get worse the minute you go from Nevada to California. Also, Barstow is not an attractive city.

Monday evening we visited my niece Julia, her husband Chris, and their fabulous firstborn, Claire Julia. They live in Fullerton, a mere hop-and-skip from our Super 8 motel. They live close enough to Disneyland that they hear the fireworks go off every night at 9:30. My sister Julie was also there, visiting from Washington and attending to the needs of her baby bunny and bunny's baby. We ate Chinese take-out and admired the living daylights out of little Claire. She is indeed a cutie-patootie. So much fun to visit!!

The next morning it was off to the H.P.o.E. In a stroke of familial kismet, Joe's brother Mike and family had planned (without previous consultation) to be at D'Land the same two days we were there. They live outside Phoenix and this was their 6th visit in less than a year (they have an annual pass, the luckies). So maybe not so coincidental after all, since they visit ALL THE TIME.

Anyway, it was so stinking much fun to tag around with them. Uncle Mike is an absolute whizbang of a Disneyland guide. He knows where to go, how to get there, how to FastPass through the long lines, and he wastes no time in accomplishing his objectives. We scampered, scampered, scampered to keep up with him. We met them at the parking lot shuttle on Day 1 and got to the park before the gates opened. It was so snoozy we were the only ones in front of the big sign.

Things got hopping pretty fast, though. Em was a tad shy with her cousins at first, but after we all went on Star Tours together she loosened up and stuck with them for the next two days. Below you see Abbie, Sarah, Emma, Elizabeth, Max and Mary.

Mary was her special pal and they spent a lot of time together:

On our first day we did Star Tours, Space Mountain (made me want to hurl), Splash Mountain (loved!), Indiana Jones, Winnie the Pooh, Haunted Mansion, rode in the canoes (and got absolutely drenched on account of Emma's nonstandard paddle technique). Then we went over to California Adventure for various attractions. By this time it was hot and I was tired (but Uncle Mike was not). Joe took Emma and Mary on the gigantic ferris wheel. Ferris wheels give me the frights. I'm glad I didn't go; Joe said it was really scary (and he ain't the scareable kind). They were in one of the cages that rocked waaay back and forth, kinda sideways. I found a tiny patch of shade on the boardwalk and ate a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar while they swung around with their eyes closed.

Here's a couple of pix of the group on Splash Mountain:

Mike talked Joe and me into going on the Tower of Terror with them. You're in this elevator car that suddenly drops 130 feet. I was sincerely anxious as I waited for this ride to get going, but it wasn't quite as bad as I thought (helps to keep eyes closed 100 percent of the time).

We also did this fun animation class where an instructor taught everyone, in incremental steps, how to draw a Donald Duck face. (But I think it would be hard to be a cartoon instructor teaching 50 groups a day how to draw Donald Duck...)

We went off-site for pizza dinner, but then Joe and I took Emma back to watch the fireworks. Oh my, what a spectacular extravaganza, complete with Tinkerbell and Dumbo flying around in midair. There were absolute hordes and masses of people watching. The lines for the parking lot shuttles leaving the park were as long as lines for the rides. Emma was thrashed. She fell asleep immediately in the shuttle.

But she rebounded after sleeping hard for a few hours. Here she is, rebounding, the next morning (you must click to enlarge):

On Day 2 we did Splash Mountain a few more times (see soggy cousins below). Apparently it broke down after we'd ridden it about four times in a row. We walked by a few minutes later and saw people standing around on top of the mountain, looking bereft. We rode the Thunder Mountain Railroad a couple times, too (really fun!).

My vote for best snack at Disneyland: The Dole pineapple whip float, a yummy blend of pineapple juice and pineapple soft-serve ice cream, topped with an umbrella and a cherry. Most refreshing.

Aunt Suzette and I took Emma and Mary to Fantasyland to do the spinning teacups and It's a Small World, etc. Then the cousins had to leave to drive back to Arizona. Oh! It was so much fun to do Disneyland with them. Thanks, you guys!!

On Thursday, we slept in a little bit and then went to Newport Beach for a few hours. Em splashed in the surf and dragged big hunks of seaweed around (she got a big kick out of that), and we had corn dogs and lemonade from Jane's Corn Dog Shop.

Friday, we headed back to St. George and had dinner with Aunt Susan and Uncle Jack, and Saturday (today), we drove home. Fun, fun trip. See big smile below:

And if my mention of "Small World" didn't get the tune going in your head, maybe this will help!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

St. George is Georgous

We went to St. George for a few days (and Las Vegas for half a day), and it was a blast to get away.

But first -- thanks, Joey, for the anniversary post. (He's such a doll face.) I dug out two faves from the wedding album:

The Portland temple is huge! And poor Moroni didn't quite make the cut.

So we left for St. George this past Thursday. Joe made us hearty breakfast to start the day. He is an expert at the hearty breakfast. Eggs, bacon, hash browns, english muffins. Plus the centerpiece below. The prospect of 7 work-free days stretching out ahead of him propelled him to fugues of fruit-carving exuberance.

Aunt Boo Boo let us stay at her pretty new house in St. George. We swam a lot and went on various outings. On Friday we went to Snow Canyon. It's very close by and absolutely stunning. Lots of kid-/aging-parent-friendly trails.

Not very comfy reclining on pointy rocks, but Em indulged us (because it makes a great picture...).

This little slot canyon (called Jenny's Canyon) was so cool!

And on the walk out we saw the following tortoise.

On Friday afternoon, we drove to Las Vegas to meet up with Emma's big brother Louie. Went to dinner, then he drove us to the new bridge at Hoover Dam. We walked halfway across -- Really spectacular, but made me queasy.

Louie showed us a few bright lights. On Fremont Street Emma looked around, agog, and said, "Is this a block party?"

Then we headed back to St. George, realizing that our night owl days are far, far behind us.

On Saturday, we went to the Dinosaur Discovery museum and then got Chicago dogs downtown. When we were eating at the hot dog place, a woman came up to us and told us she'd been a flight attendant on our flight from LA to Salt Lake when we brought Emma home from China in 2006. She remembered talking to us on that flight. Isn't that something?

Drove back to Draper on Sunday morning in time to get to sacrament meeting at 1:00, where Joe was sustained as the new ward executive secretary. He'll do a wonderful job. And he's got 3 more days off to recover from vacation. Hopefully that's enough to inspire him to further fruit sculpting.

Oh, and I must mention that Emma graduated (with distinction) from kindergarten last Tuesday. Not with a ceremony or nothin', but she brought home her diploma, report card, about 5 pounds worth of papers and art projects from the last year, plus a Distinguished Dragon medal she earned for knowing all kinds of kindergarteny stuff. I was sitting out in the front yard as she and her pal Jace strolled home from the bus on their last sunny kindergarten day and I must say I felt a pang. Bless her little heart.

So that's what's going on as of just now.