Friday, December 26, 2008

Feeling neglected?

We had a lovely Christmas, seeing most of our families during the week leading up to Christmas, and coming home just in time for Santa to visit. But this, in combination with research trip the weekend before we left for MO, means the blog has been sorely neglected. We didn't even have internet access for much of our trip, though the locations we stayed at now have wireless internet in their homes, many thanks to Aaron. Gotta love modern technology, and the ability to use it!

So we have a lot of pictures, but none of them are uploaded to the computer yet, so that will be the next post. As for what I've been doing with my time, here's a quick rundown, and maybe you'll forgive my not posting.

Dec. 12: work like crazy to get ready for research trip
Dec. 13: get to school by 6:15 am to be on the boat by 8:00. Realize that bad weather above the ocean means standing at the edge of the ocean is a very bad idea. The cove that usually looks like a swimming pool had 4 ft breakers crashing in the very place I would have been standing. Instead, harness Carlos into helping me clean out the storage locker. Yeah!!!
Dec. 14: get back on the ferry since they may not run it the next day.
Dec. 15: run around like mad to get everything done -- turn in keys and reimbursement forms, go shopping, more shopping, send package, get AJ, pack everything we need for a week in caryy-on only bags (no waiting at baggage pick-up!)
Dec. 16: be up and to the airport, then wait, fly, then wait again, fly again, get the rental car in four inches of snow (I think they punished us for not paying the extra $18/day for the all wheel drive subaru by giving us a rear-wheel drive Grand Marquis.), figure out that we should NOT try to drive all the way to Springfield from KCI with such slippery roads (thanks, Laurenda! and Jason!) crash for the night in Harrisonville.
Dec. 17: get to Mom and Dad's, go out with Aaron (yeah!!!) and harrass Hallie at work.
Dec. 18: shop for Christmas gifts for Missourians (what, you thought I was going to fly stuff from California? not a chance), have Sudholt Christmas, hang out with cousin Josh (fun, fun), laundry.
Dec. 19: get a haircut, go through old stuff I had saved (why, oh, why did I save that crap?), drive to Grandma's house in Columbia, go through things in the house in preparation for future disbursement (happy and sad activity)
Dec. 20: clean up Grandma's house, see her at her apt in Jeff City, go back to Columbia to extended Pabst Christmas, drive to Hannibal, more laundry
Dec. 21: church in Hannibal (and wish I had volunteered to sing), Davidson family Christmas at Joy and Al's, see Susie at her apt, monitor the boys playing Wii
Dec. 22: more shopping, lunch at Sonic (which we don't have in SoCal)
Dec. 23: more laundry, Pabst family Christmas, lots of good times with cousins and in laws
Dec. 24: get to KCI (a four hour trip which turned into five due to unexpected bad roads, no thanks to MO Highway Patrol), run through the rental car return, luck into a shuttle just leaving for the terminal, try to get through the horrid security at KCI, with Levi escaping me and bags I didn't pack (because Aaron did) that are triggering the stupid machine, fly, wait...and wait...and wait, because the second plane is late, fly again, try to get a soda or something but everything is closed because it's Christmas Eve, drag two sleeping boys in the house, put jammies on them, wrap the last of the presents, put everything under the tree. Collapse into my own bed, with my own pillow on top. ahhhhh.

Whew, does that sound busy to you? Not that I think most of you were any less busy, but that's my excuse, and I'm stickin to it. Pictures as soon as I can!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the things I learned...

...while on facebook. A.J. loves to play computer games, especially ones involving knowledge. He discovered that facebook has a number of these games, and so likes to tool around with it. Last night, as I was getting him signed in (to my page, he doesn't have his own) I saw that a high school classmate had added me as a friend, so I clicked on her page. Her picture included her boyfriend, whom A.J. promptly called her husband. I tried explaining what the difference between dating and marriage is. We got on a whole discussion of the temple, because he had put together that since you are old enough to go to the temple at 12, and that you get married in the temple, that must be what you do there when you go at age 12. Uh, no. We got that all straightened out. Whew.
He's had marriage on the brain for a few months now, and while I was explaining that you date people to find out if you share interests and such, he said, "Well, Rachel (a girl he's been in class with every year so far, K-2) and I have a lot in common."
Something about the way he said it led me to wonder if there was more to the story. So, I asked, "Did you already ask her to marry you?"
"Yeah. She said, 'No.'"

So, my son has already asked a girl to marry him. And he's been turned down. And, knowing him, I recognize that this is no typical playground romance. He's serious. He thinks he should know right now who he will marry. Oh, boy. I have many long years ahead of me, I think.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Baby Changes Everything

I just got this from my scripture class teacher. It's about the birth of Christ, but I think it is very appropriate today, considering my last post. Because every baby, especially the hard ones, changes everything.

Faith Hill's A Baby Changes Everything

A Prayer Request

For those who are inclined to pray, even for people you don't know, I have a couple of requests for you. My old friends Jeff and Cari just had their third baby girl. She is beautiful, but not without problems. They learned a couple of months ago that she has trisomy 6 (a third copy of chromosome #6 attached itself to chromosome #3 -- not good, like down's syndrome is a trisomy 21) and that it appeared that her lower jaw was seriously malformed. However, upon her birth last Friday, it turned out that she has no lower jaw nor tongue. Her lungs have not and will not develop properly, so they are preparing to let her go back to her Heavenly Father. I know they could use as much support right now as possible.

Secondly, my cousin and his wife will be having their third child soon, too, but hopefully not too soon. Steady contractions at 28 weeks is not good, so she's on bedrest for the duration. They are hoping to make it past Christmas, but every day past that is even better. Thank you for adding my friends to your lists.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I've been tagged...for the first time!

My old friend Laurel tagged me on one of those "tell about yourself" things. So here it goes:

Eight shows I watch:
Mizzou football (not that it's been enjoyable lately)
House Hunters
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Renovation Nation
How Clean is Your House
Designed to Sell
Any science, history, or nature show on a variety of channels

Eight restaurants where I like to eat:
Star Cafe (the. best. rolls. ever.)
Clancy's Seafood
Zeke's Smokehouse
Catalina Jazz Club
IHOP (it makes the kids happy)
my kitchen...Aaron is a pretty good cook, and when we have the time, it's yummy

Eight things I did today:
Got the kids to school
Cleared up some confusion
Called the marine station
Had lunch with my friend Alison (Yeah!)
Went to a lab meeting
Picked up AJ
Cleaned up the dining room
Picked up Levi

Eight things I am looking forward to:
Diving on Friday
Elder's Quorum Christmas party Friday night
Parent-teacher conference on Monday
Getting my research back on track
Our anniversary dinner something...Aaron won't tell me what it is
Graduation...but it's a while away
Owning a house again

Eight things on my wishlist:
A digital camera
A house I own
A backyard
For my kids to be less destructive
Central Air
A decent kitchen
A master bedroom decorated the way we want
A vacation for just me and Aaron

Eight people I tag:

Cari (before baby, I hope!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

the haircuts

Levi's version of the haircut:

I loveded the buzzer cause it was tickly. And even I loveded the zizzors cause they were tickly, too. And I loveded going in the shower cause it was fun. Um. I loveded my haircut cause it was all fun. That's all I wanted to tell you.

And now A.J.'s:

Before the haircut, I was kind of scared and nervous. But when I got farther into it, I wasn't too scared anymore because it was very tickly. At the very end, it was so tickly I needed to take a shower, and I had to wash my hair four times! And after the shower I wasn't so tickly anymore.


A.J. and Levi

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reader Alert!

We have found many of you recently, but only in blogworld. We are getting our Christmas cards ready and would love to send some out to you. However, we don't have your address. So, I am soliciting addresses from you all. Since many of you won't want to post your addresses for all to see, please email me at divingcardinal (at) gmail dot com, minus all the spaces and other silliness. Thanks, and look for your card in the mail soon!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a great Thanksgiving. We started the day with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thankfully it was time delayed, so we didn't have to be up at 6:00 to see it. The boys liked the big balloons, Kermit, and Santa. Aaron and I liked the Briefcase Drill Team (hilarious!) and the Second Time Around Marching Band. The only requirement to join is participating in marching band in either high school or college. A few marchers were under 40, but there was a large contingent of marchers over 60. Even some pretty old guys in the color guard/rifle corps. Very entertaining.

We did Thanksgiving Dinner on our own, since all of our family is so far away. (We'll be seeing you at Christmas, though!) We had turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, macaroni and cheese (thanks to A.J.) and a delicious pumpkin pie. Before dinner we sang "Prayer of Thanksgiving."

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens, and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name; He forgets not his own.

The boys wore the hats they made at school. We had the "before" turkey and the "after" turkey. A.J.'s was the before, a classic turkey head in the front, wings on the side and several tail feathers in the back. Levi's, however, was two drumsticks on the sides of his head. The two of them looked pretty funny together. I'll have to see if I can get them to take a picture.

Today we saw Madagascar 2, a very cute movie. After the movie we wandered around a mall, having the boys look for things they might like for Christmas. We stumbled into a great little store with scientific toys of all kinds. Puzzles, games, science kits, and all sorts of learning toys. Tonight, Aaron took our old furniture and some other things to Goodwill (and then did some shopping) while the boys and I put a bunch of Legos together. All in all, a lovely couple of days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Natural rain and history

Both boys were off school today, and since I don't have Wednesday classes, I was, too. Since Aaron was working from home today, we left to give him some quiet and distraction-free time. We went the the Natural History Museum of L.A. County (which A.J. kept calling the National History Museum). A few of the big exhibits are closed, as they are doing a major renovation project. So, no dinosaur exhibit, but there were a few skeletons spread in other areas that were open. Levi breezed through most of the exhibits so fast I had to tell him several times to slow down. We did get to watch some scientists working on newly collected fossils, and the boys liked that a lot. A.J. says his favorite part was "digging" for fossils in the discovery center. I think Levi liked a dinosaur presentation done by some of the docents, one of which was dressed as a very convincing dinosaur. The also had a deep-sea fish that washed up at the marine station where I do my research. It was sort of eel-like, but much bigger. I think my favorite was the gem and mineral room. The had several huge blue topaz stones. They were gorgeous. Most of the minerals were raw and unpolished, though they did have one small room of polished gems that were lovely. I actually liked the unpolished stuff better. Some of them were absolutely brilliant colors.

We've also had a fair amount of rain today. Not pansy California rain, either. Californians like to say it's raining as long as there is ANY water falling from the sky. What the rest of the country either doesn't acknowledge or calls drizzle, Californians whip out the umbrella or don't go out at all. We didn't really have downpours, but it was certainly enough to get you pretty wet between your car and the store. Happily, the traffic wasn't too bad. I've seen worse for less rain.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's here!!!

Finally. We ordered the furniture quite a while ago, but one set was backordered, so the bunny called us to see if we wanted to pick out something else. He said they had a new set in that he would give us for the same price, even though the new one cost more. So last week we went in to see the new one. I wasn't totally sold on it in the showroom, but I'm glad we decided to take it. I really like it now. So, here are some pictures.

A.J. got our old dresser because the one he was using is near death. Understandably so, since it was my mother's when she was little, then moved all across the country with her family and ours (it's been to California twice now!)

And then, since everyone else got a new dresser, Levi thought he was getting one, too, so we painted his red. It was a boring brown before, and he says red is his favorite color.

As for the table, it is the one we ordered, and you can see that Levi doesn't like to put his dishes away after lunch.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

School Pictures!

We got the boys' school pictures last week, but we didn't have them scanned until a couple of days ago. This is Levi's first time getting his own pictures done, and I think he did really well. Here is his photo followed by his class picture. (Make sure you click on his individual photo to see his eyes, they look amazing.)

His teachers' names got switched, so Miss Valerie is on the left and Miss Nicole is on the right.

A.J. got to choose his background color and his pose this year. Don't know what's up with the smile.

This is first time his class has gathered for a photo. In the past they have just put all the kids' individual pics on one sheet. I kind of like this better, but it makes him look a little short, I think.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Student of the month

A.J. was voted student of the month for November. The theme was citizenship, so maybe he did something, or is just a nice guy (which I think he is) and they decided that he best embodied citizenship. Anyway, his little kindergarten buddy Peter was student of the month, too. He's standing in front of A.J. They had white flags, and many wore white shirts, because the spirit day theme was peace.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lots of pictures

We've been busy lately, and I finally have a few pictures to post. There are some videos, too, but they haven't been fixed up, so you'll just have to wait for those! Levi's preschool had a Halloween party. All the classes made their own costumes, Levi's class went as skittles.

We went on a mini-vacation over Veteran's Day weekend, and this is what we awoke to on Sunday morning.

And there was a lot of wildlife around the pond, egrets, herons, and these cute ducks.

Back at our campsite, Levi had just helped with the fire by adding that light colored log.

We went to SeaWorld, and got soaked by Shamu! Here's the after photo of the boys. We wore our raincoats, so we weren't really all that wet, but Levi was thrilled. After we got splashed, he yelled (because he can't use just a regular voice) "We just got all wet and now we are WHALES!"

SeaWorld even has a few rides, and the children's section is associated with Sesame Street. This is the boys on Oscar's Eel ride.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We survived

With Veterans' Day on Tuesday this year, both the boys were off school Monday and Tuesday, I don't have classes on Mondays this quarter and also had Tuesday off, so Aaron took Monday off and we went camping. Our summer vacation ended up being a little crazier than relaxing and we really needed some quiet, non-stressful family time this fall. We went to a great campground in San Diego and roasted s'mores and hot dogs. Our tent withstood wind and rain (we didn't really even notice, but other campers weren't so lucky.) We went kayaking in Mission Bay and no one fell out of the boats. We've kayaked before, but those were more like canoes, these didn't really have sides, so I was a little nervous about Levi.

We even got to go to Seaworld, which the boys absolutely LOVED. They got sprayed by an orca, fed sea lions and dolphins, got to touch bat rays and dolphins, and Levi even got to hug Elmo and Zoey from Sesame Street. It is hands down better than Disneyworld. Fewer rides, but shorter waits that end with 25 minute shows rather than 2 minute Dumbo rides. Disney claims to foster a sense of wonder, but when you hear a little boy that has just been soaked by a whale's tail exclaim that he is now a whale because he is all wet or watch them snuggle with their whale and manatee at night or hear them tell the same stories again and again...and again, it becomes obvious that the best sense of wonder comes not from animated characters, but from the awe of God's creations. We had a great time.

We're all tired (I don't really know why I'm still up...oh, yeah, laundry) but I think we'll all be ready to head back to our routines tomorrow. I'll put up pictures whenever I get them off the camera, but I have to charge it first.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Interesting developments...

So yesterday was our stake's temple day, which was canceled after "No on 8" protesters showed up thinking that the administration of the church somehow had anything to do with the passage of Proposition 8. Thankfully, they were not allowed on the temple property, but circled it on the sidewalk/streets. Hopefully the temple missionaries/workers staying in the apartments behind the visitors' center were relatively unaffected by all of it. For the record, not one red cent of tithing was spent on pushing prop 8. However, millions were donated by members of the church at the urging (but not requiring) of church leadership. Yes, members participated in phone calling events, passed out and placed yard signs, held signs on street corners and in parking lots. There was no yelling at or protesting of people, simply support for the millenia-old definition of a marriage. Having been subjected to hate speech while growing up, I know what it's like, and I won't engage in it. I sincerely hope A.J. is not affected by all the media coverage. He was given two invitations to pass on to friends, inviting them to his Primary Presentation on the 16th. I will let him give them out of course, but I can only hope that he doesn't get any negative feedback about it.

You can read the church's position here and some of the less than helpful articles here. I linked to the most neutral article, though it's still rather skewed. It does at least point out that 52% of Californians who voted on Prop 8 were for it, and that number is much larger than the number of members in the state, as well as some of the other contributors and the fact that they are not being targeted with protests. The church wasn't even the first group to pull together support for Prop 8, they were invited by the Catholics and protestant churches already involved. It's just that our church is significantly more organized when it comes to spearheading movements than individual congregations could ever be.

Sorry for the rant, but it hurts to see angry people surrounding the most sacred building on earth and have no one else stand up for it. Here's a picture of the lovely temple when it is not the subject of attack.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God moves in mysterious ways...

I have read many blogs in the last day or so whose writers are variously horrified, sad, scared, etc. because of the results of the national election yesterday. Let me give you a slightly different perspective, and you may feel less anxious. Let's call it the California perspective.

California is a very diverse state, in ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs (or not), and political perspective. It is widely known that recent immigrants and minority groups often vote for Democrats, and the minority status of Mr. Obama brought these groups to the polls like never before. These groups are often also very cognisant of the importance of family and of keeping families strong. So, while they voted for Obama, many also voted for Proposition 8. It is quite possible that the minority vote is what passed prop 8. I'm not saying that what happens in California is more important than what happens in the rest of the country (Californians just think it is,) but Obama has a finite amount of time he will be in office, while if prop 8 had failed, the consequences would have no end, either in time or in land it affects. Remember, too, that though the presidency and legislature is held by democrats, the supreme court helps to keep those groups in check. And, this court is currently approximately split along conservative/liberal lines. As many of you have mentioned, God is still really in charge. I have no doubt that He will allow us to make our own mistakes, but I do not believe He will forsake our national safety in the interest of keeping our standards.

So, I hope that we don't give in to the whims of this (or any) administration, but that, like Tami, we continue to let our voices be heard. Just remember that there may be reasons which are hidden to us for events in our country.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My thankful list

On Saturday my friend Laurenda passed on a gratitude challenge. Every day of November, make a list of three things you are thankful for, trying not to repeat any. (That's 90 blessings to count!) I thought I would post mine today.

1. I'm thankful the election is (almost) OVER.
2. I'm thankful for the opportunity to vote (though I'd like to have something better to choose between than stinking mold and stinking fungus.)
3. I'm thankful I live in the promised land and that God will not sacrifice this land even if there are only 10 righteous souls (and I know WAY more than 10!) Whew, I guess California won't fall into the ocean just yet.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

About my bee sting

Hi, I'm A.J. I got a bee sting today. I got it on my pinkie. When I got home from church I got an ice pack. And after a while, I felt better. It was my first time getting a bee sting. Some of my friends were stung before, too. My bee sting was small. When I was in the car it was kind of bleeding.


Levi is getting bigger!

Levi came to us with yet another drawing. He draws people a lot. It's the classic circle with arms and legs, along with facial features all in the same place. Today, there was a difference. He said he wrote his name, which is the first time he has done it on his own. Only it didn't say Levi, it said LiE. Pretty close, but we might have to let his teachers know that any paper that says "LiE" is probably his.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Road Trip 2008

Here's a little taste of our road trip this summer.
Just bear with the wind noise at the beginning- there's funny audio at the 5 minute mark.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

1 friend, 2 friends, old friends, new friends!

So yesterday I was busy procrastinating, only a little bit, and found my friend Laurenda on facebook. Yea! We haven't kept in contact for several years now, and I was very excited to find her. I found her blog, which led me to MANY other old friends from Columbia, both University Ward friends and Bear Creek Ward friends. I found Bryan and Sabra, Josh and Emily, Megan and Jared (all the way in Alaska!), Kendall and Michelle, Laurel and Louis, Tina (an old roommate) and James, Edward and Stephanie, Ben and Laurie, Laura (another old roommate), Meredith and Andrew, Melissa and Dwight, the Tia family, Trent and Courtney, Cary and Katrina, Wes and Melissa, the Spriggs family, whew, that's a lot. We even found some of the kids that were youth in Bear Creek ward, with their own families! It was so fun to see everyone, most have more kids than we knew of last time we saw them, and everyone looks like they're doing great! So, in the interest of my new-found friends who I hope are hopping over to our blog, I'll put in a quick update.

We left Columbia in spring 2003 and headed to Chicago so Aaron could go to graduate school. We lived a couple of places in Chicagoland and our second son Levi was born just before we left there in 2005. After Aaron had worked for a year, he decided to look into moving into a better position, so started applying to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Within three weeks of them calling him for an interview, he got the job in Los Angeles, so five weeks later we picked up and moved (with my brother Jon's help -- many thanks) to a place I had never been. Ever. We've been in the same apartment since May 2005, longer than any other place we've lived.

A.J. is in second grade at our local school, which he (and I) loves. He is big into baseball, convinced he'll be a major leaguer when he grows up, so look for his name in about 15 years. Levi started preschool this year, and absolutely loves it. He plays with everyone and is the class entertainer. He loves to sing and perform for people. Just this morning at A.J.'s dropoff he had Mrs. Lo's whole second grade class gathered around him to watch him do "Sporticus moves." He sees them on Nickelodeon's Lazytown and has to try them out: jump splits (like cheerleaders do), pushups, all kinds of lovely things.

Aaron is still with the SEC and has been really busy for a while, with the economy plummeting, banks and brokers failing right and left. I am a grad student in marine ecology trying to get a master's degree. Things are a little slow, because I can't just take off to my research site any time the tides are good. It all has to be planned really far in advance, and getting the boys taken care of is definitely the hardest part.

We'll be back in Missouri for Christmas this year, so maybe we'll see a few of you still in the Columbia area. I'm so glad we found so many of you. It's always good to connect to people from the past. We hope all is going well for you and your families. And let's keep in touch!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Birth Verses?

I saw a post about someone's biblical birth verse. I checked it out, and it's kind of interesting. I don't use the NIV, but it works for something like this.

1 Corinthians 8:3 NIV

But the man who loves God is known by God.

2 Timothy 2:1 NIV strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 8:22 NIV
“The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;

2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Well, I think A.J. and Levi's are quite appropriate, at any rate. A.J. has always seemed like an old soul, and he is the older of the two. Levi certainly did NOT get a spirit of timidity. This is evident when he heads out of the chapel during church to use the bathroom, while saying in his regular (rather loud) voice, "I need to poop and pee in the potty. I don't need any help, I can do it all by all myself. But YOU can help me wipe." As if it's a privilege. And self-discipline? Well, if you act scared when he is a dinosaur or some other scary thing, he will then get out of character and say very reassuringly, "It's ok, mommy. It's only me, Levi. I'm Levi now." Maybe that's it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trunk or Treat

We had our Ward Trunk or Treat last night. Check out these Robots in Disguise...


That's our trunk in the background with the stars and globe inside. An outer space theme since that's where the Transformers came from. This year Chase accidentally coordinated with AJ as Bumblebee the Transformer (last year he was Buzz Lightyear to Levi's Sheriff Woody). Levi's also a bumblebee, he just didn't get the official Transformer costume. He didn't notice.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

New furniture

Well, we've got our furniture. Ordered, anyway. Many thanks to those of you who gave your input. Unfortunately, although we liked the looks, none were made with dovetailing or other key quality features. Since I did some woodworking in high school, I have a pretty good idea what I need to see before I'll buy. So, here's what we got.
The bed:

The Table:

AND, we got it from...

a bunny.

Yep, the bunny was our salesman. Great guy. And no, he didn't wear the bunny suit.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's next?

Well, we've been discussing financial futures (ours, not pigs or corn) lately. We are in the position to begin planning a home purchase, which means the actual buying won't take place for a year or so. But the planning begins now. We also have some needs to meet before then. We've got mostly hand-me-down or Ikea furniture, and a few things are beginning to show some serious wear. So, we've been looking for deals on bedroom sets (we get the new set, and pass our dresser on to AJ, whose is about to come undone) and dining sets. The chairs we bought for $20 at KMart before AJ was born are about to give way, too. No good pictures of dining sets yet, but here are some bedroom sets we like (tell me what you think!):





However, with all of the economic upheaval lately, I also have been doing a lot of thinking about food storage and a year's supply, which we have, if only in syrup. And tuna. And maybe pickle relish. Hey, I stock up on staples whenever they're cheap. So, I was doing some looking around today, because I enjoy reading other blogs, even if i don't know the person in real life and I found this one: Safely Gathered In. It looks really helpful, so I may actually get started on some of the projects they're doing. Our emergency preparedness person in the ward has had out a couple of hand-driven wheat grinders, but I think I would like an electric one better. They're supposed to be able to grind about as good as commercial flour companies, which means I could save money and almost never run out of flour, like I did last night while making banana and zucchini muffins (mmm...).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Too many people?

We've had two highway closures around us within a week. Last Wednesday morning, a motorcyclist was shot at about 2am on the interchange from one freeway to another, closing the only route through our valley other than our street. It was nuts. It was stop and go (mostly stop and stop) traffic in front of our place until 11:30. It's not even that bad at rush hour. Ever. It took 15 minutes to get to AJ's school, and we made it faster than we would have had we stayed in the car because we parked and walked. I got to Levi's school alright (it was against the traffic), but getting home took 30 minutes. This was after I took the neighborhood streets when I could and shaved off probably 15 minutes. These trips should take no more than 5 minutes. Even if I hit every single red light.

A wildfire started early Sunday morning that isn't all that close to us (if we end up in danger, all of Los Angeles has gone up in flames...not likely). However, it caused the closure of a highway starting in the same place as last week's, now going the other way. Traffic isn't so bad right where we are, but I bet if I tried to get to church it would be nearly impossible. Shutting down 15 miles of any highway in L.A. is guaranteed to cause chaos.

So all this got me thinking...what if L.A. ever has to evacuate? What if an earthquake destroys the interchange near us? It was kind of scary not even being able to get groceries last week. I could have easily gotten to the grocery store, but everything would have spoiled by the time I got home. I don't know the answers. I do know that it wouldn't matter if we lived in a larger valley with more surface streets, that just means vastly more people out on them. It just kinda makes me want to move to the boonies. Fewer people means fewer crazy traffic jams.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Family activities

We've been trying to do more things as a family lately, especially outside activities. So this week we went to the park twice and the zoo yesterday. Our neighborhood park was renovated recently and the playground opened up just a couple of weeks ago after having been closed for two months. The new equipment is great and the boys (especially Levi) have really been enjoying it all. A.J. mostly wants to play catch with Aaron and gets angry when he has to stop. They thought it was pretty funny to run away and try to avoid being photographed, but I got them! Here's a few from the park:

Playing catch with Dad.

After Dad says time to go.

Levi right after he bashed his mouth on the ladybug's handlebars:

Yesterday we had fabulous weather: about 70 degrees and sunny. So we decided to head to the zoo. Our zoo is in a very hilly area, so the cooler the weather, the better. We packed a picnic and spent a long time and focused on some areas we rarely get to. We got a lot of good pictures, but here are just a few.

Levi's preschool class is the kangaroos. so this is a picture of the boys and some lazy kangaroos.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Accepted the Challenge

Tami at passed on a challenge this morning: post the sixth picture from the sixth picture file. So, I found it:
Because of how we organize our photos, and because I was lucky enough to get a digital camera pretty early on, we have a lot of photo files, so this one is pretty old. However, it does give me a chance to reflect a bit. This photo is of my younger (see how cute!) sister Hallie, our cousin Ben, and my son A.J., just two months old. We were together for the family memorial service for our grandfather. It was a lovely October day seven years ago, and most of the family, even ones we hadn't seen in ages were able to make it. Since it was his memorial service, I'll also post a picture of him and my grandmother in South Korea. He served the people of many nations as an agricultural ambassador of sorts, assisting local farmers in increasing production and efficiency. Grandpa is in the white shirt, no jacket and bow tie (always a Grandpa staple!) and Grandma is to his right.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Is it wrong?

Is it wrong to so thoroughly enjoy the misery of team rivals. We just watched the Mizzou-Nebraska game. It was lovely. The fifth game in a row that Mizzou has scored more than 50 points. The second string offense came in...again. They were up 45-10 and Aaron asked, "well, what should we do now?" and I said, "watch the rest of the blowout, of course." I loved watching the huskers get pulverized. Ahhh, what a beautiful thing.
As soon as it was over, we switched to the Cubs-Dodgers game. The Cubs are in danger of being the first team eliminated from the post season, and it's fantastic. We like the Dodgers, as long as they're not playing the Cards, of course, but it's the Cubs-Cards rivalry that makes their elimination so great. Not to mention the 100 year world series drought, the longest in baseball. All the other "cursed" teams (White Sox, Red Sox, Angels) have won within the last six years. Except the Cubs. They have so many curses they've piled on themselves at this point it's ridiculous. The billy goat, Steve Bartman, black cat, and who knows what else they've decided has cursed them over the years. Their stadium is losing chunks of concrete, the team and the stadium are on separate auction blocks, and four players with no or not ending their names: Zambrano, Soriano, Fontenot, and Cedeno. I don't know how they expect to win with all that bad karma. hehehe. Oh, I love it. Sports are great.

A.J.'s post

I had a blood test today. And I had to take a shot and blood came in the shot thing. I was nervous. It took a long time before it was my turn. After that, I got two stickers, one says "I had a blood test," and the other one says "I did very whale." Then we went to IHOP and I had the funny face pancake, Daddy ate the cherries. After that, we went home. I played baseball with Daddy, and we won 5-4. I'm watching football, Auburn v. Vanderbilt, 13-14. I bought Transformers yesterday, it was Brawl and Ratchet. I like to play with my Transformers a lot. I started to read Tom Sawyer, but Daddy thought I was too young to read it. Maybe I should read Huckleberry Finn. It also rained 3 times today


Levi's post

I was reading a book. A Lightning McQueen book. I play with toys, like Tigger the band music. I got a drink of apple juice. I pooped in the potty today. I want to tie bad guys with my cowboy rope. I have a bike at home. I played with Pooh bear. Yesterday I pooped in the potty. Today I write a letter H.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

descriptions of Levi

Easy-going. (really?)

Tonight was the Back to School Night at Levi's preschool. I got there late, since my class ends at 6, and BtSN started at 6, so I can't be in two places at once, especially when they are about 15 miles apart. So I stuck around for a few minutes and talked with his teachers about him. He has adjusted very well, and loves being there. Miss Valerie said that when he walks in with his "Hi, guys!" she gets perked up for the day. He plays with anyone, even the independent ones, and the ones who always play with the same few kids. He loves the art projects, especially goop (a non-messy silly putty copy). Turns out, he even has a girlfriend. The two of them played together all day yesterday. When I asked him tonight "who's Christina?" he said, "my best friend." When I asked what they like to play together, he said, "we like to play trucks and firemans and doctors and shopping and take care of babies and bikes." They sound rather well-rounded. His teachers seem to really enjoy him, and he certainly likes them. It's such a good school experience for him.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Some random bits

1. Last night the TV in Uncle Jon's room died.
Just suddenly stopped showing a picture and the little red light that says it's on, just flickered.
Levi, understandably, was very upset.
It's his favorite TV because he can fix the couch just so and lounge to his heart's content.
So, in the infinite wisdom of a three-year-old, he asked Aaron to pray for it.
I'm not sure Heavenly Father blesses dead TVs, because he probably would rather that we not watch so much TV and instead spend time with each other and the scriptures.
But, it was a good thought, and it shows that at least some of what we've been teaching him has sunk in.

2. A.J. saw a cardiologist yesterday.
She did several tests, a short EKG, an echocardiogram, and had him do a Holter test for 24 hours.
That is basically a 24 hour EKG, so he had some really sticky pads put on his chest with wires coming off that fed into a freestanding hard drive.
He got to skip bath last night (water and electrodes don't go well together), so he was pleased about that.
Sleeping was a little tricky, but he was out pretty quick.
He wore it to school all day, and his lovely teacher was happy to keep track of his activities all day.
I think he actually liked it a little, but he was certainly glad to take it off after school.
We still don't know what's going on, or why he fainted (he hasn't done it again after July), but the scariest diagnosis I was worried about isn't it.
No activity limitations yet.
Thank goodness.
The worst thing I can think of for A.J. would be for him to have to give up baseball.
He doesn't say "if I'm a major leaguer," he says, "when I'm a major leaguer..."
He spends as much time as he possibly can playing baseball, following baseball teams, or drawing pictures of baseball games.
He has even started keeping track of players' stats, simple ones, of course.
He loves baseball.
I hope he keeps that passion about it.
Here's a picture of him in his jammie pants and his Holter device.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

He did it...AGAIN!

So I posted two weeks ago that Levi had made great strides in the potty training acheivements...and then he's just been doing it in his underwear since. grrr. I was getting really tired of seeing a bag in his cubby with the label "Levi - poop." And then, this morning he decided he needed to poop in the potty. Since he had already peed in his little potty and I hadn't been able to dump it yet, I convinced him to poop in the big potty. I went to check on A.J. and by the time I got back to the bathroom, he had already flushed. He said he did it, so he got his three M&M's, but I wasn't really sure.

Fast forward to the end of school...
The first thing he said to me was "Mommy, I poop in the potty at my school and I show it to Miss Acole (Nicole)!" Miss Nicole was not there, as they whittle down the staff as more kids leave throughout the afternoon. So, I think we're back on track. Let's hope we don't derail again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Busy, busy, busy!

This is just to let you know we're still alive. :) With jury duty last week and school starting for me this week, it's been a little hectic around here. I've also had several appointments for A.J. lately. We're still working on figuring out the reason(s) for his fainting and have another appointment with a specialist next Thursday. If we find out anything, I'll be sure to let everyone know, but as of now, there's nothing new.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Musings of a second-grader

I just moved into second grade. I had a substitute today. Her name was Mrs. Profitt. It was her first time at our school. She was always a substitute teacher, but at different schools.
The Cards lost today, 10-2.
I got new underwear that has Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and Bulkhead (Transformers) on it.
I'm watching the USF v. Kansas football game. They are tied at 34 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Somebody just got hurt. USF has the ball.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Levi finally pooped in the potty today. He has had absolutely no interest in that aspect of potty training until this week. He said way back in July that he would do it on Uncle Jon's birthday. That's August 7th, and this is September. But that's ok. Thursday at his new pre-school (which he absolutely loves) he was outside when he suddenly yelled "I have to poop in the potty!" (This is a first.) His teacher Miss Valerie ran him inside, where he sat on the potty for a whole minute, or so. (Another first.) Then, just this morning, I heard "I have to poop in the potty!" And a few minutes later came "I pooped in the potty! I pooped in the potty! I'm not small anymore, I'm bigger now!" I took him to wash his hands in our bathroom while Aaron wisely cleaned up his little potty. But, when Levi was done, he went and opened his potty and exclaimed, "Hey, where'd it go!?!" He wanted to save his poop, but I convinced him we could take a picture of him and his potty and save that instead. So we did.

Here's what Levi had to say about it: When I was pooping in potty, I was feeling proud. Then I got up and put my underwear on and wipe myself and wash my hands. After that I got three M&M's and made cookies. The End.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The First Day of School!


I'm A.J. and this is a very special day for you [you guys] you get to here about my first day of school. My new teacher is Mrs. Lo (Lohuaru). She is very nice and I have lots of friends in my class. Daniel R. is new at my school, but is in Mrs. Severe's class. I knew him already from church. I have friends in almost every class. Here is the picture from my first day.

- A.J.

Levi also started at his new school today. He sure was excited. We had barely walked in when he made himself right at home. He ran to his classroom and greeted the little bird that is the class pet with "Good morning, Twinkle!" His class is called the kangaroos and his teachers are Miss Nicole and Miss Valerie. I took a picture of him outside the entry gate at his preschool as well as one before we left the house this morning. They're pretty cute.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're home!

Well, we made it. We're all back home and no one got killed. There was more arguing and sass-n-attitude spread around than we expected, so not everything was as fun as planned, but all in all it was a good trip. The best day was Saturday, when we got to go kayaking in a sheltered bay. Levi absolutely loved it. He was in the red boat with me, while A.J. went in the green boat with Aaron. He had a pretty good stroke technique with his smaller paddle. With every dip of his paddle, he would say "stroke...stroke...stroke." Or he would sing songs he thought were appropriate. The boys loved camping, especially getting to be the stake holders while Aaron and I pushed the stakes in the ground. They liked having the firebuilding job of stick-gatherer. A.J.'s face was priceless when he saw that his last smore had two marshmallows squishing out the sides. We saw so many beautiful places, from deserts to mountains and seashore to savannas. We didn't get pictures of everything, things like kayaking aren't well suited to taking cameras along, especially when children are involved. We did get some good ones, though. Here are some of my favorites. Right, Along the lower yosemite falls trail.

The coyote we saw off our balcony one morning.

The top of Mammoth Mountain (we rode a gondola to the top).

A butterfly that kept landing on us at the Bridalveil Falls campground.

The almost dried up Bridalveil falls.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

It's A.J.'s birthday! We're not at home, so we went to Denny's for his birthday dinner. The boys had the smiling alien pancakes (no cherries) and a side of colored goldfish. Appetizing, isn't it? Afterwards, he got to pick a dessert, so he chose the very large piece of chocolate cake. They didn't have any candles, but several waiters came and sang to him. He was pretty happy about all of it. He and Levi shared the cake, Aaron and I nabbed a few bites. They devoured it awfully fast, but I managed to get a few pictures of them working on it.

We also went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today. It's an amazing place. They have the most sharks I have seen in an aquarium, along with several very large tuna and giant sea bass. A.J. really wanted to see the penguins, and was rewarded with one tapping its beak on the glass right in front of him. Levi's greatest desire was to see the jellyfish. Wow. MBA has a jelly exhibit like no other. Several tanks with as many varieties. Some were colorful, others completely transparent. We got a couple of shots of the boys in front of the sea nettles. I'm not so sure why Levi was pouting in the second one, but it's cute anyway.

Tomorrow it's farther south, and some oceanic kayaking, which I am really looking forward to. And then...HOME!