Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This is Christmas at the Robinsons:

In the pool. Caleb just learned to swim.


Self portrait, just to prove I really was there.

Our stockings this year were really hosery (and yes, Santa brings toothpaste) - our stuff still hasn't arrived (it's two months late) - which also means that I had to bake my pies in a casserole dish and its lid. Yes, that is pumpkin pie. I bought a japanese pumpkin and steamed and mashed it. It tasted great, but too much work. I'm not really a fan of pumpkin pie anyway. I just wanted it because I couldn't have it.

Ginger bread houses.

We had dinner and played games with friends, then climbed around on Mount Coot tha.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A tale of two Pies

Thanksgiving was great. We celebrated on Saturday with some fellow Americans. Christy (from Baton Rouge) and Mike (Colorado) cooked the bird (and made Christy's grandma's cornbread stuffing - yum!), which left us with the other stuff. I love pie and I was really looking forward to pumpkin pie. I decided to make a pecan pie too - mostly for Christy - she's southern and she's pregnant. Gotta have pecan pie.
Alright, I admit, I procrastinated. Friday night, I went to the store to get the ingredients. I already had the crust tackled. My mom sent me Crisco for Christmas. (Can't get Crisco here - we cook with butter.) Thanks mom. Pie crust just isn't the same without it.
On to the filling. I asked one of the nice blokes at the grocery store where I might find pumpkin pie filling. He looked at me like I was crazy. Ok. How about just pie filling, do you sell that? "Thud oil on the leeft, might." (Translation - third isle on the left, mate.) He sent me to the pie fillings. There was minced chicken pie, curried beef pie. Hmm. Apparently "pie" here is made with meat. Oh, ok. Could you direct me to the tart fillings? No pumpkin. Do you have pumpkins? Sure, would you like butternut pumpkin? Ok, so pumpkin is squash. How about apples? Do you have those? Good.

On to the pecan pie. My recipe calls for Karo syrup. I already know they don't carry it here, but I have connections. My friend Penny (just returned from living in Finland) just happened to see it at an obscure convenience store ($6 for an extra small bottle.) All I needed was the nuts. Once again, I asked the chappy in produce what he had. Do you have puhCAHNS? No, how about puhCANS? PeaCahns? Oh, never mind, I see them over there. Oh, did you mean PEAcins? Yes. The pie was great.

Next year, I will be ordering pumpkin pie filling from the American online grocery, and those little fried onion things for the green beans.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

This video has me thinking.

Some of the things I'm thankful for:

My patient, loving, hardworking husband
My five fun kids
My family who loves me even though I live in a different hemisphere
The gospel of Jesus Christ which keeps me anchored in a sea of changing values.
Brother A - I'm going to have to explain this one another day
Health - I can run and not be weary and walk and not faint
The world - there are so many beautiful and interesting places
The ocean
Skype - so I can be there, even when I'm not.
Clean sheets.
Afternoon thunderstorms
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Fresh tortillas
A good book
The Good Book, and another testament of Christ (the Book of Mormon)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm such a nerd.

I totally went to see "New Moon" last night. (One of the perks of living in Australia is that we get to see it a day early.) Thanks Jennifer for coming on a girls night out with me. (Ooh, and we had yummy and healthy grilled chicken burgers too!)

I love Stephanie Meyer, though I believe her books to be very young adult (not for children) and FICTION. They're just a story. That means don't take it too seriously, girls. There is no Edward. Men don't come like that. (And call me old fashioned, but I don't think teenagers should be sleeping together even if they're just "sleeping" together.) But don't we all love to escape our boring lives for just a few hours . . .

So, about the movie:
You're going to love the part where. . . just kidding, I'd never spoil it for you. (Don't you love people who say things like "don't worry, it has a happy ending." I don't want to know ANYTHING about something I haven't seen.)

All I'm going to say is: Put me on team Jacob.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You know you're not in Kansas anymore . . .

We had a great weekend. We had nothing to do (meaning no birthday parties to go to - actually, there was a birthday party but it was on Sunday and Sarah decided to politely decline - but they brought her party favors anyway, wasn't that nice?!)

We went to the beach. There are so many awesome beaches here, and we can't wait to try them all. Where to start. We looked at a map and asked the kids. They picked Mermaid Beach, on the Gold Coast. An hour in the car and we were there.
It was beautiful. We stayed inside the flags and did a little boogie boarding. The surfers were having a good time - I can't wait to try that. (Inside the flags is the safe area to swim - no rip tides.)

It was Sandwich Sunday this weekend - a sort of munch and mingle after church. We were asked to bring finger food. I confess - I like to make food that tastes good. I want to please people with my culinary skills, you know, make someone's day with a bite of something delicious. So I stressed a little about what to make for Sunday. I'm still laughing about it. I didn't have a thing in my cupboard to make anything exciting (creme brulee isn't exactly a finger food, but it's a croud pleaser) and did I mention that all of the stores close at 5 on Saturday, so there was no running to get a missing ingredient (or popsicle sticks and glue for a 6th grade bridge building project - thanks for the notice, Bryce) and thinking ahead is not one of my greatest skills right now. I keep thinking that will change when all of our stuff arrives . . . you can only blame so much on rental furniture.
So I threw in the towel and made boring old cinnamon rolls. Actually, it's one of my favorite recipes that I got from my friend Jill in Farmington. It makes a ton and is perfect for General Conference. What could be better than enjoying spiritual enlightenment while snuggling with my man, and eating my favorite comfort food?
So I was a little shocked when my boring cinnamon rolls were a hit. People kept coming up to me and asking "what are these?" Someone asked if they were coconut buns (what the?) and no less than 5 wanted the recipe. We're most definitely not in Kansas, Toto. I probably could have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and still had the same reaction though. (I need to find out what coconut buns are. . . )

But, in case you want the recipe, here it is.

Cinnamon Rolls

1 C water
2/3 C sugar
1 T salt
bring to a boil and add
1 C butter and let melt.
then add
3 C milk

in the mean time, add
2 T yeast to
1 C warm water
and let it get frothy, then add to the other liquids. add
4 beaten eggs and
12 C flour
(add 6 C and mix on low 30 sec, then faster 3 minutes. Add remaining flour and knead for 5 minutes)
Divide in 2 and place in 2 oiled bowls. Let rise until double (1 hr) then roll out and sprinkle with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.
Bake 350F (180 C) for 13 minutes. Makes 4 large cookie sheets.

Tastes great with cream cheese frosting.

And speaking of church, look who is passing the sacrament. When did I get old enough to have a 12 year old?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why I'm sitting here eating yogurt out of the carton. . .

One of my favorite songs is "Reasons Why" by Nickel Creek (my favorite group ever). Part of the song says "Others have excuses, I have my reasons why."

These are my reasons why. No excuses.

This is Sarah. She's sweet and cute and a bit shy and rather keen on dancing ballet. Unfortunately, her ballet shoes (lovely hand me downs from her sister) are in a box, in a crate, in a sea can, on a container ship, somewhere between Seattle and Brisbane. A box which I might add was supposed to arrive in October, 6-8 weeks after being packed in August, but which will now be arriving sometime near the end of December, if we're lucky - probably January because everyone takes Christmas as a holiday, and our shipment still has to pass customs, which could take an extra month. (I miss my stuff.)
Well, Sarah is taking ballet and she happens to have a recital coming up in a couple weeks, so she needs her shoes. With nothing to do but laundry and with my little guy watching the Upside Down Show (best Aussie kids show ever) I thought today would be a great day to hunt down a pair of ballet shoes and some pink tights. Did a little research: two shops sell ballet shoes near by - one 45 minutes north of us, another down the road in Fortitude Valley (a trendy shopping area just a couple km's away). I opted for Fortitude Valley. I called the shop and got the cross streets and plugged it in so "Bruce" (my GPS) could do the work. Only he got a little confused, and knowing that parking is difficult to find, and thinking I was close to the shop, I pulled into a parking garage that said "parking from $3". The closest spot was on level 5, and a tight squeeze for our Mitsubishi Pajero. (Never heard of a Pajero? It's because they don't exist in the US.) I happened to notice they only take coins to pay for parking, which made me nervous because all I had was a $50 bill - a rarity for me since I technically don't have a bank account here (long story), so first item of business was getting change. It's lunch time, so I thought I'd grab a slice of pizza for Caleb and head over to the store. Caleb pointed to a slice and I bought it. He freaked. He didn't want the pizza (which I now realize has pineapple - he hates), he wanted the sausage roll on a stick (which I wouldn't buy anyway), so I'm stuck with the task of eating the pizza (which wasn't in my calorie (er Kilojoule) budget today). I end up picking up the crying toddler and heading toward where I think the store is.

After looking around a while I finally ask directions and hear that the shop is 20 min's walk down the road. Wondering if I would be able to find another parking space, I opt to walk, but now Caleb is asleep on my shoulder. Did I mention that he weighs approximately 20 kilos. My shoulder is falling off and my shoes are rubbing wrong, and it's hot. I would have worn shorts, but I fell down while climbing the stairs at Ascot State School yesterday (thank you to the Sheila in the 4 inch heels who ran over to pick me up) and now I have a black and blue knee which isn't particularly attractive - so I'm wearing long pants, and a large bandaid. There, tucked between the Mercedes and Mazaradi dealership is the trendy shopping center.

After asking two more people for directions I find my ballet shop. I tell the lady at the counter what I'm looking for. After translating twice in my head I realize that she has said that I really aught to bring my daughter in to have her shoes fitted as they come in 4 different widths. Couldn't I bring her back another day? Did I mention that shops here close at 5 on the dot. Every one. Some grocery stores stay open until 8, but everything else is done at 5. No, I really can't come back another day. So I estimate her width and get her a pair and some pink tights (total $79! blink blink), and haul my heavy toddler back to the parking garage, all the while eyeing the open parking spaces on the street. By this time, my heels are bleeding from my unwise shoe choice, and the hair which I blowed dry and straight this morning has become "Hermione hair" (as my friend Jennifer would say), and I am dripping in sweat. Australian deodorant is not made for Americans.

I go to the ticket booth in the Car Park, and find that I owe $15! I was gone just over an hour! I have to do a 15 point turn to get my car out of the tiny space. It takes 3 wrong turns for "Bruce" to get me headed in the right direction and I'm home. What is there to do on a day like this but put a little ice on my aching heels and eat a bowl of "moose tracks" ice cream. Mint chocolate chip would even do! Unfortunately, my body thinks it's time to store up for winter, when really, it's just come season for putting on swimmers (togs, cozy, whatever you say). That means, no ice cream. So yogurt it is, only I haven't run the dish washer yet, so all the bowls are dirty.

I'm eating yogurt out of the carton.

These are my reasons why. Long story.

I think I'll just stay home tomorrow and iron pleats.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bryce's first Video

Bryce was assigned to make this video. He did a great job! I love the ending. Sorry we didn't have Juli's iTunes stuff on the mac so the music selection was pretty small. Hope you like Irish music......

Saturday, October 24, 2009

For the record

That spider was nearly dead when we found it. Shon flicked it and it fell on its back and stayed there. Just thought you should know since I can tell some of you are considering not coming to visit. And it wasn't poisonous either. So there.
Here's a big, happy, messy face for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crikey, it's a big one!

I woke up this morning, and went to make breakfast, and before I had even put in my contacts, I could see this beauty waiting for me in my living room.
Let's take a closer look.
Thank goodness my Lone Ranger was there to save the day. You're my hero, Shon. I'm not scared of spiders, but I've never had a Huntsman Spider (not to be confused with the Huntsman Cancer Center, which we love) hanging out on the wall.

Here's Shon in action. He used the swat and stomp technique. The spider is no longer with us.

Actually, I live in a zoo. I saw a fruit bat fly past my house last night. It looks more like a flying chihuahua - they call them flying foxes. You're in serious guano if you leave your laundry out for the night - green poop everywhere.

Shon posted about our trip to the zoo. What he didn't mention was the animals we saw that weren't part of the display. The wild turkeys tried to steal our lunch. Kookaburras were in the trees.
And these burley Iguanas were fighting over a lovely female - on the sidewalk. My favorite was in the snake cage - not part of the exhibit.
Don't worry, it's on the other side of the glass. Not that I'm scared or anything.

Please note: No one (besides Steve Irwin, who we adored) says "Crikey" here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm lost!

We've officially been in Australia for three weeks. I've learned a lot in those three weeks, but I must say, I'm still lost.
I'm lost in the grocery store. I have no idea where my favorite items are or if they even carry them. I couldn't help noticing that vanilla here tastes sweet! I made a big scene the other day when I asked where I could find baking soda. After consulting three employees and a grandmother with a straw hat, I realized that baking soda here is called bicarbonate of sodium. Of course, it's sodium bicarbonate! I have yet to find Crisco. I never realized I even cooked with Crisco until I couldn't find it. My cookies and biscuits are just not the same with butter. Would you believe that bell peppers here are called capsicum. Wha? And did I mention that everything is measured in grams here - flour, butter, salt, water. I bought a scale, but I'm still lost. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't find a single cereal that looked familiar - oh yeah, there's Rice Krispies, I mean Rice Bubbles.
I'm lost on the phone. I can't talk to people on the phone without repeating several times "pardon, could you say that again?" I'd just say "What?" but that's a little bit rude-americanish. I still don't think that handy man who came by today was speaking English. Really, would you mind repeating that. I don't know my phone number. People ask and I look at my palm where I have written it in permanent marker. It would be easier to learn the phone numbers here if they weren't so randomly grouped. It could be xxxx-xxxx or xx-xxx-xxx or xxx-xxx.
I'm lost at school. Yesterday was "student free day" but I had no idea until my children were already in their uniforms. (I'm not sure if student free day meant a free-day for the students, or a student-free day for the teachers, like fat-free or drug-free.) I have no idea how to button the white collars on to their shirts and I confess that until this week I had never ironed pleats.
I'd better master that one soon - I have a feeling that if I took the girls skirts in to the cleaner, he'd probably sigh and say "Oh, St. Margarets. . . " I have yet to figure out how to use the tuckshop (canteen) - at which you can purchase lunch (sushi included on the menu) or morning tea, via a basket system? (Basket system?!) I think the kids are doing well, but at the parent teacher interviews yesterday, their teachers mentioned that they need help in measurment (metric!) and counting money (in Australian $ which has tiny $2 coins and 20 cent pieces).

I'm lost driving. I still can't back out and look over my left shoulder. Half the time I still turn on my windshield wipers when I aim for the blinker. Twice this week I have gone to the passenger side door when I was the driver. I will avoid parallel parking at all costs. I cling to my GPS (whom we have affectionately named "Bruce,") like a security blanket, though yesterday he led me astray - straight over the Gateway bridge (toll $2.95 each way!) We've decided it's better for our marriage if Shon drives - that way he won't have to sit in the passenger seat and cringe every time we turn a corner. It is seriously disorienting to be in the passenger seat and not have control of the vehicle. He's been very patient with me and my new drivers ed. It might help if they put a big A in my window for "American Driver" like they do with the L here - L for "Learning" then P for "Provisional" after one year.

I've been lost for a couple of weeks, but there is one place I know I'm not lost - at church. We showed up at our ward building and I know where to sit and I know that the library would lend me a set of scriptures (because my luggage was too heavy - 60 lb - I only brought a missionary copy of the Book of Mormon) and the children know that primary is after sacrament meeting, and we sing the same songs. I know I have visiting teachers to call if I need help. We watched General Conference 6 days late (because we're 16 hours ahead, the meetings were broadcast in the middle of the night), but I knew I was still sustaining the same prophet, whom I love, and I felt at home - that same spirit of comfort I feel in my own home/apartment/hotel room.
Before we could come on this assignment, we had to have an interview (aka psychological evaluation) in Houston. After asking many questions about the strength of our marriage and our drug/alcohol habits, they asked if we had some sort of support system. We said we were LDS, you know, Mormon, and the woman doing the interview said "Oh, I guess we're done here." Wherever I am, I am at home.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Somewhat settled

Hi it is Shon so if it isn't cute it isn't Juli's fault........

We are getting more and more settled. Today we bought a fridge, washing machine, dryer, TV, DVD player, the list goes on and on. It is nice to have behind us. Today for the first time we kind of have stuff set up. We have the upstairs TV, DVD player set up (huge deal). We have the downstairs TV, DVD, and game systems set up (again huge deal). It is starting to feel like home. Juli keeps walking around saying I love my house, I love my house. I hope that isn't code for "there's no place like home". Hmmmmmm. We'll see.

Emily played the xylophone in a concert Thursday night. She did well. I could tell what the song was when she played it without any question.

We still have lots to do but we are settled enough for you ALL TO COME ON OVER NOW.

Next week will be huge. We get internet and phone service!!!! Then we can skype, call home to the US for free etc. We feel like we don't talk to anyone and we want to. As soon as we can we'll be talking your ears off.

Hope you all had a great week. I love reading everyone's blogs. It keeps me in the loop on what is going on. Jason I love the texts from your phone. That is cool........

Only downer from the move so far is our desktop looks like it didn't make it. Hmmmmm if I lose all the pictures I will be pretty ticked. This is the first move ever where we didn't do a full back up. Duh. It is the farthest ever..... Anyway hopefully it is something recoverable. Thank heavens for our laptops.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

G'day Mate

We're here in Brisbane. It is beautiful and a bit too hot, which is too bad since it's only spring. We're staying in temporary housing and it's driving me nuts. Enough complaining, we're moving to our house on Friday. Yes.

We survived the flight. The fourteen hours from LA to Brisbane were the easy part, thanks in part to a flight attendant named Peter. He was so helpful. We started our day with a 3 hour drive to Salt Lake and then a flight to LA, followed by a 5 hour lay over. Caleb fell asleep in the lounge before we had even gotten on the plane and he didn't get up until 2 hours before we landed. Actually, he did wake up, but I didn't. Thank you Peter for getting him some juice and starting a movie. With unlimited movies and video games, the flight was not hard. Getting through customs with 10 checked bags was a chore, especially since the kids were getting cranky and Caleb refused to sit in the stroller, which meant I had to carry "the child" and push the stroller too. Did I mention that he weighs 40 pounds. We were just lucky no one got lost. Let me tell you, I was glad to see Shon.
The kids started school on Monday. It has been great. People here are so friendly. We've already had play dates and party invites and one awesome mum from school even brought us dinner. There are a lot of people who have lived out of country themselves, so they really understand what our needs are. Penney even let us borrow some toys.

One of the big adjustments has been driving on the left side of the road. Shon is all-pro at it because he lived in Hong Kong. I spent the first day refusing to get behind the wheel (though I accidentally ended up there a couple of times - I was looking for the passenger side but it moved). I was waiting for a parking lot to practice in but there is a complete lack of parking lots here (not a bad thing). I finally submitted to driving on the motorway (freeway). Shon felt inspired to capture the moment on film. I look relaxed, right. Turns out it's not a big deal. Once I stopped running people off the left side of the road (we Americans tend to drift left) I was good. Until I tried backing up. Threw me off again. Oh and yesterday out of the blue I turned a corner and there was no one there. Suddenly I was on the right side again. Oops. I think I'm going to have to completely re-learn how to parallel park. I have so many things to learn.
The kids have been amazing. They got over their jet-lag twice as fast as I did and jumped right in to meet new friends at school. We're loving the new uniforms - one less decision to make in the morning. The girls look like Madeleine in their panama hats and midi skirts. They all belong to Hufflepuff house, I mean Bede. Emily has already asked if she could please stay as a boarder. I had to explain that the boarders come from far out of the city. And no way am I letting my children move out so young. I don't know how the boarders mums do it. I guess if you lived far out in the bush you'd do what you could to get a good education.

Bryce is doing great. He had to choose a sport when he started. His choices were: cricket, tag rugby, or water polo. He picked water polo, though I think he wanted to try cricket (the team was pretty full), which means he'll be wearing a lovely speedo swim suit (they call them "budgie smugglers" here). He blushed when we bought it. They make the kids wear a rashie (swim shirt) when they're swimming. I really like it. It's so much easier to slip on a shirt than to wear sunscreen everywhere.

Of course, the hats really help keep the sun off too. Better not forget your hat or they won't let you out to recess. There's been an epidemic of skin cancer in Australia - a combination of people of european descent and a hole in the ozone. I've already had skin cancer myself, so I welcome the fashions here. It isn't cool to be tan. The only tanning salons I've seen here are the ones that spray paint you.

So, it would be Eden here if only I didn't miss my family and friends so much. I need to talk to my sisters and my mom. I think I'm suffering from withdrawal - headaches, fever, nervous twitching. I haven't run in two weeks. I just ran a marathon on Sept. 19th (recap to come soon), so I keep thinking that I earned it and it can't hurt to rest, but I really miss it and mostly, I miss my friends. They did a marathon without me on Oct. 3. I really wish I could have been there with them. I'm so proud of them. They are awesome. Annie, Stephanie, Debi (and Keith too) you are strong women.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

We're Here!

This is Shon. Juli and the kids made it safely to Australia.

We are having a great time! We went to the beach for the first 5 days in Australia. Then Saturday we went to a Koala preserve in Brisbane. We had no idea what would be there but the kids got to pet kangaroos, hold a koala, hold baby chicks, pet sheep and the sheep dog (that was a cool show). Emily even got to catch, feed, and hold an owl. She did a great job. In that picture with the family Emily really is holding a live Koala bear. Everyone got to hold it even Caleb.
Caleb was a little nervous to pet the kangaroo but once he was in he loved it. He fed it, petted it etc. They were everywhere.
Aren't Bryce and I cute! We chose the same shirt from Jason's mission. Funny.
Abby loves to pose at the beach. The kids loved the 5 days we spent there.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Here we go again . . .

We're still alive.  I know some of you were wondering.  It sounds like a cliche, but really, we are very busy, because we're moving 

to Australia!

It's been 3 awesome years in New Mexico and we are seriously sad to leave, but this will be a great career move for Shon and an adventure for the adventurous Robinsons.  So, I am writing from Brisbane, where we are hunting for a house.   Because of limited internet access, details will follow.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

I love the Earth. I think it's beautiful just the way God made it. I also love this commercial from the Discovery Channel. Awesome.
Just for the record, I didn't take this picture.

I'm not an extreme person. I recycle when it is convenient and I try to re-use or not use plastic bags. (It's amazing how much stuff you can fit into those cloth bags!) I used cloth diapers with a couple of my children - but they had skin allergies, so I was very motivated. For those of you who think that's gross and inconvenient, it's really not. I used Bummis, which is a diapering system that is pinless and uses really thick polyester instead of plastic pants. They're so cute too! It was not a big deal. I heard that 10% of our garbage comes from disposable diapers. That's gross.

I think the easiest tip I could give someone to save money and help the environment (and your clothing) is to use a clothes line. I love my clothes line. I have a five line retractable clothes line - I bought it from a great little hardware store in Durango, Colorado. I admit, I still throw my whites and anything else I don't want the neighbors to see in the drier, but if the weather is nice, my clothes go out on the line. On a breezy, sunny day, even my jeans are done in 20 minutes - not even the fanciest dryer can do that, and without all the wear and tear on my clothes. I never would have considered using a clothes line until my family moved to Canada. Like many Americans, I thought clothes lines were for people who couldn't afford electricity. In Nova Scotia, even the nicest of neighborhoods have clothes lines. I love to see my sheets waving in the wind. I remember making forts and playing shadow tag with my grandmother's sheets. And in New Mexico, my laundry comes out smelling like juniper and cedar. That beats Downy - hands down. Best of all, it gives my an immense sense of satisfaction to see my clean laundry blowing in the breeze. As Cjane would say, "I am a housewife after all." Oh, and that's not my laundry and it's not my grass either (I live in a desert!)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Break (Juli's Take)

OK. That last post was Shon. Thanks for working for me, hon. (He knew it would take me a week to get around to talking about our vacation . . I'm still cleaning sand out of everything.)
Spring Break was awesome. Just for the record, we're really more of a camping/road trip family, but we made a very last minute decision to take advantage of the economy and the travel advisory (no one wants to go to Mexico right now) and get a great deal on a cruise. It ended up being a very family friendly adventure. There was a camp for the kids. We checked them in in the morning and picked them up for meals and again at ten every night (except that night that Bryce and Emily stayed for the party until 3:30 am - way to win the ice cream eating contest, Bryce!) There were some really great activities for all of the kids, appropriate to their ages. They made friends quickly and had a good time. And you should have seen the folded towel origami our housekeeping staff did. Here's a scorpion.

My favorite part of the trip was our stop at the Grand Canyon. We have a national park pass and fully intend to get our money's worth. Coming from a family that stops to read historical marker signs, this is an easy thing.

I learned that the scrubby little pinon and juniper trees in my yard are 200 years old! It was so much fun to drive Route 66. I kept singing the song as we passed "Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino." I think the kids are a little sick of "Get your kicks - on Route 66", but I loved it, especially the classic cars.

Catalina was beautiful, Ensenada was fun. I have to say that I never felt anything but completely safe in Mexico. I think the tourist industry is really taking a hit because of a few dangerous people. I had fun shopping. My favorite purchase was a "recycled" hand bag. It's made of wrappers. Yep, I see an oreo in there. Maybe a Capris Sun too. Here's a cheesy pose.

I love the beach.

While we were gone, my running buddies did the Canyonlands Half Marathon. It was my first big race last year. (Read about it here.) I think I'll always love it. I was sad not to do it with them, so I made them some goodie baskets. I threw in some Gatorade, a Runner's World magazine, some Jelly Belly Gu beans, a couple energy bars, a box of pasta (for carb-loading) and put it in a basket (which was cheaper than a gift bag - weird!) - some cellophane and a bow and anything will look good. I wish I had thought to put in a copy of my running mix, but ipods aren't allowed in Moab anyway.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break

Wow what a great trip this week. We started out driving from home to the Grand Canyon. We started at the East side and went West. It was awesome. The kids loved the tower. It provided an incredible view of the canyon and was awesome inside. The decorating inside was done by native artists and was neat to look at. We ended up near the village and the kids all got their Junior Ranger Park Badges. Here are some pictures.

After the Grand Canyon we drove to Kingman Arizona and stayed in a hotel there for the night. Sarah, Emily, Abby, and Caleb spent some time in the pool there (hot tub). The next morning we drove to LA to see Jason and Alex. It was fun to spend Sunday afternoon with them. We got to their house right when they were finishing church. We decided to go to the beach. The beach was a little windy but that didn't stop any of our kids from getting in the water. They all got soaked, sandy, wet, and cold. We didn't have changes of clothes or towels so it was funny to see what they wrapped up in for the drive home (J's pants were definately too big for Bryce) and jackets got lots of use. Alex said that was the windiest she had ever seen the beach. We all had sand in ALL our crevices without even getting in the water.

Then Monday we headed off for the cruise. The kids loved it. We spent a day at sea, visited Catalina Island, Ensenada Mexico and then headed back to LA. On Friday since Jason and Alex had to work we went to the beach until they got home. The weather was awesome. The kids said it was one of the highlights. They played and played and played.
After the beach we went back to Jason and Alex's house (awesome house by the way) and had dinner and then Juli and Alex went shopping while the rest of us stayed home and played video games and watched movies. Finally on Saturday we made the entire drive home. We did it in 13.5 hours including Caleb's 10 potty stops and an hour plus at the Petrified Forest National Park. That was cool!