Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Minute Road Trip . . .

Well, we weren't planning on going anywhere this holiday season. We rationalized it by telling ourselves that we had just seen Adam's parents at Thanksgiving, Adam couldn't get any time off, and our budget wasn't looking friendly either. We had resigned ourselves to having our first Christmas alone together and it was going to be fine. As I look back now, events were set into motion that allowed us to do what we really wanted, but didn't want to say out loud, and that was go home to Utah and see our families.

In a terrible twist of fate(I say blessing in disguise), Adam's younger brother Skyler was involved in a awful 4-wheeler accident breaking 4 ribs, crushing a vertebrae, breaking both bones in his forearm, breaking his femur off at the hip-socket, and puncturing a lung. This happened about 10 days before Christmas. Through constant phone contact his brother made it through 2 lifeflights and was stable. As a result, Adam decided to tell his boss about the situation and see if there was a chance he could get an extra day or two before Christmas day off. His boss must have been visited by the ghost of Christmas present, because he let him have the whole week of Christmas off.
We took care of business at church and jumped in the car to make the 15-hour road trip. My parents had no idea that we were coming and I really wanted to surprise them. Adam saw his brother and most of the rest of his family. We were in constant contact with my sister to keep my parents in the dark. My brother and sister-in-law had their baby while we were there. When we got to may parents house, we snuck in the front door while my sister was distracting my mom in the kitchen. We went right behind her back and into her bedroom without her noticing. Lindsay kept trying to get my mom to go into the bedroom by telling her there was a big, ugly spider in there, but my mom just told her to kill it herself. Finally, she came in and saw us and was almost shocked to tears. It was really nice to be home.

Tori and Lindsay got a bunch of games for the Wii, so the bulk of our vacation was spent in this manner. My favorite is Tori trying to do the hula hoop in the Wii Fit....hilarious!

Home away from Home.

Adam came home the other day and was telling me that he was talking to some of the guys he works with. One is a bachelor and one is married with no children. They both commented to Adam that besides their coworkers, they don't know anyone in this area. My first reaction upon hearing that was to feel so sad for them. I immediately felt so much gratitude for being a member of the church. We have only been here about 7 months and we have already made so many friends and connections. We knew when we moved to town that there were people here we could trust to tell us little things like where to get our car fixed, or help me find a part-time job. People we hardly know have invited us into their homes and treated us like family and gone out of their way to make sure that we feel comfortable here in this new place that is VERY foreign to us. It is nice to know that wherever in the world we may travel we can find this family of Saints and know that we are not alone in this world when we reach out to them. Here are just a few of the members of the San Rafael II Ward at our Christmas party:

What's in a name?

I am working with a family right now with 3 kids. The primary reason they need my help is because of their middle son, Christian. He was born with cerebal palsy, which means he has little control over the muscles in his body. Besides for the fact that his body can be very rigid, his condition is best compared to that of an infant. Although his physical capabilities are very limited, he makes up for it with a large dose of personality. He fully lives up to his name. I have never met a five year old who is so compassionate, patient, positive, and optimistic. Anytime that I or his mother suggest some activitiy for him to do he responds very politely with "sure" or "that sounds great". He is always commenting on how beautiful the weather is and how nice it is to be friends. Sometimes it's like living in Mr. Roger's neighborhood. At the same time, he is very much a 5-year-old little boy in many ways. He likes to tease his younger sister and can't laugh too much at farting and burping noises. He is a truly happy little spirit and I often think of him when I start feeling sorry for myself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lighted Boat Parade

We have been introduced to all sorts of different Christmas traditions since we have been living in the Bay area. Saturday we went to a light boat parade. It was a competition among yachts to see who could put on the best show and really decorate their boat for the holidays. I didn't bring my camera because I thought it would have been too dark for photos, but we saw saw everything from Santa to Aliens. Luckily, the winning boat was posted on YouTube and I have put it here for your viewing pleasure. Now if jet engines, Tesla coil, air raid sirens, Polynesian fire dancers, a huge statue engulfed in flames, and Bruce Springsteen's "R-O-C-K in the USA" doesn't bring out the Christmas spirit in us all, I just don't know what would? It was quite the spectacle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roy and Juli Come to Visit

Naturally the holidays are a time when family and friends gather, but like many of our blogging friends out there, we are unable to go to where our family is...so this year they came to us. Adam's parents, Roy and Juli, came to visit for a week and we gave them the royal treatment. We almost felt like we were on vacation too!
Thanksgiving Day we visited Muir Woods. The sun was shining beautifully down through the world's tallest trees and reminded us of the sacred grove. Roy thought he would test the accuracy of the age of the tree by counting the rings himself, but his efforts were thwarted by the rest of us tourists who wanted to see the rest of the forest.

That same day we also made our way down to Stinson beach. Even though it was a little bit cloudy and windy there is just something about the beach that brings out the romantic in everyone.

The next day we packed up our lunch and headed to Muir Beach. Since the tide was so low we found a treasure trove of sea creatures.

That smile is totally genuine!

We took in a session at the majestic Oakland Temple and then picked up a Christmas tree on the way home. That evening everyone was preparing for Christmas in their own way. Adam was cheerfully helping me decorate the tree, Roy was intensely reading, and Juli was coloring and preparing Christmas gifts for her grandkids.

It's Christmastime in the city! San Francisco was all decked out for the holidays and it wasn't too cold either so we took a little cruise around the bay so that Roy and Juli could experience Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge up close and personal.

On our final evening we made it back to the Oakland Temple to see the Christmas lights. We were very impressed by the display! It was the perfect ending to a wonderful week!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Season of Gratitude

One more activity under my belt. This time we had sort of a hybrid event combining Thanksgiving and Christmas. We called it "Season of Gratitude". Our committee is down to 2 people now and so I was put in charge of all of the food and my cohort took care of the decor and program. It was lovely to be reminded that being grateful is something we must show, not just say. I am really starting to enjoy our ward family. Adam was speaking to some of his coworkers the other day and they were telling him that if it weren't for their job, they wouldn't know anyone around here. I felt sad for them. I cannot imagine how lonely life would be if not for the instant support system and fellowship offered by members of the church. Does that background look familiar?

Thank heaven for frozen lasagna!

No shortage of desserts in this economic crisis. Just plenty of comfort food!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have a rough job. I have to go to the park, eat snacks at regular intervals, watch Dora the Explorer, color, and I don't even have to do any of the ugly discipline, because at the end of my shift I just give her back to her mom. She is a fiesty little 3-year-old with big, brown eyes and a some sort of new england accent (I love how she says breakfast "brekek" and Christian "chish-chin"). Adam and I think she is hilarious. I wonder what she will grow up to be.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Craft Night

I was a little worried at first that there wouldn't be a very good response to all the planning and preparation that I have been doing for the past 6 weeks to get ready for craft night. Relatively speaking, for this tiny ward, it is was a raging success! I was glad to get to know some of the sisters I never see because I am in primary on Sundays. Here are the photos of my limited crafting abilities and the publicity I did for the event:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fondue at its Finest

On Halloween night we decided to stay far away from any crazy costume parties that may have been taking place in the city. However, it is hard tell those who come to the city in costume to celebrate from those who inhabit this interesting part of the globe.

We opted for a relaxing dinner at a restaurant that we have been wanting to try since we moved here. The Melting Pot is not unique to the area, but they did build it inside of an old brick kiln in Larkspur, so it makes for great ambiance.

The premise of the restaurant is an entire meal where every course is fondue-style. We started with spinach-artichoke cheese, moved on to the main course of cooking raw meats in a seasoned broth and finished off with a Flaming Turtle...a chocolate, carmel, pecan fondue set on fire for our dining pleasure. Since it was Halloween we got the dessert for free, but that hardly made a dent in the very steep bill. It was a charming experience that I recommend doing just once.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lindsay Takes Over San Francisco

My sister Lindsay came to visit for over a week and I was so excited to have someone to show around my new stomping grounds.

So, before we could do any "stomping" we got ourselves some awesome pedicures!

The day after she arrived we took her to Six Flags-Discovery Kingdom, which is about 45 minutes away from our house. She rode the 3 biggest coasters they had and then puked 3 times in a row...way to go Lindsay!

Can you guess what Adam was for halloween?

Some people thought it was his real hair. One girl thought he was Richard Simmons. I laughed about that one for a while and told him he should've worn short-shorts. The missionaries were about the only ones who recognized him as Napoleon Dynamite.We all dressed up and went to the ward halloween party. Lindsay was just glad to have an excuse to put colors in her hair. I sorta looked like a $2 hooker, but since we were at the church I just told people I was that doll at the bottom of the toy box that nobody plays with anymore.

Our next door neighbor, Bruce, gave us some fresh trout that he had caught that day. Adam was pretty excited for dinner that night.

Sunday we went up to Rocklin to visit one of my mission companions, Michelle Porter. She took some photos for us, so don't be surprised when you see them on our Christmas cards!

Monday we went to the Jelly Belly Factory. They gave us a free tour and showed us how they make millions of jelly beans everyday. We had a lot of fun there tasting the new Coldstone flavors they are making.

Wednesday is looked kinda gloomy, but we were determined to see San Francisco. We took the ferry across the bay in all the fog and wind.

Luckily, when we got there it was nice and sunny, which is rare for SF. As we walked down to the wharf I was trying to tell Lindsay about this giant yacht that I had seen in Sausalito and as we turn the corner it was docked right in front of us. It is touted as the largest privately owned yacht in the world and cost over $150 million.

You can't come to SF without visiting the famous Pier 39. It is full of all the souvenier shops and you can get some great sourdough bread as well.

Lindsay liked the street performers, but I wasn't impressed enough to give him a tip.

Ghiradelli Square was what I really wanted to see that day(even though I've seen it several times already). This place never gets old. They pass out free samples of chocolate and you can't leave without visiting the ice cream parlor next door and tasting the hot fudge!

By the afternoon the fog had cleared enough that we decided to take a boat cruise around the bay. On our way out we passed by all of the barking sea lions. They always remind me of the days when I shared a bedroom with all of my siblings. Each one is fighting for their space on the dock and when one moves they all get mad at each other. It is fun to watch them.

When Lindsay came out and helped us move, she never got to see the bridge before she left because it was always too foggy. She finally got a glimpse of it when the boat when right underneath.

The things I do for my sister. It was freezing in the bay!

The cruise had a recording that was explaining all the sights we saw. It sailed us around the infamous Alcatraz prison. I have yet to go inside, but it has a very interesting story behind it (I recommend the 1979 Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz).

It was a really great day until we were going to get on the ferry to go home and I discovered that somewhere in the last two blocks I had LOST my wallet! It had our ferry tickets in it, so we called Adam to come and pick us up. Luckily, we only live about 15 minutes outside of downtown and paying the toll was cheaper than buying new ferry tickets.

The next stop in Lindsay's California adventure was Muir Woods. This is an awesome national monument that is full of big beautiful Redwood trees. Now, they are not the giant redwoods that you can drive your car through, but they are pretty intimidating in their own right. Plus, the park is just a lush, green rainforest so I could spend all day there.

I knew Lindsay would meet her soul mate in California!

She fits right in the with all the real tree-huggers around here.
Right before we took Lindsay to the airport in Oakland, we stopped to show her the temple grounds. Now, when we were there it was actually pouring rain, but it really is a gorgeous temple. We even went in the visitors center and saw a sculpture tour of the Savior. Is was a really nice way to send Lindsay off.