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!