Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pig whisperer

So I went to go visit my friend this evening.  She has a pet guinea pig named Spider.  I have the honor of being Spider's aunt and get pig sitting duty when my friend goes out of town.  When I go to visit, I always get Spider out of her cage and play with her.  My friend says that Spider is a bit wild, but I don't believe it.  She does run a bit when you go to take her out of her cage, but once out she is calm as can be.  My friend says it is because I am the pig whisperer.  She told me tonight she was going to make me a t-shirt with my picture on the back, and the title pig whisperer.  I laughed.  My friend definitely knows how to make me smile.  So if any of you see t-shirts advertising pig whisperers......you know where they came from.  :)  See, I even got my kitty and Spider to play nice together. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

It was so nice to have the weekend free of work.  It was a great time to be able to visit with friends and family for the Christmas season.  Saturday morning I went and picked up my brothers and sister and we drove down to visit our Aunt and Uncle.  My cousin Stephanie and her family were up for a visit too, so it was really nice to get to visit with them too.  I got to hold baby Natalie while she napped.  She is soooooooooooo cute.  It was an enjoyable time to laugh, catch up on what's been happening in life, and just relax. 

After the visit, we headed back home, I dropped off my siblings, and then headed out to my cousin's house for more visiting and dinner.  Chicken sushi rolls are something I can enjoy. Yum.  We watched some classic Christmas shows, sang some Christmas songs, and I was treated to Chase's replay of Gold Rush or Bust.  (a play I missed recently).  I was greatly entertained.  While we visited we checked in with NORAD to track Santa's progress.  As he got closer and closer to the west coast the hour got later and later.  Soon it was time for family prayer and time for me to head home.

I was up early on Christmas morning.  No, it wasn't in anticipation of what Santa had dropped off at my house, but in preparation to drive out to Elk Grove for church.  I was going to be spending Christmas day with the Smith family, so I got ready and made the trek.  I got to the chapel where the Smith family was in last minute practice for musical numbers.  I found a spot on the front bench, had a nephew on either side of me, and was provided with the church bag which held the coloring books, toys, and goodies to help keep the boys occupied should they get a bit restless during the meeting.  Mom and Dad Smith were going to be busy playing piano, being chorister, and singing during the meeting so I got to sit with the boys.  I had a grand time, and the boys were really well behaved.  The music was beautiful, the messages shared were uplifting, and the spirit was strong.  After the meeting we headed back to the Smith home, where we got busy preparing some lunch.  I distracted the boys with races, playing with some of the Christmas toys, and then I made myself helpful by setting the table.  Lunch was great, roast, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, all so very yummy.  We cleaned up and the boys finished opening their gifts. 

After that fun was over it was nap time for some, and cookie making time for others.  We got out the cookie cutters, the cookie dough (gingerbread of course) and began to make cookies.  We had presents, santas, snowmen, snowflakes, candy canes, etc.  It was so much fun.  Then Carie made some icing so that we could decorate them too.  We decorated some of the cookies, and ate a good number of them.  :)  Then it was time for a Christmas movie.  We watched White Christmas.  It was a lot of fun.  The boys decided that I needed to practice my skills at watching the movie and entertaining them at the same time.  I became the Auntie jungle gym.  It made me laugh.  After the movie was over we had some root beer floats, then it was time to head home.  I had a very enjoyable Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small gifts bring great joy

I arrived home and remembered that Sister Miller left a voicemail that there were some treats dropped off for me on the porch.  I walked to the front door and low and behold there was a box of yummy goodies on the door handle.  Then I looked down and what did I see.  It was a package of pop tarts with a note taped to it. I was curious so I read on.  "To Sister Hernandez: From Logan.  Merry Christmas hope you enjoy the pop tarts.  Also, why don't you have milk with it.  Love Logan"  What a sweet gesture of giving, from one of my future primary kids.  The Miller's goodies look equally enticing.  I felt so loved from both generous gifts.  You just have to love the Christmas season.  So many reminders of the joy of the season, and the service and love shared. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hot Chocolate surprise

Hot chocolate is my favorite thing during the cold winter months, and I find that it is my "comfort" food when I'm feeling stressed, worn out, or just plain not feeling well.  A friend recently introduced me to European Cafe Style hot chocolate (available at Safeway) and it is some of the best hot cocoa I've had (beware milk chocolate lovers, it may not be to your liking, it is dark chocolate).  It comes in a nice little canister which I've put to good use. 

This evening when I opened the canister in order to scoop some cocoa powder into my mug I found a surprise.  No, it was not a mouse (good guess though).  It was a sandwich baggie with money in it.  I immediately got a huge smile on my face as I knew who the culprit was.  It was Nadia.  She had mentioned giving me some money for the month of December for letting her stay with me.  I told her that she didn't need to, and that I wouldn't take any money from her if she tried to give me any.  We bantered back and forth about it, and I told her that I'm pretty good at finding hidden things so not to even try hiding it.  I thought I'd won.

Nadia sure got me.  I would not have thought about checking the cocoa container before she left.  In fact it's been several days since I've had any cocoa.  Nadia enters the Missionary Training Center tomorrow to begin her 18 month adventure as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Now it's my turn to figure out a fun and creative way to send the money back her way.  :)

Let the creative process begin.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Long time no write

I don't think I quite realized how little time I'd have when I decided to go back to school.  It has been a very very very bus semester.  Homework has been keeping me busy in the evenings and on weekends.  Work has been busy with lots of overtime (not such a good thing when I still have homework that needs to be done).  The garden got neglected, the cat dislikes when I get the laptop out to do homework, though he eventually settles down and sleeps at my side while I do literature searches or type papers, and the yard needs some attention.  My last final of the term is tomorrow.  Then a short break during which I'll be trying to catch up on yard work, and trying to fit in a social life since I've been in hiding to complete homework. 

I'm glad I went back to school though.  I have learned so much this term, and am very excited for my future in public health.  It took a little while to get back in the groove of having homework assignments, and lots of reading assignments, but things are looking up as I think I've finally got it down. 

Besides work and homework, I haven't had too much time for much else.  My roommate and I have watched a few movies here and there.  We watched a very interesting documentary on the Russian ballet last week.  The good old times.  My roommate leaves for the MTC this week, and I'll miss having her around.  She is going to be a fantastic missionary though, and she will do great in Russia. 

I was present when my roommate got set apart this morning.  It brought back so many memories of my mission.  Today is 10 years since I left for the MTC.  I can't believe how fast time flies by.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday. 

Well, that's enough for now, I just wanted to get something into the blog since it has been such a long time since I wrote. 

Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Outside adventures

It has been a fun few days and I am only now just getting around to jotting it all down.  It all started Friday afternoon.  After a long week of work I was looking forward to spending some quality time with Carie and the nephews.  They made it to my house just after 6 and we sat down and had some french fries and chicken nuggets.....or in Elias' case, a little chicken nugget with his ketchup.  As dinner was drawing to a close the boys started to ask about watching a movie.  I thought it was still too light outside for that so we grabbed a frisbee and a bat and ball and walked down to the park.  I took the kids over to the play structure and Carie went to grab a treat from the icecream man who conveniently came around the corner just as we arrived at the park.  The boys had a fantastic time.  They climbed, slid, jumped, and ran all over the play structure.  Elias and I played some frisbee, he's pretty good for just shy of four years old.  Isaac laughed alot, played some baseball, and finally decided going down the slide would be ok.  It was so much fun watching the boys play.  Then we headed home back to my house.  We had some donut holes and then we put on the movie Cars and Carie and I got to visit.  After a little while I brought out my toy helicopter and the boys were pretty excited to see it flying around the living room.  I think I crashed it one too many times because now the whole copter spins endlessly to the right.  Something isn't quite right and I'm not sure if I can fix it.  The boys were pretty disappointed that it wouldn't fly anymore.  We finished the movie and they headed home.  It was a fantastic night.

Saturday morning early I got up and watered the garden, did some chores, and then made my way out to the Ikea in West Sacramento.  I met up with Kristi and Jeff so that we could carpool down to Richmond for a day sailing on the Aldebaran.  Along our way we stopped in Dixon to pick up Rosemary.  It was a fun trip down, getting to know everyone in the car.  We made it to the Brown's and gathered our things, stowed them below, and got ready to sove off.  Captain Brown took us out, and we had an amazing sailing trip around the bay.  We passed lots of other sailing ships.  We went out under the golden gate and were treated to some kite surfers showing off their skills.  We saw a coast guard ship leave the bay, it was big.  Then we headed back in under the gate and toured the city along the shoreline waving at the folks at pier 39 along the way.  It was a really unique way to view the city.  I'd never seen that view of the buildings before.  As we passed many piers I didn't even remember seeing before, we headed out under the bay bridge.  As we headed under the bridge we looked back and saw one of the biggest cargo ships ever coming in toward Oakland.  It was loaded to the hilt with cargo containers and looked like it should be sinking and not floating.  All I can say is wow to engineers who can build ships like that.  We looped around and went the other direction back under the new bay bridge, it looked like it might be a tight fit, but as we were under the new section, all was well.  We hit the open water running fast......the boat was well tipped to starboard, and we crashed through the waves.  At one point I stood and had to lean so far forward to keep from tipping over that I felt like I was leaning at a 45 degree or less angle.  It was intense.  I loved it.  We headed back to the port of Richmond.  We unloaded the people and then it was time to cover the sails, not such an easy task.  I left that part to the professionals.  I headed up to the Brown's home to await the scrumptious meal being prepared.  We had some pizza, salads, cookies, and pasta.  What a lovely way to conclude an afternoon adventure.

Fast forward to Monday and more outdoor fun.  It was FHE time and the group was coming to my house to offer some help in my desire to get some landscaping done in the backyard.  Marie, Laura and Nadia worked feverishly to remove the river rock (nothing against the rock which is very nice, I just prefer mulch).  I helped with some rock, then moved on to laying the weed barrier, and spreading the beautiful black bark.  It took the four of us only a couple of hours to finish quite a bit of the area.  If I'd had to do the work on my own, it would have taken 2-3 times as long.  I am so grateful for wonderful friends who were willing to spend their evening giving me a hand with my labors.  They are the best FHE group ever. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baking, Boats, and Blackberry Brambles

Yesterday was my good friend's birthday.  I wondered what kind of gift I could give and figured something edible would probably be best.  I inquired if there was a preference and apple pie was the answer.  So I woke up early and headed to the Walmart Supercenter to see what apple selection I had to pick from.  I was stunned to find that Walmart had no apples at all, I even made a couple trips round the produce section just to make sure.  I quickly went over my options knowing that the day's events were pretty full, and ran over to the freezer section.  I glanced at the frozen options and finally decided on the Claim Jumpers' brand.  I checked out and thought again that home made pie would be oh so much better, and decided I'd give Raleys a try.  I turned down Antelope road and was pleased to find that Raleys did have apples.  My choices were granny smith, gala, or golden delicious, so I gathered some granny smith and gala, checked the time on my phone, then made a beeline for the checkout as I was running behind schedule. 

I got home, unloaded the groceries, put the store bought pie in the freezer, and set to work peeling and coring.  I love that apple peeler corer slicer, it makes the work so much easier.  Apples peeled and in a bowl, I covered it with a towel and then set to mixing the pie crust.  My favorite is the Pampered Chef Perfect Pie Crust recipe.  I rolled out the crust, and decided I needed to try a new way to get it into the pie plate.  The last few times I've tried to just loosen the crust and pick it up didn't work out too nicely.  This time I rolled the crust in the same wax paper that I'd used to roll it out, and then unrolled the crust into the pan.  It worked beautifully.  I then added some sugar, flour, and cinnamon to the apples, mixed, and then added them to the pie plate.  Then I quickly rolled out the top crust, cut some venting slits, and into the oven it went.  I made a couple of calls to adjust the time frame on the pick up of my siblings for our trip to the Aunt and Uncle's house.  Then it was a quick clean up and the waiting game. 

55 or so minutes later the pie came out of the oven and it was pretty. 

Then I hopped in the car, headed towards the arden area and picked up my brother, sister, Kelly and Bella.  We drove down to Pittsburg to spend the afternoon with Aunt Debby and Uncle Tom.  It was fun.  They prepped some food, had the boat all loaded, and after a brief stop for changing and potty breaks, we drove over to the marina in Antioch.  We boarded the boat and headed out to the open water of the delta.  On our way out we saw a huge tanker like ship headed toward the Antioch bridge.  The water was a bit choppy and with so many people on the boat it meant for great splashes as we crested the whitecaps.  We went up and down a couple of the sloughs, and finally beached the boat on a little sandbar area full of blackberry brambles.  We unloaded the chairs, cooler, and toys and set up a little camp area.  We ate some lunch, and then Aunt Debby and I set off on the hunt for blackberries.  We found some, but were not having quite the success we had hoped.  Many of the ripe berries were just out of reach.  That all changed when Uncle Tom brought over a paddle from the raft.  He was able to pull some of the branches with ripe berries closer, and also able to move some of the branches causing problems out of the way.  By the time we finished picking berries we had quite the hat full, literally. 

Then it was time to sit and relax in the shade of the umbrella.  After a little while another boat with quite a few people came to stop at the beach too.  They had a pit bull with them that was wearing a life vest and loved to chase water and sand.  The puppy dog was very entertaining to watch.  It wasn't long before another boat showed up, and then a little while later and two more boats showed up.  It was getting a bit cramped so we packed up the boat and headed back to the marina.  The ride back across the open water was still choppy and this time we all got quite wet.  We made it back to the Aunt and Uncle's house, changed, and then drove back to Sacramento.  I dropped off the passengers, headed to my house, picked up the pie, and then off to Davis I went.  I'd forgotten to pick up some vanilla ice cream during my early morning store run, so on my way into Davis I stopped at Nugget and got some.  You can't have apple pie without it. I arrived and Joseph and I had some pie and ice cream.  I came to conclusion that I like Gravenstein apple pie better, which is all Joseph's fault :) for telling me about the Gravenstein apple which I tried last year while at Apple Hill.  After chatting a while we took a walk around Davis.  There was much joking back and forth.  I learned that I don't qualify as a true girl because I don't own enough pairs of shoes, and given the hypothetical option of choosing between paying the mortgage and buying new shoes, I opt for paying the mortgage.  It was a lot of fun, exploring Davis and there was much laughter.  As we walked down one path I happened to glance to my right and stopped walking.  I had to look again to make sure I'd actually seen what I thought I saw, a large art structure made up of dominoes. We left the path and headed over to take a closer look.  I lived in Davis for two years, and never new about the Dominoes.  I climbed up one of the Dominoes and decided I shouldn't climb over and down to the next one, so I climbed back down the way I came. 

(pictures courtesy of Davis Wiki)
We continued out walk and Joseph introduced me to another statue, this time of a dog riding a tricycle.  The dog's tongue was hanging out of the side of his mouth, and even though it was mostly dark, it appeared the dog had a smile on his face.

(Photo Courtesy of Davis Wiki)
There are apparently so many things to see in Davis that I have not yet explored.  I plan on having many more adventures in Davis in the future.

After I left Joseph's house I made my way over to the Gazebo where I visited for a while with Emily, Bridget, and Jolene.  It was fun.  I hadn't seen the girls for quite some time.  We talked about life, work, school, plans, the usual.  Jolene had just gotten a book from Border's about the 500 craziest crimes of all time, or maybe it was criminals.  It was interesting to hear some of the stories.  Some I knew well from hearing the news, like Columbine, Oklahoma City, and the like.  There was one about an Italian Opera singer which made us all laugh.  As it drew near 11 I decided that I better drive home before I got too tired.  I made it back home, but was very glad that I left when I did, as I was feeling very tired from all the days fun activities. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter, Garage Sales, and Pedicures

What a random assortment of topics according to the subject line of this post, but those are just a few of the fun activities I got to participate in this weekend.  I left work right on time on Friday, no six minute window advantage taken.  I headed directly to the theater on Greenback where my mom and sister were waiting in the theater already.  I called my sister after I parked and she met me at the front to give me my ticket, we got some popcorn, and went to go wait the additional 25 minutes before the show started.  They played a lot of previews, we munched on popcorn, and other goodies.  Then the movie started and there were lots of cheers.  I don't want to spoil the movie for those going to see it so I'll just say, I was not disappointed.  Lots of action, great special effects, and it stuck pretty well to the book.   I enjoyed it a lot and was glad that I got to spend the time with my Mom and Sister.  I got home, and checked some email, played with the kitty, and played word games.  I got a call from my neighbors next door with an invite for breakfast the next morning.  How fun, I was excited.....I love eating at new places.

I woke up earlier than I wanted but headed over to my friends to feed their animals and water their garden.  Then it was back home for some chores and then off for breakfast.  It was a little breakfast diner, with a model train running around the dining area.  We ordered and Jesse and I both opted for waffles with fresh strawberries.  Brandon ate his fruit, played with the straws, watched the train go by, dropped his utensils a few times, and was generally very cute.  Todd got chicken fried steak which looked amazing.  It was a pretty fun place to eat.  They even had a live clarinetist which was pretty cool.  We finished breakfast and headed back home and got sidetracked along the way.  It was garage sale time.  We drove around stopping at various garage sales along our route home.  I eyed several weed eaters but opted not to buy one at this time.  Todd and Jesse came home with some great items.  I entertained Brandon which was great fun.  Then we made it home and I opted for a short nap....sometimes Saturdays are just good nap days. :) 

I did some laundry after my nap then headed over to a nail salon with my good friend Alicia for pedicures.  I don't get them often but they sure are nice.....my toes are so pretty, and the foot massage was great.  After we headed over to the cheesecake factory for dinner.  The restaurant looked pretty crowded so we opted to go to California Pizza Kitchen instead.  We ordered a chipotle chicken pizza and a BBQ chicken salad to split.   Oh my taste buds and tummy were very very happy.  Then it was off toward home.  I remembered there was supposed to be a game night in Davis so I made arrangements to pick up my friend Nadia and we were going to have some fun.  Unfortunately game night got cancelled so Nadia and I took turns calling people to invite them to the cheap theater for a movie.  It ended up being just three of us, but it was still fun.  The movie Fast Five, was action packed, had some amazing cars, but I could have done without the language.  Why is it that screenwriters feel the need to use profanity.  ugh. It was nice to get home and go to bed.

Today has been pretty restful.  Picked veggies from the garden, loved the kitty, and taught my primary class.  Gotta love Sundays.  I ate corn from my garden today and it was some of the best corn I've ever had.  I think I'll have to plant more to see if I can get a late harvest too.  Next week I think I'll add in some genealogy and see what family members I can find.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 1 biking to work

The alarm went off at 530 this morning and I was sorely tempted to change the alarm to go off in another hour and go back to sleep.  I sat in bed weighing the options, going over a pro and con list (pretty impressive for someone still feeling half asleep), and decided that it was today or never.  I got out of bed, changed into the clothes I'd prepared last night, finished packing the backpack with the change of clothes for work, some snacks, and emergency bike repair stuff.  Then I headed out of the garage on my bicycle.  It was a bit chilly to start, and I began wishing I'd worn long pants instead of shorts.  I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled some more, all the time wondering if I was crazy for deciding to commute by bike.  As the wind rushed over my glasses, my eyes began to water, my arms were cold, and I knew I had to peddle faster to get the blood pumping before I froze. 

I made it to the first stop light (only about 1 mile away) and was mentally kicking myself for not having ridden more consistently in preparation last week.  I was going from zero riding to a 16.4 mile commute round trip.  Not one of my smartest moves.  Never the less I continued onward.  I made it to Cirby and was feeling pretty good.  I made it over the overpass over the freeway, and was starting to feel a little tired but kept pressing onward.  I continued up Cirby to Rocky Ridge, and wondered how sore I'd be at work sitting at my desk all day.  I passed the info sign by Maidu park and the library and read 59 degrees......at least by this time I'd ridden long enough to be warm.  I pedaled hard to make it up the hill to Douglas.  Stopped in a parking lot to add some air to the back tire, which made pedaling much nicer.  Saw a clock that read 630 and I realized that I was making great time, which would explain why I was feeling quite so tired....I'd been riding harder than my normal commute.  I pedaled the last couple miles up Douglas to the office building and went to freshen up for work. 

As the work day progressed I took lots of opportunities to get up and walk around the office in the hopes that my muscles wouldn't get too tight or sore. Things seemed to be going well, and as the work day came to a close I was feeling alright.  Then it was time for the commute home, which for the most part is downhill.  Nice, except for the fact that the wind was blowing against me most of the ride home.  (can't win).  I made it down douglas, rocky ridge, cirby, and headed toward the overpass again (the eastbound direction is so much steeper than the westbound), I pedaled hard, downshifted a lot, and finally gave in and walked the bike the last 1/3 to the top of the overpass.  Then I got back on and rode down.  I decided that I would try a new way home today to see if it might be faster.  Instead of going through the neighborhood, I went down Whyte all the way to Roseville Road and then headed toward Antelope.  The cars zip down Roseville Road at pretty fast pace, and it can be a bit unnerving.  At one point there was debris in the bike lane and I had to enter the traffic  lane briefly to go around the object.  (talk about risky business).  Luckily I was good and signaled the car behind that I'd be coming into the lane.  I think on any non-windy day Roseville Road might be the faster option, but because it is so open, and unprotected, unless lots of trains are parked on the tracks, the wind whips through like crazy.  I pedaled against some pretty strong wind all the way down Roseville Road.  i was getting a bit tired by this point and was very happy to see Antelope around the bend.  I travelled down Daly, then to Tupelo, then to home.  It was a good adventure.  I'm not sure how sore my legs will be in the morning.  I guess I'll have to wait till I wake up to find out for sure.  If I'm feeling good it will be biking again in the morning.  If I'm sore, then I'll wait a day and bike again on Wednesday.  My goal is to be able to bike every day.  It is a great way to spare the air, and an excellent source of exercise.  Here's to hoping I'm not sore in the morning :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Yesterday I picked up my mom  and we headed down to Pittsburg for my cousin's baby shower.  I was worried the traffic would be bad, but it didn't slow down much till we hit Antioch.  We arrived a bit after the start and were each handed a necklace and informed that we could not say the word baby or we'd lose it.  The house was packed with family and friends.  We even had family in town from Utah visiting so it was nice to catch up and see what they have been up too.  All the Benton siblings were present which due to distance and jobs doesn't often happen so we took some picture opportunities with the five of them together.  There were lots of other photo opportunities as well. There were great snacks, lots of good conversation, and lots of people really anxious to take those necklaces should the word baby escape someones lips.  I hadn't really intended on playing and was content with the one necklace but I just seemed to be around when people said the word.  Before I knew it I had a nice size collection.  The younger kids kept coming over in the hopes of tricking me into saying the word.  They brought a doll and asked what kind of doll it was (of course it was a baby), they tried to ask me what word it was we shouldn't say, they tried just about everything.  It was so cute.  My young cousin Chase was convinced that he was going to win and kept following me around asking if I'd said the "B" word yet.  :)  

Then it was time for my cousin to open her presents and I became scribe.  She got the cutest things for the baby.  I think the funniest gift was one that her husband and daughter were given.  When opened it revealed two sets of ear plugs.  Everyone laughed.  There were lots of cute clothes, blankets, and essentials.  Afterward my cousin brought out some cloth diaper wraps that she'd made.  They were super cute.  Water resistant on the outside, super soft flannel on the inside with leak guard elastic sewn in even.  She has got some talent with that sewing machine.  I'll have to see if I can snag a picture from somewhere to show you what I mean, she could easily sell them to others. 

More snacks, and lots of visiting later the necklace game finally ended and I got to bring home a beautiful little rose plant for my house.  It smells so nice.  It was getting late so we said our goodbyes, got hugs and promises of getting together again soon, and headed home.  It was really nice to visit with family and have such an enjoyable afternoon together.

Monday, June 27, 2011

BBQ, family, fun, and FHE

I've had the opportunity now to use my BBQ quite a few times which makes me very happy I made the investment.  I decided it would be fun to have some friends and family over on Saturday for a BBQ and a movie on the wall.  I did a bit of quick cleaning and my mom came over to keep me company.  Around lunchtime I got a call from my brother and sister that they were on their way and bringing lunch.  So I stopped and enjoyed a chipotle chicken sandwich from Subway.  Then it was a quick review of some scriptures for a talk on baptism for one of the kids in my class.  I got my things together and headed out the door, leaving my family to enjoy my home while I was gone.  The baptism was great, just like they all are, and I didn't stumble too much from nervousness in giving my talk.  After the baptism it was time to hit the grocery store to grab the essentials for the BBQ.  I grabbed some chips, burgers, hot dogs, and fruit then headed home. 

My brother and I played some rounds of horseshoes, as my sister and my bother's girlfriend and her daughter watched.  I managed to get one leaner but my brother got a ringer and won.  Then I decided I ought to put together the fruit salad as people would be coming soon.  With everything in place, I fired up the grill and started the burgers and hot dogs.  I didn't realize the patties I'd gotten were so fatty, the drippings sure made some good size flames but nothing out of control.  Everything cooked up well and I brought all the food in just as people started to show up.  It was an enjoyable meal.  After dinner my family left for other adventures and Marie, Laura, and Emily and I decided to watch Tangled on the wall.  It sure is pretty fun having a large screen movie on the wall.  The couches were moved to prime watching spots, and plenty of snacks were available to go around.  You've got to love a cheesy Disney flick. 

It was so fun to have people over.  The BBQ got another workout tonight.  The girls in my ward and I have been trying to get a Family Home Evening group together.  Often it is just the four of us, but this week we thought we would extend invitations to some friends to join us for a BBQ.  I got the grill all cleaned up, prepped a fruit salad to share, and waited for the friends to come.  By 7:30 the usual group was gathered and we reported back on those we thought might be coming or those we had heard back from that were unable to join us.  In the end it was the four musketeers.  We talked about the things we'd learned from Sacrament meeting yesterday, watched the spiritual crocodiles video on youtube, and then decided it was time to eat.  We grilled up our chosen items, chatted while it all cooked, then we came in and enjoyed the mini feast.  Grilled veggies, fruit salad, chips, grilled meat.  It was scrumptious and left my tummy feeling very full and happy.  We talked a bit more after dinner, chatted about what our next activity would be and wondered how we might be able to get more participants for our FHE group.  We decided we would just keep planning activities and extending invitations, and eventually people will start to come. 

Life is good!

Friday, June 24, 2011

fresh veggies

I picked some of the first squash from the garden over the last few days.  I am so excited to have fresh veggies.  I even got to share some with the neighbor.  Maybe I don't need a back lawn, I can just grow veggies.  :)  That would be amazing.  My corn is even starting to get some ears on it.  It makes me very happy to go out in the backyard every day and see the progress in the garden.  I feel so blessed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ARRH!!! Avast ye land lubbers

There is a a fun filled event that happens every year in Vallejo CA.  http://www.norcalpiratefestival.com/  I've been to the event before and walked around the different booths, heard the musicians, watched sword fights and enjoyed the show as the Aldebaran captained by Pirate Hayden Brown sailed by firing cannons at the British soldiers on shore.  This year I was privileged to be a pirate aboard the Aldebaran.  I drove down to Vallejo kind of early Saturday the 18th and met up with the pirates aboard the Aldebaran.  We waited patiently for the time to come to start heading out of the marina for the performance.  I was able to borrow some awesome pirate garb from my good friend Liz, and added a few things I'd picked up at the party store.  I'll share photos as soon as they are posted to facebook. 

We left the marina and the crew hoisted the sails.  I was given instructions for my job, I would be the guardian of the flame.  Basically I held the lighting pole while the guns were reloaded, and then handed the tool to Bob to light the cannon.  We had quite a good wind and so we had to make a couple passes without cannon fire before the allotted time came.  We came in close to the dock and opened fire.  I'm really glad that I had earplugs in cause the cannons both on the boat and those being fired in return from shore were loud.  We made many passes in the 30 minutes of the show.  I became very adept at crawling across the deck to change from starboard to port side as we sailed back and forth in our cannon battle.  Pirate Bob even let me light a few of the rounds. 

It was so much fun.  I was glad that I got to take part in the battle this year.  A little imagination, some black powder charges, and a most beautiful ship go a long way to make a fantastic pirate adventure and a Saturday that will be hard to forget. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yeah for great news

Back in April I was thinking hard about what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Yes I still think I'm in process of growing up.  I'd taken the GRE (graduate record examination), I was working on building fun skills like gardening and home remodeling, but what did I really want to do career wise.  That was the big question.  So I tossed ideas back and forth with some friends of mine.  I knew that Public Health sounded very interesting, especially focusing on epidemiology.  I checked out my options.  There were full time programs, part time programs, online programs, executive programs and the list goes on.  I knew that a full time program presented challenges in that I'd have to change jobs.  Purely online programs weren't that interesting to me.  I wasn't exactly sure what an executive program was.  I knew that I wanted to stick to schools that offered accredited Public Health programs.  That made the list shorter as many of the options available were not accredited. 

I looked at Davis, Berkeley, BYU, UCSF, and many others.  I wasn't sure how changing jobs and possible moves might work out with my life right now so I kept them on the list and looked at other options too.  I was surfing the internet one day and happened upon some information for Drexel University Center for Graduate Studies here in Sacramento.  I knew that Drexel University was on the list of accredited schools of Public Health.  I pulled up their website and found they offered an executive MPH program here in Sacramento, taught by professors both here in Sacramento and from the home campus in Philadelphia.  The information on the website intrigued me so I signed up for an informational session.  Time seemed to creep slowly by until the informational session a month away. 

Finally the day came and I convinced my friend to come with me to the session.  We drove out to the campus and I managed to park in the wrong garage, but we made it up to the meeting room on time.  We were given a short overview of Drexel, how the University came to be, and the vision for the center for graduate studies in Sacramento.  Then students from different masters programs came in to talk about their experiences.   The entire time I sat in the room during the presentation I felt calm yet very excited.  It felt as if I was in the right place.  After the general overview we broke into smaller groups to meet with someone from each specific program.  At the end of the evening I was ready to start getting my application ready.  I thought about who I could ask to write letters of recommendation, I thought about the transcripts that I'd have to get ordered, and then I thought, what in the world can I write for my personal statement. 

That night I filled out the online application and sent my requests for letters of recommendation.  I ordered what transcripts I could online, and printed request forms for the others.  Prior to going on vacation nearly a month later I finished up my resume, took an extra day off of work so I could gather the last of the transcripts needed and finally sat down to quit procrastinating writing my personal statement.  Brainstorming went well, I came upwith  lots of good ideas of examples to include, trouble was I couldn't get started, writers block.  So vacation came and went, then another weekend.  I knew I couldn't put it off any longer as I didn't want to risk the spots in the program filling up.  I sat down to write.  My mind tried to go a hundred directions at once and I was having trouble focusing on the task at hand.  I reworked my outline several times, I reviewed my resume for inspiration, I thought about my goals and plans.  Finally about 11:00PM inspiration came.  It always seems to work that way for me, inspiration at what seems the last minute.  I sat down and began writing, the ideas seemed to flow pretty well.  I typed, and typed, corrected, reworked, and finally decided that I should go to bed since it was 2AM and I still had to get a little shut eye before work. 

I took the laptop with me the next day and worked during my lunch to finish the essay.  After work I put the finishing touches on the essay and passed it to two coworkers for review.  They said it sounded good, then I passed it on to several good friends for review.  The next day, after some constructive input, I submitted the essay.  Then it was getting the last letter of recommendation in.  When I finally got the email that the letter had been submitted it was a waiting game.  I'd written down from the information session that they usually provide their admission decision within 2-3 weeks of receiving the completed application.  I checked my application status every day.  I knew it was silly and that I would need to have some patience, but I was so anxious, unsure, and excited, all at the same time.  My friend smiled every time I'd give her my daily update.  Other friends gave me their assurances that they felt I'd get it.  And I waited.  Luckily I only had to wait a few short days.  I woke up this morning and checked my admission status as normal, and it said they were pleased to offer me admission for the Fall term.  I jumped up and down, did a little happy dance, and then proceeded to email my friends and family to give them the good news.  I smiled so much today and am so excited to start my new adventure as a Drexel University Dragon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saturday fun

Saturdays I try and sleep in, but somehow the sunshine coming through the window, or the kitty thinking I'm late for work and meowing seem to wake me up bright and early.  So I got up and opened the blinds and admired the garden for a while until I felt more awake.  Then it was time to organize some tools and get some chores done before Sunday.  I put on pandora, listened to some motivational music and set to work.  About 11 I remembered I hadn't yet had breakfast so I stopped for some brunch.  I haven't had a brunch in a long time so it was kind of fun.  After brunch I figured it was time to heat up the grill to be able to clean it better, what I'm glad I did was set a timer to go check on it after just a few minutes.  The high heat caught the drippings on the floor of the grill on fire, there was smoke, I opened the lid and my eyes got really big (at least I'm pretty sure they must have been).  I acted quickly and cut off the propane supply, then turned off the burners, and quickly blew on the flames.  It took a minute to get it all extinguished.  I was so thankful that I set that timer and that things turned out well.  I now know not to turn burners on high when the grill needs cleaning.  Lesson learned!!!!!  Disaster averted, I decided that my garden was looking a bit thirsty so I went to work watering the plants. 

Then it was time to head to Davis for some picture taking at the Arboretum.  I met up with my friend Joseph and off we went.  We walked through the Australian plant section snapping pictures here and there.  At the end of the walk there was a large bunch of California poppies.  They were so pretty. 

After taking photos it was time to head to Dixon.  I went to DaAunt and DaUncle's house where DaAunt made some super yummy BLT sandwiches and potato salad.  DaUncle made jokes about the strawberries and shortcake not being around later if we didn't have some then.  I was way to full to eat any dessert.  DaAunt and I changed for a night at the theater and made our way to the Community Center Theater to watch Mary Poppins. I was pretty excited to see the show.  I was curious if it would mirror the movie or if it would be different.   
We drove into Sacramento and started making the rounds looking for parking, quite the search on a Saturday night.  I was hoping we could find a relatively close spot by the theater so we wouldn't have to walk to far when the show was over late.  We found a spot on N street between 12th and 13th....it wasn't a bad walk.  We left Dixon with plenty of time just in case we hit traffic or other snafoos.  So we got to the theater and went inside and waited until they let us in to be seated.  We chatted, watched all the people coming in, and I checked on the performance dates for Wicked coming to town next year.  Then the doors were opened and we went to find our seats.  There were some anxious moments as people filed in and I waited and watched to see how tall the person would be that would sit in front of me.  It became a guessing game with DaAunt and I as we watched people make their way down the row in front of us.  I got lucky and someone of a shorter stature sat in front of me. 

I befriended the group to our right as I started a conversation to pass the time till the curtain would go up.  I wanted to find out if this was their first play or if they came often.  Mary Poppins was one of many plays they had seen at the community center theater.  The gentleman also recommended that I check out the Music Circus performances.  I love the theater and the chance to get some culture into my everyday life.  The announcer came on reminding everyone to silence their cell phones and the lights began to flash out in the hallway.  I knew that it would be only a little longer and the play would start. 

The house lights went dim, the pit came alive and the curtain rose.  It was so much fun.  The actors and actresses were delightful and gave energetic  performances.  The sets were amazing, the music fun.  I want to learn the dance and hand motion for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as it is so entertaining.  Some parts of the play were similar to the movie but there was a great new twist to the story and it was well worth going. I'd blog more but I don't want to ruin anything for anyone thinking of going.   I was so glad that my Aunt and I got to share that activity.  We talked about the play all the way back to the car.  We had great conversations on the way back to Dixon, and when I got out to give my Aunt a hug goodnight, we both laughed as we thought about how our dreams would be full of Disney magic.  The drive home was nice and I was glad that sleepiness didn't kick in until I was very close to being home.  I greeted kitty then headed straight for bed.  It was a wonderful Saturday and oh so much fun.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fun evening

I called my friend Liz today and said let's get together and have some dinner and maybe watch a movie or play.  She said sure.  So Liz came with baby Ashlynn.  While Liz got Ashlynn out of her carseat, I showed Liz how high kitty could jump after toys.  It was impressive.  Then I got to hold Ashlynn while Liz played with the kitty.  I made faces at the baby, watched her smile, and then handed her off to mom so I could turn my attention to defrosting the chicken for cooking on the BBQ.  I am so glad I got the BBQ.  Liz helped put the salad together with carrots and cucumber fresh from the garden and with other yummy store bought veggies.  I picked the first zucchini from the garden and sliced it up for grilling.  It was so fun to have Liz and Ashlynn over.  Dinner turned out very tasty and filling.   After dinner I showed Liz some of the recent photos I've taken, and we chatted about life and the fun activities we've got coming up. Baby fell asleep and Liz and I admired how cute she looked even while sleeping.  Spending time with friends is the best way to wrap up a busy week. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

mission impossible: getting the nephews to sit for family photos

So I volunteered to take some family photos for my good friend and her family.  My nephews were among the group to be photographed and I knew it could be interesting.  I got to the Smith home and mom was getting kids ready, dad was learning to tie bowties by watching youtube, and the kids really wanted to just watch the cartoons playing on the computer.  My attempts at tying the bowtie was a miserable failure so I left that to dad and got the camera ready.  After everyone was dressed in their nice clothes it was out to the yard to find a spot for some photos.  First stop the trampoline.  I suppose that some people take the trampoline to be a casual sport, but wait to you see the shots of the boys in their tuxedos jumping......so darn cute.

Then it was time for the group and individual shots

I'm so happy to have the Smith's as good friends.  They are awesome, and I love having nephews to spoil!


So a couple of months ago my cousin called and said "our family will be heading to Tahoe, and we'd like to invite you to join us for a day or two and then maybe you could take the kids back home while we stick around another day or two.  Think about it and let me know."  So I thought about it and said sure.

Thursday the older kids were dropped off at my house by Da Aunt and Da Uncle, who got a quick tour of the garden, then it was off to Costco to gas up the car and head up Highway 50 toward Tahoe.  Traffic wasn't too bad and we made good time......I'd never been up highway 50 to Tahoe before.....I've only ever gone as far as Apple Hill.  I wondered if we were going to reach the snow line and about 7K feet plus or minus some, we hit it.  The boys were pretty good company on the trip there, and Benton was playing the navigator and we got to where my cousins were staying just fine.  We parked and met up with the family.

We went to a great buffet dinner at Harrah's and enjoyed a lot of good food.  The view from the dining area was nice.  The kids got some time in at the arcade, then it was off to sleep in preparation for the next days activities. 

I admit, I enjoy vacations mostly because I can sleep in, which I did.  Everyone else was up but I wasn't ready to get out of bed.  Eventually I made my way out to the living room and participated in the plans for the day.  Hiking was the first order of the day.  We drove up to Eagle Falls where we enjoyed much hiking, including up to the snow line, which we found out later was out of bounds. 

We are way up there if you look close

After some hiking we broke for lunch and entertained ourselves watching some jays in the trees.

Then we moved down the road to the Emerald Bay so we could take some more pictures and hike some more.  The hike down was pretty enjoyable....downhill all the way.  The hike up, took a little longer but was well worth it. The viking style house was great, the falls were gorgeous, and the fun along the journey excellent.

After we were tuckered out from hiking back up the hill, it was time for some minigolf.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel for some dinner.  After dinner we packed up the car and I headed back down the hill with the kiddos.  We made pretty good time and everyone went straight to bed tuckered from the days activities and the long drive.

Saturday was a quiet morning.  My attempt to sleep in didn't work, the light streaming in through the window woke me up, but I took advantage of the quiet time to read some of the talks from the last conference.  Chase was the first one up, we had some breakfast, then Leah, then the boys.  They got a kick out of eating cereal with chocolate almond milk which was all we had at the time.  Then I took the littles on a trip to costco where we enjoyed all the tasty samples and I checked out new cell phone options.  Then I decided that the kids might enjoy a movie so plans were made to head to Davis for Kung Fu Panda 2.  First I pulled up to the wrong theater so we had to quickly make our way to the other one.  Then my skills at parallel parking were tested as I tried to park the minivan (a bigger car than my small compact), so I made the boys get out to make sure I didn't hit anything.  We made it to the ticket line, which was longer than I expected.  We got our tickets and entered the theater and the only seats left were the very front row.   Talk about a new perspective when watching a movie.  The kids enjoyed the movie a lot, there was laughter and they kept quoting it on the way home. 

We made a quick stop at Papa and Grammi's house to drop off one kid for a youth dance, and then we grabbed some tacos for dinner and getting the kids to bed.  I was a good cousin (parental figure for the day) and waited till the oldest got back from the dance before I went to bed.  I awoke bright and early Sunday morning to get the little ones bathed and ready for church.  I woke the boys about an hour before we had to leave, and we got everyone into the car and headed to church.  Little did I know it doesn't take that long to cross Woodland on a Sunday morning and we ended up at the church building half an hour before church started.  The kids were laughing about it and giving me some guff, but hey, I was glad we got there on time.  My cousins recently started attending the Spanish branch and it was fun to listen to all the meetings in Spanish.  Then it was home where we had sandwiches for lunch.  We had story time, a walk, some quiet time, and then popcorn and games.  It was a great weekend.