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.  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 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 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.