Monday, February 25, 2008

Thawing out in Florida

Loads of snow in Idaho and photos of Baby Owen in Florida got us thinking that maybe a trip to Florida to visit Tori, Ryan and Owen (with the excuse that we needed to thaw out) might not be such a bad idea. Lucky for us, we have a very kind and supportive husband/father who had several frequent flyer miles and hotel points that he was willing to share with us. Voila', our escape to Florida was born! Jim scheduled the trip for a week he'd be out of town (so he wouldn't miss us so much). Before we knew it, Sariah and I were flying to Tampa!

Our stopover in Chicago was an adventure! Our flight to Tampa was delayed an hour. Meanwhile, the airport kept changing the gate our flight was to depart from. We got a bit frazzled as we ran back and forth between gates trying to figure out which was the correct one.

We finally arrived in Tampa at midnight. Bleary eyed, we called our hotel from the courtesy phone to request a shuttle to come and pick us up. I was embarrassed (but relieved) to learn that the hotel was right there, connected to the airport. All we had to do was retrace our steps back up to the third floor and take a few more steps to the hotel lobby. We slept in luxury!

Tori and Baby Owen picked us up at the hotel the next morning and, while we were waiting for the arrival of Elly and little Maggie, gave us a mini tour of Tampa including Channelside and the Florida Aquarium. I was really impressed that Tori only got lost a couple of times. Downtown Tampa was a traffic-filled maze!

We loved the acquarium! Owen didn't share our enthusiasm. It may have something to do with the fact that he is only four months old. He was a good sport, though, and so-oo cute!

We couldn't resist a few shots of Sariah in action.

She even touched the stingrays!

After collecting Elly and Maggie, the drive to Gainesville took forever. The traffic was heavy and crawling at a snail's pace. Thank goodness, we had a good escort--Tori. Maggie kept us entertained with her chatter. Dinner at Wendy's provided a welcome break. We finally made it to Gainesville in one piece, albeit exhausted. After a brief respite at Tori's house, Elly, Maggie, Sariah and I settled into our tiny hotel room. Maggie had to watch some "carcoons" before turning in, a nightly ritual while we were there.

We had lots of adventures over the next couple of days. I must admit that the weather wasn't quite as wonderful as anticipated but it was certainly warmer than what we had been used to! We couldn't complain. We just enjoyed having the chance to be together. Even the rain at the beach at Anastasia State Park couldn't dampen our spirits. We soaked up the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean while watching Maggie play in the water and build a sand castle. Maggie was thoroughly enthralled, until she "fell off the water" and got soaked to the skin. Luckily, her mom had brought a change of clothes. Maggie was ready to go anywhere but back to the beach.

We drove through St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the USA. It's a fascinating place. We were frustrated by the fact that we didn't have the time to explore it's historic buildings and museums. Maybe next time?

Another day, we explored the Gainesville mall and bought some jewelry. Maggie loved the jewelry store and thought the playground was great fun.

We all got pedicures, even Maggie!

Some of us went on a hike through the woods and saw some stunning azaleas. As evidenced by the lack of photos, I had left the camera behind.

We had a great time laughing, talking, eating, not sleeping much, and enjoying the little ones. I even got to give Owen a bath! It was the perfect vacation....

...until the drive to the Tampa airport. It took us three hours to make the two hour drive. We drove past 8 wrecked cars in stop-and-go traffic through pouring rain. We concurred that the next time we come to Gainesville, it won't be through the Tampa airport.

Believe it or not...

...spring must be around the corner. Look what I discovered in my poor brown garden last week--little yellow crocus blooms! Can you see them? I noticed the purple ones pushing up beside them today. What a welcome sight! Especially after this very cold and snowy winter.

Missionary Preparations and Supportive Friends

Sariah has been busy preparing for her mission. There has been a lot to do including doctor's appointments, vaccinations, shopping, reading, interviews, etc. We've enjoyed having the chance to spend a little extra time with her during this preparation. The highlight was getting to take her to the temple for her first time and then being able to return to do another session a few days later. She and I have also spent a lot of time shopping for clothes--definitely an interesting and challenging experience. Missionary clothes need to be a lot more conservative than most clothes in Sariah's size found on the racks. I am pleased to announce that we have actually had some success--finally!

As part of the preparation, Sariah spoke in church on February 17. She was well prepared and gave a really good talk. Among those that were there to witness the event, were six of her friends from school whom we'd had the privilege of hosting in our home. They were polite and well-mannered. They appreciated my cooking and, best of all, they did all the dishes!

They also provided quite a bit of entertainiment.

We enjoyed having them and hope they come back to visit again someday.

Sariah's got one more week to finish her preparations. We hope we find that red cardigan and a raincoat that fits! Soon she'll be entering the Missionary Training Center. How the time has flown!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Roseville Adventure

The trip to Roseville, California was all that I'd hoped it would be--warmer days, sunshine, relaxation, discovery and time with Jim! It was surprisingly windy but I couldn't complain. The first day I went shopping. That's the female thing to do after all. I've never seen so many stores in one place! The second day I explored the city. I discovered the Sculpture Park. This large sculpture named "Cosmos" dominates the park.
The rest of the sculptures (by the winners of the annual sculpture contest for school children) are displayed as seen below.
The Sculpture Park is the trailhead for the Miners Ravine bike trail. I hiked on the trail alongside a meandering river for a couple of miles and soaked up the peace and beauty surrounding me. Only because of occasional glimpses of restaurants, hotels and traffic (even the freeway) was I reminded that I was in the middle of a busy city.

I was surprised to see an abundance of blackberry bushes!

Next I visited the Maidu Interpretive Center dedicated to the Nisenan (southern Maidu) Indians that had settled the area thousands of years ago. There was a museum with exhibits portraying the Maidu Indian way of life. I was especially fascinated by the loop trail that took me past ancient petroglyphs (5,000 to 8,000 years old)....

...and hundreds of holes in bedrock which the Indian women had worn grinding acorns.
Surrounded by oak trees, a stream, meadows and a pond, it really wasn't too hard to envision the place as it may have looked when the Indians were living there so many years ago.

On my last day, I visited Folsom Lake which is located a few miles east of Roseville. I parked at the visitors center and hiked the 1 mile bike trail to the lake. I passed palm trees, evergreens and a picnic area lush with foilage. I was struck by the beauty.

Consequently, it was quite a surprise to discover an almost empty lake bed at the end of my journey. Not much entertainment here!

I returned to Roseville and found myself in the old part of town. I was impressed with the clean and well-renovated former downtown area.

I love exploring new places! The best part of this trip, though, was getting to spend some time with Jim.:)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why am I so sore?

My wrist hurts, my elbows creak, my shoulder aches. I feel like I'm falling apart! I'm trying to decide if it's because of my dedicated exercising over the past few weeks, the two-weeks-in-a-row of skiing, the snow-shoveling project while Jim was out-of-town (that snow was wet and very heavy), or the fact that I'm just getting old. Maybe it's a combination of all of the above? I'm hoping to recuperate on the trip to California this week. Jim left to attend meetings in Roseville today. I'll be flying out to join him in a couple of days. I am really looking forward to strolls in the sunshine, temperatures in the 60s, sleeping in, eating out, with lots of time to read and explore. Californi here I come!

Monday, February 4, 2008

I Feel Loved!

Jim brought home these beautiful flowers, for me. It's not even Valentine's Day! Actually, he does it quite often because he knows how much I love it. I'm a lucky girl to have a husband who takes the time to do nice things for me. I feel loved and very much appreciated. Thanks, Jim!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sariah's Birthday

We finally got to celebrate Sariah's 21st birthday this week. She was visiting friends in Utah on her birthday (a generous birthday present from Dad). We'd like to think that it was because of the snowstorms that her visit was extended a couple of days. Needless to say, we were very happy to have her home safe and sound. The celebration was rather spur of the moment and, I guess, quite typical.

We had the traditional birthday march and presented her with her one beautifully wrapped gift. She was "surprised" to get just what she wanted.

Unfortunately, her cake was kind of plain but that was just because it was too hot for the frosting. It's hard to believe that as a child, I loved to decorate cakes. I think that all changed when I became a dietitian. :) The candles? We gave her all we could find. For some reason, I have a hard time keeping a years supply on hand. Sariah didn't complain about the candles, though, as she could easily blow them all out and have her wish come true. She did get a hardy rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" from her parents. Cami was too sick to talk let along sing. We hope Sariah knows that we love her a million bunches!

The weather outside is frightful...

We've had more snow this past month than in the previous nine years put together! I am tempted to hibernate. In fact, one day this past week I declared that I was snowed in and refused to drive anywhere. Everyone reminded me that my car has four wheel drive and snow tires. And that, in case I hadn't noticed, the roads were clear. I pointed to all the snow in the backyard and said, "It looks like we're snowed in from here." I enjoyed my day of hibernation.

I must admit that the snow looks beautiful (as you can see from the photos of the back and front yards) and there are benefits. The schools were closed one day this past week. Cami, who was sick with the flu, was grateful that she would be missing one less day of school. The skiing at Bogus has been great. Jim goes skiing every chance he gets (and dreams of it every time he can't). I've tagged along a couple of times and, although I rarely stray far from the beginner hill, usually enjoy myself. I was encouraged this week when told by a stranger that I have good form!:) We get lots of warm toasty fires in the fireplace. For some reason they are particularly appealing on cold snowy nights. Last but not least, we'll all be happy with the abundance of water that we'll have for our lawn and garden this summer. Dare I say that that is something I'm really looking forward to--summer that is.