Sunday, January 25, 2015


 Jill made personalized  tattoos and now Rosy doesn't feel fully dressed without one.

 Just in case you weren't  sure, that is,  in fact, Opa's face on Daisy's belly.  It is important to put these on their bellies in order to make it possible for them to lift up their  shirts and  display them  to anyone including  strangers that are  willing to peek.     Having a tattoo like this on your child is a perfect ice breaker with other parents  at school, especially if you want them to assume  that you are a  weirdo.
In less happy news,  the Oregon Ducks lost the championship game.

 The food  was good though.  And  we still, of course,  love our Ducks.
Daisy couldn't  care  less about the game  because she was kickin' it  with her  old buddy Samantha  who had just given  her  this adorable handmaid  doll.   The original plan was  to send  them  to some poor kids in Africa  but somehow those  big eyes of hers convinced the doll maker that they would  be better  placed in  the  hands of  an already spoiled middle  child.  Samantha was  right  though.  Daisy has already almost loved  the stuffing out of  that thing. 

Rocky isn't represented in a photo here  because she was out in the hall  with the older girls talking about teenagery things.

Bonus Story:
This morning when Rocky finally rolled out of bed Daisy was already eating breakfast.  Rocky said, "Hey Daze, I catched some z's last night."
She paused in a way that made it  clear  she had been rehearsing this line all night and into the morning.  Daisy for her part was nonplussed.  
"What are z's?"
Sorry Rocky.  Wrong audience.

Bandon with the Church Ladies

 This weekend we had a Relief Society retreat in Bandon and it was incredibly fun.   The weather  was  gorgeous,  the company was  delightful and  I couldn't have had  a more refreshing  and  fun time running away from home for a couple of days.


Brandon had a conference to attend in Vancouver so the rest of us tagged along.  While he was presenting papers and listening  to lectures we were able to do a little bit of exploring.   The verdict:  Vancouver is  beautiful.
I am still not sure about how fun it is to drag my kids around but they were pretty interested in it all.   
Our first stop was a  lucky one.  My good friend Abbey took us to her brother's studio.   He is the man behind  the new Nickelodeon show Blaze and the Monster Machines.  He usually lives  in New York but happened to be in Vancouver the same time we were and he let us watch them work  on  the final  sound  editing for an  episode that  will be airing next year.  Everyone was extremely nice to us and made the kids feel  like honored guests. 

I had no idea how intensely examined sound effects are.   This crew spent 20 minutes analyzing the sounds of crashing rocks.  At the end of the episode there are four wooly mammoth monster trucks and Jeff christened them after the girls.  Now they will forever be known as Rocky, Daisy, Rosy and Penelope.

Anyone who has tried to travel with children probably won't be surprised that  the most  exciting part of the whole trip for them is the hotel.   We stayed at La Quinta and we made good use of the towels, the pool, and the free breakfast.  
We  spent more time than I would like to  admit in the room watching  cartoons.   At one  point while watching  LaLa Loopsy I heard Rocky say, "Eww, there are boys in this show?" I  asked  her what is wrong  with boys and she said, "No mom, I said, oooh, there are boys in this show!" I stood  corrected. 

Brandon presented two papers.    One was about a  self-translating Puerto Rican poet named Uruayan  Noel.  The second was on an old version of Spanish called  Ladino that was preserved  when  the Sefardic Jews  were exiled.  He worked hard preparing his presentations.  I didn't get to  hear them  but I can say that he sure  did look good when  he headed in.

While he was hobnobbing with the academic crowd Abbey and  I were herding the kids through the city.   We took this little boat across the bay chasing after the promise of the "city's cultural and artistic heart" and the Kid Market which was sure  to be a hit with the little ones.  What we found  instead was a tourist  trap.  It was as charming as could be minus the fact that the indoor playground  (imagine what you might  find in a McDonald's) cost $10 a kid.   We opted to skip out and grab some food instead. 

I was worried that they would be disappointed but riding in the tiny boat was basically the highlight of their lives.

Our hotel was solidly located in Chinatown.  We went to the mall one night to  look  around and it  was easy to imagine that we were  actually in China.  Rocky kept thinking  that every store or business was  a  restaurant because every sign  had  Chinese characters on it.    We ate in a Vietnamese  place  across  the road.  The people  there didn't speak any English.  We ordered by pointing at  pictures on  the menu and they brought us dishes  and dishes of food.   We weren't exactly sure what was supposed to be served together but  we ate it all in our own way.   It was delicious.

Rosy the little queen  bee  would  hardly even put her big toe in the pool because it was  too cold for her liking.  The only exception was when her dad pulled her in. 
She  preferred the 'hot pool' which had a temperature more to her taste.
We loved Queen Elizabeth Park and spent a refreshing morning exploring  the trails.

Say Cheese!  This is my favorite statue ever.
On the way home from the park we dropped Brandon  off  at the conference.   Of course the road that I had planned  to take back to our hotel was  closed and I ended up lost.  I had a map that got me through  Vancouver but once I got to Richmond we were off the grid.  We drove around long enough for Rosy to be crying,  Daisy to have to use the potty and  for me to have a migraine brewing.  I finally decided that it was enough and that I would stop at the next inexpensive eating establishment  that we came across.   Of course it was  McDonald's.  I marched those kids in and bought  them Happy Meals.  Once again  I berated myself for not stopping in a  local place but I shouldn't have worried.   My girls have never had their own Happy Meals and they thought they had won  the  jackpot.  Of course since it was Canada inexpensive ended up being  not  exactly correct.  I asked three people for directions.  They all pointed me to a kid who looked like he was 15 and  was  apparently the only person  in the establishment that could understand me, but like any 15-year-old that I know, he had no idea how to tell me where we were.   I drank enough caffeine to kill 5 migraines and we magically found our way back to the hotel.  Rocky thought the whole thing was delightful and thanked me over  and over.   The moral of this story is that as I get older my sense of direction just gets worse.

What would a trip to Canada be  without sampling some Poutine.  
We finished off the trip in Stanley Park.
Of course we spent some quality time walking the Sea Wall.

We returned home with the most important of  souvenirs.  I feel a little less cool admitting that we bought them  at Target.  At least it was a Canadian Target which, if news reports are correct, will soon be extinct.   Even if we didn't buy them in a more exotic locale they still tasted great.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

More Christmas

Christmas Eve held all of its normal  charm.  We spent  the morning at the Jolley Family Breakfast and then hung out at the Rigby's all afternoon.  Of course we stuffed ourselves on Pizza Hut pizza as per tradition.  Then it was back to Oma's to read the Night Before Christmas and the story from the Bible. 

 They were as thrilled with it as we used to be as kids.   I remember thinking that it took hours to read Luke 2 and now as an adult I am surprised to realize it is only a few minutes.  Rocky said the prayer, "Please  bless that the night is short so that it can be Christmas soon."  And then it was time for bed.

The girls fell  asleep  almost immediately but I couldn't.   I was  too excited.
A Side Story: For a couple of years  Rocky has been begging for a Vitamix.  You may have never heard of this appliance but it is an extremely powerful blender.   They are sold  at Costco and often the  company will send  in a salesperson to do demonstrations in  the  store.  This guy names Patrick was stationed at our store in Eugene.  I will admit that he was a  great salesman, and quite charming.  Rocky would beg to be able to watch the demonstration  and  would have stood there all day if I had let  her.  Instead of giving her the  usual tiny sample  cup he would give her a big red solo cup  of whatever  he made.  He let her choose the next recipe and decide what kind of fruit to put in  the smoothies.   At first I thought that she just had a crush on him but one day when we  came home  she  told her dad, "I think I am in love....with the Vitamix."  The obsession only grew  worse when the company sponsored her favorite cooking show, "The Jazzy Vegetarian."  In November when I asked the girls what they wanted for Christmas and she said Vitamix I flat out told her no.  It is a powerful blender, which really means that it is an expensive blender.    Brandon asked Rocky, who is 6, what  she would do with a Vitamix this is what she said, "I am glad  you asked.   You can make  soup.  You can make smoothies.  You can make everything."   Part of me thinks  that she has a chance at stealing Patrick's job one day.
When we took her to see Santa and she asked for the Vitamix he was totally taken aback.  It is true that she is the first 6-year-old to have asked for that particular gift.  I told her that Santa doesn't make blenders and she took it well.   "It doesn't hurt anything to ask."
Of course you know where this is going.  Due to an incredible sale and small Christmas miracle we were able to buy one.   Rosy helped me  pick the one with the red body.   It hid in our house for a week  despite the fact that her  baby sister kept saying to Rocky, "We hid the Vitamix."  Lucky for me Rosy says all kinds of  nonsense all  day long so nobody even listened.  The blender was the thing that kept me  up on Christmas Eve.   

They girls woke around 7 to a  miraculously snowy morning.  We all curled up on Oma's bed and snuggled up to watch the Christmas Story movie on TV and  wait for the breakfast  casserole to heat  up. 
 I made them  wait almost an hour because it was just so sweet.    Finally after we ate it was time to check out the stockings.  
This year each girl got a little art kit and then there was a big surprise.

 There was one  big package left and inside was  Rocky's dream gift.  I didn't get any pictures but Jill  took a  video.  I did take a picture of them  watching the video.  Rocky was so excited  that after the initial surprise she turned pale and had to sit down for a few minutes.   I  feel  a little bit bad that  at  6 years old  she has hit the best Christmas morning of her life.  It is all downhill from here. 

I failed to mention that Daisy also received her heart's desire.   She wanted a  hand-held lime squeezer.  We found her gift at Dollar General.  Both girls were equally thrilled.
 Once everyone recovered  from  all the joyousness  we  headed outside  to get  some snow time.

 It took longer to get all bundled  up than they actually played, but it made  for some cute photos.

And after you freeze your buns off in the snow it might seem like a good idea to heat up some  hot chocolate, but Rocky had other plans.   Nothing at that moment would be better refreshment than a  frozen pineapple smoothie made in your brand new Vitamix.

And from that high point we went down a long, vomit-filled,  fever-wracked week that I don't really feel like  remembering.

All in all though it was a lovely trip.  The holiday was filled  with parties, food, friends and family  that I  didn't  bother to photograph.  We had  so much fun, in fact, that I cried all the way to Idaho on our way home.  It  isn't that I don't love Eugene.  I would live here forever if I could, but it is just  such fun  to be with family.   If I could only get  all the people I love to move here, now that  would  be perfect.