Friday, July 31, 2009

Speaking in Santa Barbara

Jeff's been invited to speak a number of times over the last few years so when we can we try and make it fun for the family when possible. This last Monday Jeff was invited to speak for the Central Coast New York Life office. We decided to hitch a ride with him and make a weekend out of it. Unfortunately I didn't bring the battery charger for the camera so we only got pictures of 1/2 the trip.

While we were there we hung out at the beach with Jeff which was a first for the summer. Though we were only there for 45 minutes. The water was cold, there was lots of kelp and the sand was a little more like mud. After spending 4 hours in traffic to get there we came back across the the street to enjoy our room a little bit.

The managing partner that invited us out was so sweet she took us to dinner one of the nights on a nice restaurant on the pier and sent over a basket of pool toys and snacks that were kid friendly. (At first I thought the hotel had provided it and I wondered how they knew we had 3 kids). I thought she was very nice and went out of her way to help us feel comfortable.

The first night we met up with my sister Angela and her husband Robert for dinner. We went to a great Italian place in the middle of downtown. All the food was served family style and everything was excellent. Our family enjoyed tasting Italian sodas for the first time.

While we were walking back to our car we were checking out the statues that were all along the street.

Ashley thought that this one of a grandpa and a grandaughter looked real. (Notice Jacob picking his nose)

Our favorite was the whale tail bench.

While we were in Santa Barbara we also rented a boat for an hour with my Sister and her husband to check out the area. We checked out abandoned boats that were moored offshore that were now seal and bird safe havens. It didn't look like anyone was interested in what was happend to their boats, and if they were once they saw how dirty they had become I'm sure they wouldn't be interested in them any more :).

We also took a trip to the aquarium that was out on the pier. There was a section that was open to the ocean and one of the volunteers would pull up a net from the bottom of the ocean and pick out crabs to show us.

We loved the decorator crabs that pull little bits and pieces from whatever it's next to. They put some fake pink hair next to one of the crabs and sure enough he covered himself in pink hair ;)

Monday morning I was excited to get up and jog along the beach. It was very foggy but it was nice and cool. I loved it! It amazed me to see people on the treadmill in the fitness center running to nowhere when the beach was across the street.

While Jeff was speaking I took the kids across the street to eat a yummy breakfast including banana pancakes. The kids wanted to go to the pool after. It still wasn't sunny yet and the pool was too cold to entice me to want to get in so I just watched them. I ended up wrapping a towel around me while watching them. Brrrr. I was glad that the two days before were nice at least.

We drove home that afternoon in only a little over 2 hours. (What a difference traffic makes).

The next day we started preparing for Jeff's speaking assignment at girls camp. He does the speaking...I do the posters and handouts. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Target Trip

So I don't know about anyone else but I have to say that doing errands and shopping tends to take a life of it's own when you are carting all of your children with you.

I had intentions of doing a little school shopping today. Not wanting everything that I buy to end up untouched at the bottom of the drawer (to join the other things I have bought recently without my children's approval) I decided to bring them along.

On the upside I was saved from purchasing more than one item that my children declared they would never wear or use but on the downside I ended up purchasing more snacks, dollar items and miscellaneous things that I never planned on.

3 hours into our "errands" the kids are hopped up on fast food and icees and passing the time by annoying each other. I am pushing my cart through Target with a 13 year old sitting in the bottom with his feet hanging out trying to see how many times he can get Ashley to yell TAAAAAYYYYYLLLLOOOORRRRR! Jacob is running through the aisles and under the clothes with Taylor's stolen shoe that he keeps hiding all while I am trying to speed search through the clearance racks to see if there is anything worth considering to buy. This was following a very loud cat and mouse chase game starring my two boys through the shoe section ending with Jacob falling on the ground in front of the stocking woman. I swore we were going to get kicked out of the store so I abandoned my attempt at shopping and made a beeline to the checkout to save everyone else from our ruckus.

As we were walking out of the store we saw a very serious situation! We realized something was wrong when we saw Target employees bunched at the exit. Half of the exit doors were being blocked and a male employee stood in front of us with his arms outstretched and escorted us around the commotion. Other employees were surrounding the scene and scrambling to action. Of course I was curious and had to see what all the fuss was about. A poor women was injured and all these nice employees wer trying to help her. Someone had the forsight to bring a chair to the women who was sitting in the exit doors so she wouldn't have to move from the scene. Some employees were directing traffic around her, others were looking at her injury and others were writing down her statement of what happend to cause her injury. We were relieved that a fire truck was called to help this poor injured woman. As we were loading up in our car a group of nice firemen were running at full speed into the store to come to her rescue.

So what happened to her you ask???? She hurt her big toe!!!! I guess she was walking out of the store and hit her toe on the door. (as far as I can tranlate Spanish correctly) Despite the fact that she was only wearing flip flops I'm sure Target is responsible some how!

I'm so glad our tax payer dollars are being spent worthy causes such as running to the rescue of someone with a toe injury since it would be much to much to ask them to walk to their car and get themselves to a doctor.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sweating in Arizona

So this summer all our vacations are tagging along with Jeff to his conferences, conventions and speaking engagements. We hang out while Jeff's in meetings. Not so fun for Jeff but the kids have had fun. Jeff was invited to a top producers meeting in Arizona this week and so we packed up early on Wednesday to drive out to Arizona. We left about 7:00am and were there by 12:00 so it wasn't bad at all. We got to the Arizona Biltmore and were given boxed lunches and shown to our room and then Jeff was off to meetings. This trip we paid to be able to eat with Jeff. I've enjoyed hanging out with him but I have to admit some meals have been so exotic that my kids had a hard time finding anything they like to eat. I gave up after the first meal and allowed the boys their video games at dinner (so we could sit there longer than 10 minutes and talk)

Overall though it's been nice to hang out at the pools, enjoy the water slide (I owe Ashley and Jacob $2.00 each for being brave enough to try it) and relax. Once the kids discovered the water slide I could barely get them off of it. We are the only New York life family here. There are other wives but no other kids but we've met other families from Boston and even Belgium.

One effect of all this swimming, sun and heat has had on the kids it has made them sleepy. Yesterday we had to get up early to catch breakfast with Jeff after having a late night before. We were at the pool by 8:00 in the morning so they were tired out by lunch. After lunch we were back at the room and I told the kids before we went back out to the pool we would turn off the TV and video games and read for 1/2 hour (our goal during the summer). Well they turned off everything and all of them ended up taking a nap at the same time. They have never done this in their whole lives! They slept for a couple of hours but then I had to wake them up so the guy could clean our room. Before they had gone to sleep all they wanted to do was go back to the pool but when I woke them up they didn't want anything to do with swimming. They told me "Go SWIMMING?! We don't want to go swimming! We've been swimming 3 times in the past two days!!" OK never mind, I said...we'll just find somewhere to hang out so they can clean the room.

We went to the front desk and asked about the kids game room that I kept seeing all over the schedules. The concierge kept trying to talk up the kids corral (which was paid babysitting) and even suggested sitting in the lobby and waiting for our room to be cleaned but I said I would just hang out with them at the game room. When we got there I realized why he wasn't so enthused with it. For one thing there was NOBODY there. That should have given me a hint, there was 3 coloring books, two puzzles, some construction paper, a small box of baby toys and blocks, a TV with a VHS player that wouldn't turn on, an air hockey table with a cut cord (so no air), two nice ping pong tables but only one squished ping pong ball. The only thing that actually worked and you could play was the foozeball table. The kids were done with that quick. We played what we could trying to pass time. We discovered this kiddy foam floor puzzle could be used to enclose siblings in. After wasting as much time as possible the kids decided now that all they wanted to do was swim. Crazy kids!

So we went back to the hotel room to change into swim stuff and swim for about 45 minutes before it was time to get ready for dinner.

Tonight was bowling night. We rode over on the bus to a bowling alley where there was plenty of good food and plans to bowl. The kids decided they didn't want to bowl so instead they watched and then the boys ended up in the arcade (along with Jeff who I had to go hunt down every time it was his turn).

When we got back the kids were wide awake (because of their nap) and Jeff was exhausted. Jeff conked out before the boys did.

The last day we got Jeff to come to the pool and enjoy the waterslide with the kids and then it was time to pack up and go back home to sunny Riverside.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Universal...Fun on the the beach...

Jeff finished his fiscal year end on June 31st. So after a lot of late nights and hard work he was ready to take a day off and have some fun with the family. He took off the Friday before Fourth of July and we went to Universal Studios.

It was a crazy busy day to go to an amusement park but since we have Jeff's handicap stuff it wasn't bad. I think our favorite attraction was the Backlot tour.

Taylor got picked to help perform in the Foley demonstration...

and we finished the day with a meal at our new favorite restaurant at Universal City Walk Wolfgang puck's. It beats amusement park food (and prices) any day.

The next day Taylor and I reluctantly woke up early to do our 5K run/walk before the pancake breakfast. Taylor ran...I walked.

Unfortunately too much running and not enough food made Taylor feel sick at the end. I had enough time to eat a pancake and take this cute picture of Jeff holding Aiden before I had to take Taylor home.

Luckily once Taylor could lay down and rest and eventually eat he started feeling better...then is was off to the Bagley's for some forth of July fun in the pool.

Burger boys trying not to burn anything. (JK they did a great job cooking them)

I had to almost wrestle Jacob out of the pool to eat (too much fun)...

And I always knew where to find Ashley... away from the majority of the splashing :)

It felt like old times hanging out with friends including the Banagases back from Costa Rica (including Wes who surprised Shawna by flying back early).

After the Bagleys we came home to clean up and then drove out to meet Jeff's family in Corona for fireworks. Dale and his kids even drove down from Paldale.

My kids always enjoy time with their cousins.

Steve always enjoys the live music at these kids always enjoy the food.

Here we have some cotton candy bigger than Ashley...

There were smoothies, candy, chicken, the best shaved ice ...

and of course Kettle Corn and carmel corn. The Best!

Then finally the fireworks...

After fourth of July weekend was over Taylor was off to scout camp and I was left with two. So the kids wouldn't feel to lonley without Taylor we had Jenae and Jolene over for a cousin sleep over.

We swam, had pizza, pulled the bed out for a movie night until late and then woke up the next for more swimming, hanging out and a little time at the park.

The next day we packed up and went with Jeff on what ended up being a last minute trip to Laguna Beach. He got the invitation Sunday night to attend an overnight conference in Laguna Beach at the Sand and Surf hotel. We were pleasantly suprised when we were shown to our room. It was a great room even before...

we saw the view from the balcony...

It reminded us of Hawaii. I could've sat on the balcony all day! Jeff got to enjoy it for about 5 minutes before he was off to his meetings and then all the kids wanted to do was close the window (they said it was too loud) and close the blinds (they said it was too bright). Crazy kids!!! I indulged them for a little bit and then I took them swimming.

When we got back we cleaned up and took the kids to Jack in the Box...and then snuggled them up rented a movie for them and then was off to our nice
dinner with New York Life a couple floors away.

Before dinner I watched this wedding being performed on the beach along with the joggers and kids playing in the sand next to them...Crazy.

Jacob and Ashley were perfectly content snuggling up in the room watching a movie instead of coming to dinner with us. In fact Jeff came to tuck them in bed. Their movie was over and they were going to sleep before we even got our entree!

The next morning I ordered them room service for breakfast. After a few bites they were done. I made them eat more because it cost so much!

I finally pulled them away from the TV and the dark room (I was on the balcony going over Visiting teaching stuff and people watching) to stroll along the beach. They complained until they got on the sand and then they loved it.

After our walk we changed into swim stuff and then came out to enjoy the beach and the pool. Even though I had snacks, sand toys and chairs, towel and umbrellas (provided by the hotel) the kids didn't last too long. They said it wasn't fun without friends to play with. So we ended up back at the pool before long.

Jeff got done with his meetings with just enough time to pack up and check out of our room. Poor guy never even got to put his foot in the pool or step on the sand. We considered staying another night so he could enjoy it but thought better about it once we realized it would come with a $500.oo price tag.

Instead we went down the coast and checked out some of the tide pools...

We loved looking at all the crabs, the sea anenomes and the fish swimming around in them...

Aftwards we topped off our day with dinner at the Rusty Pelican. The kids loved it there and gained a new appreciation for fish. (We always tell them when we go out to dinner that we are going to eat fish and then they have no desire to go).

Driving home real life hit again as we remembered that Jeff had stake meetings that night. He raced home to make them as I unpacked and got the kids to bed.

Over the next two days I had a funeral and lunch to help with, a going away party for friends that were moving away, welcoming Taylor back from scout camp (along with all his dirty clothes), our first Murder Mystery party and a family get toegether for Jeff's cousin who is being deployed to Iraq in a couple of weeks and lots of shopping, picking up stuff and planning for the Stake Dance that Jeff helped with until midnight on Saturday. Luckily Steve and Tahna returned the favor and had Jacob and Ashley over for a cousin sleep over which kept them occupied for part of our craziness. Thanks Steve and Tahna!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I am finding our summer schedule is not conducive to me getting anything done that I want to or need to get done. Along with grocery shopping, regular housecleaning and blogging not much is getting done over here. Though there has been a lot of playing with friends, making forts, a few excursions here and there and us begging other people to come and swim in their pools. Thank you to all you pool people that take pity on our pool-less circumstances :-)

Well Ashley did great at her dance recital despite the fact that she had a raging ear infection that started 10 minutes before the curtain came up. We got her calmed down and loaded with medicine and she made it through the performance and then I took her to urgent care. Sure enough she had a bad ear infection on one side. When her eardrum burst later that night I realized how painful it must have been for her earlier and she still stuck it out. So proud of her!

Some other fun stuff has been a huge beach day! Probably the most people we've had yet with about 40 kids or so (some of them couldn't bother to come and get their picture taken).

Ashley even had a friend come along with her family and a friend of theirs.

The boys worked on this sand creation instead of playing in the water (it was freezing). My feet were numb when I tried to wade in the water with Ashley.

Another fun night was our night at the drive in. We had 8 families come and hang out to watch "Up" and "Night of the museum. This picture features all our children with donuts hanging out of their mouths and a random boy up front that wandered over from some other family and kept wanting to drink our soda (I had to watch him like a hawk).

Here is the boy that started the donut show and tell.

Does Taylor have a new girlfriend and not even know it?

Last week Ashley and I got our own adventure together. We were invited to the California Pizza Kitchen tour last minute when there was a cancellation. She had fun touring the kitchen and making her own pizza but I think her favorite part was holding baby Aiden.