Saturday, February 6, 2016


Ah now to my very favorite part of all January. Wes and my cruise. Seriously, my heart is happy simply thinking back on this little trip of ours. It was nearly perfect... I'll explain the not so perfect parts, but even those can't taint my memories. As I laid in our dark dark room (no windows) next to the love of my life I was reminded of how important it is to get away just the two of us. There is something so wonderful just being together away from reality for a while that I can't really put into words--- I think eating all alone might be my favorite part. Or just sitting, doing nothing, you can't really do that with young kids. I honestly always get the WORST anxiety leaving my kids (I am so a worse case scenario kind of person and have terrible morbid thoughts whenever I leave them). But I knew I was leaving them in capable, loving hands with both grandparents and am so glad we have trustworthy friends and family I can leave them with to alleviate to an extent my worries. Once I was on the boat those worries faded and we had the best time.

Our trip was just a short 4 day coastal cruise, stopping at Santa Barbara and Ensenada, Mexico. We were teased before leaving that we could drive to both of those places in the same day and save a lot of time and money. But, like I said, cruising is my favorite and this one did not disappoint.

Problems: The boat apparently had a really bad norovirus the week before (terrible stomach flu) and because of this our boarding time was pushed back so they could do a deep thorough sanitization of the ship before loading it again. A cruise would just be a cesspool of breeding for any illness if you can imagine. Really, this was not terrible because it meant the boat would be very clean. However, it did cause a little bit of trouble the remaining days. Like lines were crazy because they did not allow passengers to serve themselves anything anywhere. Dining times the first day were all wonky due to the delay and there was a huge delay to eat that night... not really a problem because you are never really hungry anyway. And we could NEVER get through to room service which was our biggest and really only complaint as that is one of our favorite cruise activities. Apparently we were not the only ones with this problem and I am not entirely sure why this was the case. But it bugged just a bit as we laid in bed watching movies at midnight, had the hankering for cake or enchiladas and could not get them right then. I know we sound like spoiled gluttons, which isn't far from the truth that week.

What did we do all week? Took like 2 naps a day. Watched a lot of movies... (some to note: The Avengers 2, Ant Man, The Intern, Cinderella, there were more but those ones I can remember watching a lot). We played games in common areas while snacking on food and drinking a lot of diet coke and Miami Vices and listening to music. We hit up the spa once, and went to a few shows. But, if I could summarize our trip I would have to say it was spent lounging and relaxing. Which is exactly what I had hoped for in this trip. We did have breakfast delivered to our room every morning so we could watch movies and eat in bed... have I mentioned what I imagine heaven to be like? Cuz' there it is folks. Have I mentioned Wes and I are professional loungers? We did get dressed around noon everyday to hit up some boat activities but the majority of what we planned to do was outside and cancelled due to bad weather. So.... we would usually eat, play some games somewhere and then go take a nap.

Noteworthy events:
Santa Barbara: We met some friends on our first night who suggested hitting up the courthouse in Santa Barbara. So after walking the small wharf, we walked State St., stopped in a few shops, got an ice cream cone while we walked and finally made it there. We went to the top of the tower there to overlook the city, and then walked the stairs back down to take in the huge clock. We totally lucked out as that was only open Wed. and Sat. from 1-2pm, we happened to be there Wed at about 1:20 to take the free tour. We took the 50 cent trolley back to our little boat that would shuttle us back to the cruise. Then we got lunch on the boat (we weren't going to waste money on food in town, when it was already waiting for us paid for on the boat). Then we napped.
Before we left to go to Santa Barbara, I got stuck talking to this character while waiting for our little boat to take us to shore. And Wes was laughing so hard behind him; he snuck this picture and I was left trying to be courteous while talking to him, and not bust up laughing while Wes was there laughing and taking photos. It was no easy task.

That night:
On Monday night (our first night on the boat) when seating at dinner was all wonky, we ended up sitting by this older couple, who are veteran cruisers. I think this was their 120th cruise, 66th on Princess cruise lines. We got to talking to them and heard some of their stories. Well, they took a liking to us and invited us to sit with them at their dinner table the next few nights, if their table wasn't full. They found us the next night and sadly sad there was no room by them, which was fine, but they wanted to have another meal with us and invited us to the specialty restaurant on the ship, their treat. We of course accepted. So after our day in Santa Barbara we met them that night for dinner. First of all, that food is far superior to the normal dining experience and if you have the extra money, I would highly recommend it. It was an Italian restaurant where I had the best appetizer (fresh soft mozzarella, basil, tomato with a balsamic reduction, and lobster prepared 3 ways. Wes got the bomb veal that was better than either of us expected and probably better than the steak. So super yummy! This couple was really very fun to talk to and had stories to tell of their world cruise (that lasted 108 days... yowza)!

Richard and Tina

Ensenada: We truly didn't know if we were even going go get off the boat at this port. Our last experience was pretty terribly comical if you will recall here. We decided to around noon, simply so we could get something small for the girls. We walked around the cheap, souvenir "shopping streets" and got them a little bracelet each and jumping beans. The beans went over very well. We walked for maybe an hour or so and then headed back to the boat. I really needed a Miami Vice. ;) After our snacks and drinks on board we went back for a nap.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Party On!

I love a good party. Be it birthday, wedding, holiday you name it and I'm there! I prefer to go to parties then plan them, so it worked out well for us this past month to make it to some fun shindigs.

First up on our party list was a wedding reception for a young man Wes use to teach at church (when he was 14) and I later taught in seminary his senior year. He has always been an exceptional young man and we are so proud of his accomplishments thus far in life. His young bride seems like a fun loving, wonderful girl too and their reception was an absolute blast. We caught up and danced the night away with a lot of old friends. Ate In-n-Out to our hearts content (if I could do it again I would have INO cater my reception) and just honestly had a wonderful time. My girls were in heaven the whole night and thought nothing could be better than mom and dad and all their friends dancing together and then getting to take home some flowers. Jovie kept saying she wanted to get married too.

The next day Peyton was invited to a friends birthday party at a jump house near us. Wes took her while Jovie and I had fun shopping and getting slurpees together.

Then as soon as those two got back we were off again to yet another party for "baby" Reed (who is really no baby as he is 2, but that's what we call him in our family--- well at least for another 2 months until his family gets their real baby).

Again we had a grand time visiting, and playing with friends. The Duncans have the dream backyard for kids. A swing set, huge playhouse full of toys. Lots of candy and food. Then out came the pinata... yes it was another fun event!

Monday, January 18, 2016

More Outdoors

Well, the rest of our California winter hasn't been quite as cold as the last post. In fact, the great "El Nino" storm we were promised has been a real let down thus far. Fingers crossed it picks up in February. However, because of that little factoid, we have been enjoying being outdoors. Mostly while poor Peyton has been at school, but what can you do? I know I've mentioned it time and time again, but we feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful area, and especially blessed to have our little community area so close by. It is gorgeous and we have truly loved having it and being near the lake. No complaints from these Mo Val residents.

These are the resident ducks we've named Patty and Malfoy. They are so friendly and always buddy around together, just the two of them. Jovie especially loves them, Peyton feels a little more hesitant around them, though she too enjoys them. One day we were feeding them and ran out of bread but they still hung around for a while. Jovie was a little nervous with how close Malfoy (white duck) was, but being the animal lover she is, just could not resist bending over and trying to pick him up. She was able to touch him before he very quickly waddled away.
 No food this time, but they still always come over to check things out.
 And I am so happy I caught the tail end of this moment. Jovie was trying to sit on the bar like Peyton and succeeded for a moment. However, as you can see, she fell through the bars but clung for dear life on it and swung there at the bottom. It was pure comedy.
 And this girl's latest trend is the thumbs up... my favorite.
On another day Wes and Jovie met me at the association after my workout there and we had a picnic and took a walk. It was really one of the most beautiful days. It was chilly, but the sun was out and the mountains in the background were covered in snow, but the sky was the perfect blue. It was a happy day and one I hope not to forgot ever.
P.S. She just had to wear that bonnet. 

And later that same week Wes had appointments all Saturday but mama really wanted to get out of the house. So we hit up a little local nursery that has a weird dinosaur trail and did some exploring. It's one of my girl's favorite places and I don't mind it either. Although I fear we may be breaking some rules with our wanderings. I figure if I don't look into it too much it won't hurt anyone. Yes, we are rebels like that. 
And finally, one of our last outdoor adventure days was yet another fun walk through Hidden Springs. A little area right up by us. I go there to collect sticks for crafts and the girls run wild. They climb everything and jump or slide off rocks. It almost always ends in tears (from a fall) but it's fun while the fun lasts.