Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Happy-ish Place on Earth

In April, (yes, I know it is June. Let's not talk about that...) we decided to brave "The Happiest Place on Earth" for our big family trip for the year. We figured we should go to Disneyland while the girls were still young enough that everything would be "magical" and because they are currently obsessed with princesses. Dressing up as one is an everyday occurrence at our house. Jane is always Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty because they are blond like her. Allie is always Jasmine because...both like to show their belly button. I always seem to be deemed Pocohontas which I think is pretty great. She is one tough chic. Cliff diver, kayaker, and her grandma is a tree. Pretty cool. (Although, Jevan and I have a long standing argument about whether Pocohontas is, in fact, a princess. Daughter of a chief? C'mon..that SO counts).

We went with some friends who also have 2 small kids. They were smart and decided to fly. We decided to save money and drive. I actually highly recommend driving to Disneyland - we made great time, kids were happy, all went smoothly. I just don't recommend driving HOME from Disneyland. Instead, board a jet that travels somewhere around the speed of light. It was over 12 hours of torture.

Overall, the trip was great. We loved our days at Disneyland despite a few days of cold and rain. The girls had a great time and even got to eat a very overpriced dinner with the princesses. We rode the girls' favorite rides over and over, which by the way were not Peter Pan or Dumbo. Nope. Splash Mountain and Allie's favorite, Tower of Terror. What the? The girl thrives on adrenaline.

We also visited Sea World (not so impressed...I think it's because they put all their money and resources into Shamu instead of having world class aquariums like I thought they would. And I dunno, there is just something that rankles in the back of my brain when I watch the Shamu Show knowing that Shamu EATS people.)

I know travel logs are long and lame so I will just let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Let the magic begin! (Or something.....)

The must- have picture in front of the castle. Ya know, I've been to Disneyland lots of times and I never knew you could actually go IN the castle. I thought it was all for show - which I thought was pretty lame. It's good to know they are letting Sleeping Beauty live there. Here is also one of the many places we almost lost Allie. That kinda happened A LOT.

The key to getting a cute smile from the Allie is surprise. Fear and surprise. Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope. (Monty Python anyone?)

Meanwhile Jane always hams it up. They are both quite cute if I do say so myself!

Dad and Jane riding Dumbo.

Yay for Dumbo!

The girls were more excited for this visit with Tigger than for just about anything else. Allie was positively giddy. It was really cute.

In addition to fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and a fanatical devotion to the pope, tickles form Dad will also get Allie to smile.

And at about 5:00 the girls zonked out. Which was perfect considering we had our dinner with the Princesses at 6:30!!!

In this picture, the recently awakened but still exhausted girls are trying their best to be happy...

... whereas here they make no such effort. Truly the happiest place on earth. I think Jane is particularly unhappy because Jevan woke her up from her nap and took her on the Grizzly River Run and got her soaked.

Ahh, the "Princess" Dinner. Never have the girls tasted such expensive macaroni and cheese. Nor will they again.

The girls really did get a kick out of giving each of the princesses a hug. It was cute to see them flip when they came up to the table.

She may have a dress like Belle on, but she was freaky. But not nearly as freaky as some of the other "Princesses". For example...

Meet Snow White! She enjoys cooking and cleaning for small men, long walks in the forest, and occasionally murders potential mates with an ice pick. But if you think SHE'S scary...

Jevan was (and still is) convinced that Ariel was either a robot or a giant cockroach alien hiding in a human's skin like the thing from Men In Black. She was truly terrifying. Not sure if they cast these roles based upon the individual's potential for violent crime but it certainly seemed like it.

Sea World! Gotta love the tide pools. Playing with sea creatures is always fun.


Allie has started this thing of putting her hands over her ears whenever a) there is something scary on TV or outside, or b) when she is being scolded. In this picture we were walking through a tunnel with sharks swimming above and there was some scary music playing.

Our little Allie actually nearly managed to jump into the seal pen at one point.

Unfortunately, the day we decided to go to the beach it was cold with gale-force winds. But hey, how can you not have fun at a beach? There is just nothing better than lots of sand and seashells to discover.

Jane got a little bit wet so needed to be covered with her towel to stay warm.

Jevan spent the day at the beach in his fleece.

Matt and Jen did as well. But we made it to the beach, dangit!

We sat through one of the parades and the girls got to go and dance with Buzz and Woody.

The girls with Tinkerbell and her vaguely effeminate brown-clad "friend". Jevan called him a "Mairy".

Yay for the Peter Pants ride! Note: calling it "Peter Pants" made Jane quite upset.

Jevan dropped me off in St. George on the way home to go hiking and ride bikes with some of the women from my neighborhood. It was nice to go from a week of non-stop family time to some girl time with friends. All in all it was a fabulous vacation!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Allie-Cat

Allison got a little older this month. It will now be a bit more believable when I tell people her age. Now I can say "3" and maybe only the occasional person will say, "Really? But she's so big!!", like I got day in and day out when I used to tell people she was 2. Yes, yes, she ain't a short kid. But let's not go giving her a Jolly Green Giant complex or anything, okay? Now that she is 3, maybe she is starting to fit into her body a little more.

So in keeping with tradition and to give a little tribute to Allison, here is the top 10 things I love about Allison. Really there are 4 kajillion, buhbillion and ten (Jane's favorite number) but that might just be a wee too much for one post (plus, how many is that, I wonder?).


1. Her funny little scrunched up smile and mischievous laugh.

Allie at one year old.

2. Her sense of daring. Nothing is too scary, too fast or too deep. This can be seen as a good thing or as a certain death wish. It is a true adventure to take this child swimming. Diving boards, waterslides...these are no obstacles...just continual ways to make her mother stress out. She is also pretty low drama when it comes to pain. Last month I took her sledding and she took a spill that ended in a gushing head wound. She cried for a minute and then became fascinated by the "red paint". She only started to cry again when I told her I had to take her to the car to get her cleaned up instead of taking her back to the sledding hill. We had to take her to urgent care and they super-glued her back together. (I know, super glue? The stuff really works though.) She was a trooper.

3. The fact that she named her favorite stuffed animal puppy "Perrito". (She is OBSESSED with Dora the Explorer right now). The great thing is that she has a tough time saying perrito so it sounds like "burrito". Who wouldn't want a puppy named after mexican food?

4. The way she snuggles into me when she's tired (and it takes a lot to do that). I have had to wait years for this child to snuggle. I will gladly take all of it I can get.

Allie at 5 months.

5. That she potty trained herself! Really, I tried for a few weeks to get her to use the potty - she would use it, but then if I didn't ask her if she had to go every 5 minutes, we would have accidents. It was a bit of a nightmare. Finally, I told her I had given up and we were back to pull-ups. A week or so later, she asked for one last chance with her underwear and has never looked back. Yay! For the first time in 4 years, there are no diapers in our house.

6. That she thinks her "real" name is Allison Wonderland. She gets mad if you tell her what her real last name is. I'm with her. Wonderland is much, much cooler.

Allison Wonderland

7. Her funny little brain. I would love to know what goes on up there. She is in her own little world so much that I figure it must be something pretty good. This also makes her the world's best dawdler (is that a word)? You ask her to do something as simple as to go put on some socks and it MIGHT get done next Thursday. I think it's funny and maddening at the same time.

8. Her outgoing personality. Allie really fears no one. She will walk up to anyone and ask them their name. That's about as far as the conversation goes, but she is not shy. Again, this can be good and bad in that she has no problem telling anyone her mind, and also has no problem with "stranger danger".

9. The way she can be going 90 miles an hour and then sit down and "read" her favorite books quietly to herself for a good half hour. She is a crazy busy kid, but she can focus when she wants to.

10. Her big heart. Allie is so loving and is always asking if I'm okay. She loves to give bear hugs and slobbery kisses. I know she loves her older sister. Although they fight a lot, you can also find her happily tagging after Jane where ever she goes.

Allison is a source of great happiness in our lives. She makes us laugh, makes us wonder, makes us slow down and just enjoy the journey. We love you Allie!


For her birthday, we took Allie, along with her cousins, to the Kamas Pool to go swimming. After, we had pizza and cake. It was a grand time. Here are some pictures.

Allie opening her dress ups and jewelry from her grandma and grandpa.

Pizza with cousins.

My lowly cake decorating skills...the "Allie Cat" cake.

Allie in her new birthday hat from her aunt...with pizza all over her face...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An irresponsible post

I had a choice for what to do tonight: finish my taxes or blog. It proved to be an interesting conundrum. However, the guilt for not having posted since Thanksgiving finally overcame the inevitability of the taxman and I decided to do the irresponsible, more fun thing. Besides, one of my coworkers, a notorious blog stalker (Hi Caplan!) told me she needed something to read during one of the otherwise boring meetings she gets to attend.

So we kinda skipped December. You might recall, but Christmas and New Years happened at some point in there. Not going to rehash it too much, but suffice it to say it was lovely. The most notable thing that happened was I surprised Em with a trip to Cancun with my sister and her husband. This irresponsible post is going to be mostly dedicated to some highlights of that trip.

But before we even get to Cancun, let's start with the drama that preceded it. My sister, Becca, started feeling sick a few days before we were to leave. Not the "I have a runny nose and a head cold" sick, but the "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY I THINK THERE IS A BOULDER LODGED IN MY GALL BLADDER". Yup, she had a major gall stone. For those of you that don't know (and I was in this camp prior to this event), the gall bladder is

"a hollow organ that sits in a concavity of the liver known as the gallbladder fossa. In adults, the gallbladder measures approximately 8 cm in length and 4 cm in diameter when fully distended.[2] It is divided into three sections: fundus, body, and neck. The neck tapers and connects to the biliary tree via the cystic duct, which then joins the common hepatic duct to become the common bile duct."

Lovely, yes? Here's a picture:

It doesn't look all that important...

So, feeling not so well and worried about the upcoming vacation, she decided to try a few homeopathic treatments (read: witch doctor remedies) for gall stones. While I don't have a complete list, I think this consisted of:
1) Chugging olive oil and lemon juice.
2) Drinking kiwi-strawberry Kool-Aid through a straw, upside down while whistling Dixie. Note: This is even harder than it sounds.
3) Sacrificing virgin chickens to a pagan deity.

Sadly, none of these things worked. Come Tuesday night, she was in excruciating pain and couldn't down her oil'n'kool-aid cocktail. It was thus decided that she would head to the doctor the next day.

Once there, the doctor immediately decided that the strange little organ needed to be removed, a process that is known as a hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostomy. Ok maybe not exactly, but that's a really long word. You would think that something with a name that long would have a really long recovery time, but you would be wrong. The surgery is out-patient, and the doctor informed Becca that she could either rest and recover at home with 4 young children, or do it on the beach in Cancun. No-brainer, right?

After a successful hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostomy that afternoon, we headed to the airport early the next morning (yes, less than 12 hours after surgery, Becca was on a plane). Please note that if you ever have the occasion to travel with a person in a wheelchair, provided you are not the person in the wheelchair, it is a pretty sweet deal. We breezed through security and, once in Mexico, customs. It was pretty fantastic. Of course, there is the minor detail of Becca sitting in the back of the plane, drugged up and in excruciating pain, but if I had the choice, I would have her do it again.

Renting a car proved to take about as long as the flight from Salt Lake. This is one interesting thing about Cancun - everyone is constantly trying to sell you on a timeshare presentation of some sort. If you go to get some Advil from the pharmacy, they try to get you to take a sunset cruise or go snorkeling. When buying a taco from a street vendor you're likely to be pitched on a once-in-a-lifetime deal for a timeshare. So, after the rental car company spent at least an hour "cleaning" the car (which really means stalling until we bought the tickets to the outdoor adventure park), we finally headed out to our hotel. Here are a few highlights from the trip:

- Steve (Becca's husband who speaks Spanish and is 3/7ths Mexican) and I went golfing the second day we were there. While golfing, we caught up with an older couple that was playing super slow. We passed them, but later on in the round they came riding up to pass us, obviously done for the day. They were probably in their mid to late 60s, and looked like they had come right from a Grateful Dead concert. We asked them where they were headed, and he said they were heading for the bar. Except when he said it every other word was the f-bomb. So they rode off to the bar and we kept playing. About a half-hour later, we were teeing off and saw a cart way off in the distance. I thought it was a maintenance worker, but it turned out it was Capt. Salty and his wife. I asked why they weren't at the bar and he simply replied "Because we were smoking a joint!" with the requisite colorful adjectives. After declining his offer to roll us one, they rode off, giggling. I kinda like that retirement plan.

Playing Shanghai in our very own own Cabana.

- One morning we woke up to the sound of 20 ambulances screaming up and down the road outside the hotel. Looking outside the window, I saw that there were some bleachers that had been set up for a group picture for a company that was having a conference at the hotel. The top row of the bleachers was a good 15 feet off the ground. While taking the picture, the bleachers either just collapsed (entirely possible) or were rammed by the car that was sitting conspicuously next to the mangled bleachers with its hood dented in (more likely). Whatever the cause, a good many Unilever employees were taken to the hospital.

While leaving to head into town that morning, we passed a reporter and her cameraman milling about the scene. Steve leaned out the window while passing them and yelled out in gringo Spanish "We saw the whole thing happen, do you want an interview?" The reporter ran toward us so fast that her cameraman nearly fell over, but by the time she got to the car Steve had gunned the engine and sped off down the road, laughing maniacally. The reporter was crestfallen, her exclusive scoop turning out to be pretty much the comedic equivalent of "Made you look!".

- We had dinner at a restaurant that served Mayan food one night. Fortunately the staff was not Mayan, because otherwise we would not have been able to communicate with them because apparently they couldn't speak (ask Becca about this). The menus did however have some words and phrases in Mayan. Typically, when you are given a primer in another language on a menu, you could expect to find words or phrases like

"Thank you."
"My name is ___"
"I would like a ___"

On this menu, you could find the following:

Ak - Dwarf
Al bo'ol - Cheating at payment
Bix - String Bean
Chakay - Sea lobster
Chak op - Bald
Etyum - Godfather

and my personal favorites for sheer randomness

Haha che-eh - Guffaw
T'uubul k'iin - Solar event

Pretty much all the words you need to order food at a restaurant. Provided you wanted to eat a your godfather, the bald sea lobster.

As far as phrases went, you could learn to say

'Bahun a hantantik ma'a hanal' (Why do you eat what is not yours?) or 'Tulacal baal yan tat, he baax a kat a hante; xectaba' (We have everything sir, whatever you want to eat, please sit).

Honestly, they couldn't even just put normal numbers on the menu. You can learn to say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 22, and 90. Truly beyond random, but it was amusing to call Em a dwarf and my little stringbean during dinner.

Bin k'iin, bo'ol chakay. Nak' lip'chi' kex. Et ok ak exex haha che'eh hach ah tus kanan way hanal kan.

Use this to translate the above caption.

- We wanted to go to see some ruins, but took a recommendation from my cousin to go see Ek Balaam rather than Chitzen Itza, as it is much less touristy. It was a great recommendation and we spent the better part of the morning cavorting in the ruins. (For reference, you cannot actually visit ruins unless you cavort. It's just not right.)

Note: do NOT attempt to use a tripod here. At least 15 Mexicans who were previously sitting around a table playing cards while people were spray painting on the ruins will run at you with guns drawn if you attempt to use it.

View from the top of the pyramid with our friend Snakeeyes the Canadian.

I'm not going to lie - I was hoping Indian Jones was going to come running out of one of these buildings.

I had no idea the Mayans could speak or used picket fences.

I'm fairly certain that this is nature's equivalent of a "Trespassers will be shot" sign.

- Em and I also spent a day playing on Cozumel. We rented a scooter and some snorkel gear and hung out at the beach all afternoon. Truly a blissful day.

I wonder what the menu said in this restaurant. Not at all random to have a Pagoda in the middle of a tiny Mexican town.

We came home to the thick inversion soup that we had last month and were immediately immersed back into the day-to-day circus that we call our life.

Finally, I'll leave you with a couple of funny Jane stories:

- Em, in an ever-escalating war to create the weirdest cakes for birthdays (we've had pandas and hippos so far), created a golf cake for me, complete with a dimpled golf ball and an Oreo hole. Jane, having helped make the cake, was quite aware of all that went into its creation. After getting her piece of the cake, she took a bite, then looked at Em and said 'Mom, when I was looking at the cake I thought it was going to be a 3, but after eating it I think it's definitely a 68.'

Fore... out of 10.

- Having just finished her bath, Jane came up to me in her towel and earnestly said 'Dad, why can't I chop off all of my fingers?' Ummm... because?

Allie really is smiling here. I am not kidding. We have to work on it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

In Desperation....

Happy belated Thanksgiving. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will tell you what we are all thankful for. Jane is thankful for her cinderella flashlight. Allie is thankful for corn. (We know this because she either blesses or expresses gratitude for "the corn" in EVERY prayer, not just at dinner. I have no idea what is up with the corn.) Jevan is thankful for sleep because that is what he is doing right now. And I am grateful for a husband who willingly, if not enthusiastically will submit himself to this:

Yes, tonight we had a Tea Party Dinner.

Before you go thinking to yourself, "Here we go again with another one of those look-at-my-oh-so-cute-and-perfect-life stories", know this. This was out of sheer desperation. This was one of those times when you call your husband at 6:00 and your stomach drops when you can still hear office noises in the background. "You haven't left yet?" Yikes. And he still has a 50 minute drive ahead of him. (I know, we made our bed and now we have to sleep in it, right?) AND, your kids are about to kill each other. Dinner is almost done, the movie you put in to save your sanity is over, and so what do you do? Throw a tea party. Getting dressed up and and the table set burns up LOTS of extra time. Sheer desperation. But amusing in the end so I had to take a picture.

Also, I would recommend these tea party dinners as an excellent dieting tool. Tiny plates equal great portion control.

Oh, and not more than 20 minutes after it is all over, Jane throws herself a mighty tantrum. Does anyone else have a four year old that is 85% wonderful and 15% possessed by demons? I mean raging demons. She literally turns on a dime, too. And usually in front of the neighbor we have just met.