Monday, June 30, 2008

8 hour beach day

Thursday morning we headed out to the beach to build the sandcastle of all sandcastles. The boys (Jacob, James, and Andrew) were on outer-wall duty. Their job, essentially, was to keep the ocean away from the city. They built some excellent drainage systems and even used their own bodies as breakers at times.

Our battle against destruction had two fronts: the ocean and Rachel. Rachel is almost as powerful as the ocean when it comes to destroying things, but not quite.

The girls (Sarah, Emily, and I) were in charge of the inner wall and the castle. I helped with that a little, although much of my time was spent keeping Rachel from destroying the castle.

Emily and I mostly scavenged for shells to decorate the castle with after the wall was built.

Reid just got his MPA, so he was the overseer of the project. He also did a fair share of Rachel-duty.

The castle ended up being quite grand, with a swimming pool, a seaweed garden, and seashell walkways. Several people came to admire it.

Eventually the tide came in too far and we lost our castle to a watery grave. By this time, my family had shown up at the beach, so our attention was diverted to 5 more children, boogie boarding, and paddle ball.

Paddle ball is like 4 squares, only we played with 6 squares. We drew our court in the wet sand at high tide, hoping that the ocean would leave us be. Unfortunately for us, the waves kept coming up and wiping away our court lines. We had to redraw them every few minutes so that we could continue our game. I don't know why the ocean was out to get us so badly! It didn't seem to be coming up that far anywhere else on the beach!

All the little kiddies got a little cold. Kali fell asleep in Mindy's arms all wrapped up in a towel, and Rachel couldn't get enough of Grandma!

It's warm on Grandma's lap!

I'll have to get some pictures from Jenna. I didn't take many pictures of the family because I was too busy boogie boarding, making Kitty (aka Savannah) into a mermaid, and playing paddle ball to get behind the lens much.

Jenna, Alexia, Savannah, Auntie Arlene, and the back of Vance's head

Josie went home with Mindy to spend the night, and everyone else left, too. It's always so hard to say goodbye to family, but we had a great time hanging out at the beach with them all!


On Wednesday we went to Legoland. I will admit that it was cooler than I thought it was going to be. It was definitely geared for 7 year olds, but it was still neat. Andrew, Emily, and Jacob, the family lego-gurus had a wonderful time. The rest of us had a good time as well, whether we will admit it or not.

Miniland USA is the first attraction. We went on a little boat ride around the world and saw replicas of the Taj Mahal, New York City, and the Sydney Opera house, just to name a few famous places. We also saw some elephants, dinosaurs, and other animals made entirely of lego. It was pretty amazing. Rachel loved the boat ride. I'm not sure what she's pointing to in this picture, but she's pretty excited about it.

She was a little aprehensive about the giant replicas of things. She downright refused befriend R2D2. His head whirled around and he whistled. Even with Grandpa right there, she was terrified. Thomas the Tank Engine was a little less scary, but she was still afraid to go up to him.

Perhaps we just started too big because she loved walking through the rest of Miniland USA.

And she had warmed up to the idea of animatronics by midafternoon, though, and befriended a triceritops. It would growl and move its head when anyone approached it. Rachel would growl right back at it. It was pretty funny.

A lot of the rides were pretty tame. Rachel had a great time, though! She was allowed on more rides than at Sea World, and even got to go on a ride by herself.

She sat in her own seat and Daddy sat across from her. She was a very good girl and loved looking at all the lego farm food. By the time the train had gone around the track twice, however, she figured out how to undo the seatbelt and was up and out of her seat.

They also had some great play areas for little children, brimming over with duplos, watertoys, and lego replicas. Rachel really learned to love lego!

Rachel, the lego princess

What? I'm playing.

Andrew also had a fun time playing at all the lego stations. Now he wants to get Rachel some duplos so that he can build things with her. He sure does miss his lego.

What? I'm playing.

Rachel throws some lego pieces

Daddy shows off his creations

Auntie Josie gives Darth Vader some love

Our favorite rides were the knight's jousting tournament, the dinosaur roller coaster, the dragon roller coaster and the car testing roller coaster. Rachel's favorite rides were the boat ride and the train ride in Duplo Land.

There was a lot of neat stuff to see. Miniland USA was really quite fascinating. But it just lacks the magic of Disney. Legoland tried to thematisize their rides, but they failed. Afterall, no one really cares about the lego dragon and its dorky 2-meausre theme song that repeats over and over and over again. They do, however, care about the Peter Pan (or other such ride) and its theme song because it evokes fond childhood memories.

I wonder why Legoland didn't have a StarWars ride since they had all the characters sitting around the park. That would have been a popular ride.

Oh, well. It was fun anyway. Charming, even. But not worth the $59 or however much it cost to get in.

1 month, 2 weeks

We're getting excited to go to Egypt. So many things are just falling into place--it's quite miraculous and we feel rather blessed. Sure, I'm still stressed out beyond belief. There are a million and one things on my to-do list, but really things are working out marvelously.

The branch in Cairo seems amazing. So many people have emailed us. The primary president, Phyllis, emails me periodically just to check up on us. We're in contact with a few young families over there, including the Masons. And the branch president has offered to pick us up from the airport and let us crash at his place until we find a flat of our own.

Just knowing that we will have a roof over our head for the first week or so that we are there makes me feel much more at ease.

We're also much more excited to go to Cairo than we were previously because we found out this past week that Andrew's 2/3 fellowship has been increased to a full ride fellowship! What a blessing! Someone with a fellowship decided to drop from the program, which was just so nice for us.

It's funny because we've been praying to be approved for a student loan, but one night a few weeks ago I accidentally prayed that we'd get a scholarship. Student loan. Scholarship. They're easy to get mixed up.

Andrew teased me about it, saying that we already had a scholarship and now we just needed to find a way to pay for the rest of school--and that way was a student loan. Little did he know how the Lord intended on answering our prayers. We are just so grateful and excited!

And because we found out just a day or so before going to Legoland, we were a little Egypt-happy when we went. Legoland has some great Egypt displays--I think we found them all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

California Water

Jacob thought the water in California was gross. I will admit that it has a different taste than Utah water, although I'm not sure it was gross.

He thought it was so disgusting that he refused to drink tap water. Everyone else was fine with tap water, but he absolutely refused to drink a drop after he had his first cupful. He made a ceremoniously big deal about claiming several water bottles for himself.

Every time he took a drink he would sigh and announced, "Ahhh! Now that's good water!"

Truthfully, none of us were all that bothered by the tap water. And we were getting a little tired of hearing Jacob rejoice over each swallow of bottled water. And it was only our first day there.

So on Sunday morning, Andrew decided he'd pull a little switcheroo on Jacob.

"Man, I'm thirsty," said Andrew, walking over to the fridge and opening the door.

"Is your water bottle the one in the door?" he asked Jacob.


"Alright, I won't take that one then," said Andrew, taking that bottle out of the fridge.

When Jacob had left the room, Andrew dumped the precious bottled water out and filled it up with regular old tap water and replaced the bottle in the door of the fridge. Then we went to church.

When we came home, we, along with Karen, convinced Jacob that he was thirsty and needed a drink of water.

Andrew got a drink of tap water. I got a drink of tap water. Jacob went to the fridge and got his special water bottle. He took a swig.

"How was that?" we asked.

He fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: something is always up when someone asks you "How was that?"

Unfortunately, he didn't recognize that as a classic blunder and took another gulp before answering.

"So, good! It's cold, it's refreshing..." he listed every shining quality water could have.

"Better than tap water?" we asked.

"Oh, so much better! It tastes so good and fresh! The tap water is gross. But this? This is amazing!"

"I dumped out that water bottle this morning and filled it up with tap water," Andrew informed Jacob, seriously.

"You did not!" Jacob accused.

"Yes, he did," Karen and I agreed, for we had watched him do it.

Jacob threw a mild temper tantrum, jumping up and down a few times and saying things like, "How could you?" but he was quite content to drink tap water for the rest of the vacation.

The Garbage Can Incident

Late Thursday night, Andrew put out the garbage can. We had two garbage days while we were there. Spoiled, I know.

We never were sure where to put our garbage can, though. The condo faced Mission Boulevard, the back of the condo opened onto Capistrano and the front opened up to another street. The official address for the condo was Mission Boulevard, but there didn't seem to be a lot of garbage cans on the street.

The roads on the coastline are rather small. Mission Boulevard is really decently wide, but not when there are cars lining both sides of the street and an island in the middle. The side streets though, are just teeny tiny! Some of the "streets" leading to the boardwalk were nothing more than a walkway, yet people seemed to get their cars down them somehow.

I was never really sure what was considered a street or a walkway. The walkways were labeled with the same signs that the streets were. I suppose the rule of thumb would be that if you can fit a car on it, it's a street.

Anyway, on Monday Jacob put out the garbage can on Mission Boulevard. It got emptied, so we figured that was the right place for it.

On Thursday, Andrew went out and put the garbage can on Mission Boulevard, but there was a car parked really close to the corner of the sidewalk and the street at the front of the house.

"Someone's going to hit that," Andrew thought to himself, but he left the can there anyway and came back inside the house to play games with everyone.

An hour or so later, we were all laughing and having a good time playing Phase 10 when we heard a loud crash. At first we weren't too alarmed. Keep in mind that we were surrounded on three sides by streets--and with very little yard there wasn't much space to separate the condo from the street. We were very used to hearing car doors slam, skateboards clunk over the sidewalk lines, people walking by in very loud voices, and so forth.

What alarmed us was Andrew. The minute he heard the crash he turned bright red and lowered his head.

"What was that?" we heard a voice scream from outside.

Someone muffled a response.

"Dude, no way..."

"Way!" said a very annoyed person.

We all turned to look at Andrew. He had fanned out his cards and was trying to hide his face behind them.

"I think they hit the garbage can," Andrew said, suggesting the obvious.

The people who hit our can sounded very upset. We could hear them turning it upright and shoveling garbage back inside.

We tried to be sympathetic, but mostly we were laughing uncontrollably.

"Shhhh!" we kept hissing at each other.

We had Jacob close and lock the door--not that it would have dissuaded them much if they had wanted a confrontation since the number of our condo, 2780, was emblazoned on the garbage can--then we hunkered down, and tried to continue on with our game, until we heard them leave.

The minute we heard their car roar away, we all started laughing again and sent Andrew outside to assess the situation.

They had picked the garbage can, alright, but they had left it sitting in the middle of the road. Andrew moved it back to the curb and it was emptied the next morning by a very kind garbage man who dragged it onto the street in front of the house. I suppose it wasn't supposed to be on Mission Boulevard in the first place...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rachel goes missing

Rachel had a pretty rough night last night. Her schedule, however pitiful it was beforehand, has been completely thrown off. She fell asleep around 10 PM last night and wasn't very happy about having to do it.

We stayed up playing games and didn't go to bed until around 11:30. We were exhausted from having spent all day--eight hours--at the beach yesterday and fell asleep relatively quickly.

I was rudely awakened, however, at 1:30 by a completely inconsolable Rachel. I dragged her out of her crib and into her bed. I nursed her until she fell asleep, I think. I fell asleep before she did, but I had a lovely dream that I put her back into her bed. Oh, and that we'd already moved to Cairo and went shopping for clothes at DI because Andrew forgot to pack any clothes for us.

That part didn't feel very real, but the part where I put Rachel into her bed did feel real.

So this morning when I woke up, rolled over, and peeked into Rachel's bed, she wasn't there. I completely flipped out.

My pulse started racing and I was breathing heavily. I took one last scan of the crib, throwing blankets aside in a passionate hurry.

She was not in her crib.

I rolled over, tears already welling up in my eyes, to tell Andrew that Rachel was missing.

He woke up to me gulping in some fresh air and then sighing my relief. There was little Rachel, snuggled up to him, as safe as could be.

Needless to say it took me a few minutes to recover from my shock, but we're all ok now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beach Sarcophogi

Our trip to Sea World really exhausted Rachel. She had such a hard time falling asleep. Usually I can just put her in her crib and she'll fall asleep on her own, but on Monday night I had to nurse her to sleep. When she was finished, she flipped onto her back, spread eagle, and stayed in the same position for the entire night.

She slept in the next morning for many more hours than I expected her to.

When she was up and we were all ready to go, we went to the beach for the day. The waves were rather strong and she didn't really want to get in the water, but she had a fun time playing in the sand.

She was still a little tired from our excursion the day before and wasn't walking quite steady--she tripped and face planted in the sand. I expected her to cry, but she didn't. Instead she licked her lips, and deciding that the sand tasted pretty good, she picked up another handful and stuffed it in her mouth.

After washing her face off we left her in Grandma's care and went swimming in the ocean. The waves were crazy! We were cold when we got out, so James buried us in the sand. First me, then Josie, then Andrew, and finally Jacob. The sand was much heavier than I had originally expected. It got kind of hard to breathe, but it was rather cozy. I imagine it would be how being stuffed in a sarcophagus would feel.

Rachel wanted to be buried as well and was so excited when we started to pile sand around her.

We only buried her halfway--she was very patient and waited until we had stopped shoveling sand on her before she kicked her legs out.

We only lasted at the beach a couple of hours. The sun and the waves wasted us way too quickly--we were all boogie boarding and body surfing through some pretty big waves and were already sunburned from Sea World.

We came inside in the late afternoon and lazed about for the rest of the day. It was pretty relaxing.