Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday Tradition

Taylor recently graduated from the church nursery to "Bitty Church". I love the hand-outs she gets. They remind me of my own childhood Sunday School experience. There is just something very precious about children learning the Bible and singing songs about Jesus. We have some great teachers in our small church that have dedicated themselves to the children's ministry, and I am so blessed by their influence in Taylor's life. I am eternally grateful that my own parents made church a priority. All those wonderful children's bible songs are a part of my history, and I can sing them right along with my own daughter.

Thank you, Mom & Dad, and thank you to all the Sunday School teachers, everywhere.


As the family grows, so does the number of birthdays we have to celebrate. With 5 birthdays to celebrate within a month and a half's time, it only makes sense to combine them - even more so with family being scattered. We headed to Kristen and Bobby's place on Camp Pendleton to celebrate Gianna and Gabriel's 1st birthdays and Tyson's 6th birthday.

Base Housing - an archetype of the disappearing Great American Neighborhood.

Long are the days (at least in most places in the U.S.) when kids freely roam the neighborhood, knocking on doors for their friends to come out and play and do so in the streets until the sun goes down or someone's mom calls them in for dinner. Family housing on Camp Pendleton is a throw back to those days of old when neighbors all knew each other and before we became over-taken by fears of dangerous, lurking characters. The military base is a true gated community and there is little to fear when all your neighbors are family folk and you know who they work for. There is a familiar line in a Robert Frost poem (Mending Wall), "good fences make good neighbors", but Frost himself dislikes these words spoken by his neighbor. I probably put up more walls than most people, but seeing children running the streets in the summer night reminds me of how different the care-free spirit of a child is from the jaded, guarded, realist adults that life experiences make out of us.

By the way... there are no fences in this Pendleton neighborhood, and it makes for some good neighbors.

Taylor is the cautious type. Since Kennedy and I are both the same way, she was destined for it. She didn't dare enter the pool until all the big, rowdy kids were out. She went in by herself later, but after 3 minutes and a little water going up her nose, she was done with that.

She did, however, find a fascination with someone's swimming goggles. She didn't use them in the pool and I don't even know if she knew that is what they were for since she hasn't learned to swim yet; nonetheless, she found this pair on the grass and wanted to wear them.

She tripped and skinned her knees trying to play while wearing them.

Some pictures of the birthday babies.

1 year old!

Tyson turns 6!

Gianna loved her cake!

Cousins being silly

Ruth and Joe

I can't forget Bobby's mom, Ruth, and Joe, who kept our stomachs full of delicious Italian food and grilled meats. In true Italian tradition, Ruth makes the BEST Eggplant Parmesean! I could have eaten a whole tray of that myself. It has officially become one of the best things to ever pass my lips! I will be getting that recipe. These two labored for days before, preparing tons of food for our small army. On top of that they drove 5 hours from Nevada that day, and left to head back that same night so Joe could catch a flight! We can't thank them enough for their labor of love.

Oh, it was my birthday also this weekend. Can't believe I'm 29 already!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We Need Your Votes!

Ok, so here is the deal... I created a video for submission into a contest to win a trip to Tahiti. Kennedy has been working so many hours for so long and he really needs some down time. How it works is, friends and family need to vote once every 24 hour period from 7/25 - 8/7. The 10 videos with the most votes go onto to be judged by Tahiti Tourism's judging panel. So far as I can tell there are only 15 entries this round. This means we have a good chance! AND THE EVEN BETTER NEWS IS...

We are the only video that Tahiti Tourism has Tweeted about so far! They told everyone on their Twitter friends list to check out our "great entry"! This means we have the judges' attention! BUT WE NEED YOUR VOTES TO GET US TO THE FINALS FIRST!

You have to register your email for validation to vote, but don't worry, NO SPAM, unless you choose to receive email specials. You can only use one email address and only vote ONCE per 24 hour period, but please vote EVERYDAY. They will void any votes that appear to come from the same person from multiple email addresses.

This video was a great labor of love. I spent many hours making it in hopes of sending my wonderful husband to a place where we can have a room to ourselves. It is the least I could do to honor him for all he does for us. IF YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED IN OUR CAUSE, PLEASE SEND THEM THE LINK TO OUR VIDEO AND URGE THEM TO INVEST IN OUR LOVE!

Here is the link to vote for our video (voting registration is to the right of the video on that page):

Please note: the video is hosted on YouTube, but voting must be done through the link above.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself reading this message more than once. Since everyone I know prefers a different social networking site, and many I can only reach by email, I will be posting this through every method I have of reaching my contacts. :) I apologize if this passes before you multiple times. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Quail Gardens

Admission to Quail Botanical Gardens is free the first Tuesday of every month. It was against my better judgment to go on a free admission day... in the summer. With school out and the new childrens' garden and activity center opened, I envisioned droves of kids and strollers. I wouldn't have chosen to go on this day, but it was the day my S.A. meetup group chose, and I really wanted to get out of the house. I was more than right about all the kids. It was madness. I arrived 20 minutes early, but it took me 30 minutes just to park and get up to the entrance. It's wonderful that the property is large and there are many winding paths that you can get lost in. Even with the as many people who were there that day, once on the trails it was relatively peaceful. I say relatively because I had a 3 year old in tow.

Sorry about all these. The lotus is one of my favorite flowers and this one was just gorgeous. The way the light was hitting it made it scream to be photographed. I wish I could have gotten closer, but there was a pond and about 4 other photographers between us. I had to zoom in pretty far for these shots.

"The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud. The deeper and darker the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms." As it applies to people - great adversity gives us great opportunity to grow into His likeness.

Passion flower - another favorite of mine.
I want to grow a few varieties of these on a trellis or fence someday.

Who doesn't love a hibiscus.

Some people in my S.A. group.

Artichoke & Butterfly - equally beautiful

Taylor talked me into buying a plant.

Since it was one that I was likely not to kill, I agreed.


We found this gem of a sushi place called "Wonderful Sushi". Now, usually a name like that says you are over-stating your product. Put a 50% off sign in front and that says, "word of mouth has traveled that this place is bad". Well, that couldn't be farther from the truth! We went there two weekends in a row because the food and the prices are awesome. We stuffed ourselves with great sushi for less than we would have spent at iHop. And the service there is extraordinary. The wait staff is always so friendly and, even though their English is sometimes hard to understand, they make conversation. Also, they are always so nice to Taylor and try to accommodate her.

The best part was that Taylor loves sushi too! Now, we have spent the last two years of Taylor's life force-feeding her. It's not that she's picky - she just doesn't like to take time out of her day to do something as mundane as eating. With sushi, it's different! She loves it and doesn't put up a fight with every bite. She likes trying to pick up her food with chopsticks (cheatsticks), and she actually did very well at it all by herself. I decided to try the trick at home. Perhaps it would get her interested in eating other foods. Here she is eating her Rice Krispies and blueberries. They don't work so well with cereal.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

Today I made some cupcakes for a small get together we were invited to for July 4th. I wanted to try something new. It had been awhile since I made cake from scratch so I went on the hunt for something that sounded delicious. In my search for something special, how could I pass up a cupcake recipe that claimed to be "famous". And it called for lots of strawberries. You can find the recipe for the cake portion here.

I made a cream cheese frosting for the top. The site on which I found the recipe for that had this to say, "We all know the real reason why cupcakes are so popular. Cupcakes are basically an edible utensil for eating frosting." Well I sort of agree, but really it depends on the frosting... and this is one of those frostings! I could have eaten spoonfuls of this if I didn't know it was a serious mixture of fattening butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Taylor, on the other hand, doesn't have to worry herself about those details yet. I made a couple batches and she got to lick all the whisks and spoons when I was done.

I couldn't wait for the first batch to cool before sampling a "famous" cupcake. One of the steaming strawberries seared my tongue as I bit into it... but it was oh so worth it! These things are heavenly!

Since all three of us have a major sweet tooth, I always have to make an extra batch of dessert just for us. Today that meant I made about 45 cupcakes. Luckily, I only had to decorate about 30.