Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Clare in San Diego

I haven't seen Clare since the year Bubbs was born.  Too long.  Too too long.

Let me be clear about my history with Clare, because she simply is one of my favorite people and I feel the need to record the story.  

Clare and I met our junior year at Charlottesville High School in Virginia.  We were in Honors English and AP US History together.  Later we discovered we were both on the swim team.  Clare had a killer breaststroke.  Still does.

I don't know what drew me to this girl, or her to me.  But for some reason, we clicked. 

Clare was an answer to prayer from a girl who had just moved across the country and desperately needed a friend.  She influenced me then - as she still does today - to look beyond the face value.  To probe deeper, think more subtly and always always consider the opposing side's point of view.  It's not uncommon for me to come away from a solid conversation with Clare with a mind buzzing in intellectual euphoria.      

After my family left Virginia, I didn't see Clare again until my junior year at BYU during my internship in Washington D.C.  Clare is a Notre Dame alumni, but that particular summer she was home with her family (lucky me!).  She came out to visit the following year and actually attended a Doctrine and Covenants class at BYU with me.  I still remember the lesson and how much common ground we found between our faiths.  And I still have the massively cool, long sleeved Notre Dame shirt she brought me.   

We didn't see each other again until 2007.  By then, I was heavily pregnant with Pretty Girl and Clare - recently graduated with her masters from the University of Texas - was getting married in Charlottesville.  I felt so blessed to be a short plane ride away in Connecticut.

Clare and hubby, John came up to Darien, CT to visit us right before we moved back to Utah.  She didn't know it at the time, but she was pregnant with twin girls.

Then Utah again in 2010, San Diego this year.  It's shocking to realize we've been doing this friendship thing now for 25 years!  

(We have tentative hopes for a DC trip next spring (including Charlottesville!!) with the kids.  Crossing fingers...)   


I don't know how many more times my friend and I will be blessed to cross paths.  Clare is a brilliant specialist on Latin America foreign policy with the Federal Government, so the odds of her ever leaving the east coast are slim.  Just as slim as the odds of us ever moving out there again.  


When I look back over the scope of my life, my friendship with Clare is one of my dearest treasures.  A living, breathing reminder that unknown paths you didn't ever anticipate taking (or wanted to take) can yield life's greatest blessings.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I loved starting off January with the kids on break.  It meant more time to play.  And of course, we did it McKinnon style.  On bikes.

#1 - January Break Bike Rides

Part of the adventure was inviting good friends and trying out new trails.  Pay no attention to the barb-wired fence pictured below.  It's all part of the adventure.  

#2 - Torrey Pines Reserve

I think this has been on my bucket list for 5 years.  Absolutely spectacular!  And we just happened to hike through it on a perfect day.  I've never seen the waves so calm and the mist so cool.  From one vantage point, we even saw a family of dolphins swimming through the surf.  We only had time to hike through half the trails, so a repeat visit is definitely in order.  

#3 - Sea World

We've been trying to make the most of our Sea World season passes.  I can say with confidence now that it's MORE difficult to do this when you live here as opposed to going on holiday.  It's almost impossible to go during the week because of school.  We've reached a critical point where we simply can't have our two oldest boys missing school for family trips - the information they lose during those days is too difficult to catch up.  So we're relegated to weekends and holidays - times I hate going because then it's crowded.  This is part of the reason I don't think a season pass to Disneyland will ever be feasible.    

But every once in a while, we break away and go!  

The passes have been ideal for those early Wednesday school days I get with Bubbs and Pretty Girl.  I'm still in love with these afternoons because they feel so liberating.  It's like we're on vacation again and we can be down to the bay and back within half an hour.  I also occasionally splurge on a snack I would never consider when the whole family is there.  (Don't tell them)  

It was during one of those Wednesday afternoons when Bubbs finally finally finally got up the courage to ride the Manta.  He hasn't ridden it again since.  

#4 - Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach in San Diego can be a bit...sketchy.  I wouldn't go there at night.  But what we love most is it's home to the famous skateboard shop - Pacific Drive.

When Greg and I were freshmen at Brigham Young University (we were dating at the time), Greg and his family took a spring vacation to San Diego.  Back then - unless you had a skate store near you - the only way to get substantial skateboard materials was through mail order.  And Pacific Drive was in the Top 3 of skate shops in the U.S.  

Greg brought me back a t-shirt with the Pacific Drive logo across the front.  That shirt traveled with me everywhere during Greg's mission and after - to Israel, Switzerland, Greece (I have this ridiculous photo of me sleeping on a Eurail car while wearing the shirt) - pretty much all over the world.  I finally had to get rid of it a few years ago.  Too many holes.  

It's not a big deal.  But the store is kind of a little love connection between us.

Anyway, two weeks after our visit in January, James downshifted from his beloved longboard and ordered his first, genuine skateboard.  A Powel Peralta.  It's pretty dang sweet.

#5 - San Diego Temple and Our Boys

When we finally had the chance to visit the LDS temple for the first time with Andrew and James together, I was kind of bouncing.  I don't know how else to describe it.  I felt like I was buzzing through the parking lot because I could barely contain my excitement.  I think I gushed to at least a dozen temple workers - "I'm here with my sons!!"  "It's our first time all together!!"

They humored me.  

But how else can you explain it?  Or give expression to this feeling?  Our two holiest places in the world have merged.  And I was with my people.  My two oldest.  This is a slice of heaven. 

#6 - Video Chat with Idaho

Andrew reconnected with Thomas in Idaho through video chat.  And for one evening, I swear you could see Andrew glow.  It's now happening on a regular basis.   

#7 - Oceanside

Oceanside was bumped up on our bucket list after my cousin talked up the pier and boardwalk.  I think we went during the wrong season.  The pier was impressive.  And there just happened to be a school surfing competition going on at the same time.  Other than that, it wasn't terribly entertaining.  

Still - we got lunch and walked the downtown streets.  Pretty landscapes and shops.  But at its heart, Oceanside is a timeshare-opolis.  

#8 - The New, Blood, Blue Moon

We all woke up at 5 AM (which truly wasn't too difficult for Mom & James who get up close to that time every single day for work outs and Seminary).  But this time it included hot chocolate, blankets, and the incredible view of the new, blood, blue moon.  Seriously, it was exceptionally cool.  It hasn't been around for about 150 years and none of us will be alive for it's return.  

Kind of puts your life's work into perspective.  

#9 - Everything Else

There's too much to say here so I'll just post them and let the photos speak for themselves.