Tuesday, October 17, 2017


From the moment we knew we would relocate here, Greg and I set a goal to explore Southern California as much as possible.  We want adventures (old and new).  We want the local's insight.  And we want to take advantage of this area with our growing children.

So far we have a 50% success rate.  The other 50% of those weekends we've crashed at volleyball games or cross country meets or school events.

I think it's the constant sun and warm weather.  It makes you slow down after a while.      

#1 - Julian

Julian is a tiny town up in the mountains west of San Diego.  And their apple pie is famous.  


Ask any San Diegan.  Or Southern Californian.  We were actually shocked at the universal agreement.  But you MUST go to the Julian Pie Company - not one of the several dozen copycats along the downtown walkway.  We didn't mind either way.  The entire town smells like freshly baked pie mixed with the cool mountain air.  It's lovely!

So they have amazing pie.  They also have apple picking, souvenir shops, scenic hikes/trails, and the surprising relic gold mines from the 1850s-1930s.  I was not expecting them to be as cool as they turned out to be.  We loved our tour!  

Cute town.  

#2 - San Diego Safari Park

Greg's work held their annual family party at San Diego's Safari Park in the middle of September.  In spite of visiting San Diego over a dozen times in the past 10 years, we've never been here.  It was delightful!  I loved it 10x more than the zoo.  

We got there early to avoid crowds and the heat.  The whole valley is beautiful!  

In August the Tijuana border patrol caught someone smuggling in a baby tiger (pictured above).  It made national headlines and the little guy was placed in temporary residence at the Safari.  He's completely adorable - he captivated all of us!  Three weeks ago a zoo in the mid-west sent the SD Safari another tiger cub who was rejected by his mother.  So now the two tigers have each other as playmates.  

#3 - Wednesday Afternoons

Every Wednesday afternoon Pretty Girl and Bubbs have a half day.  After the first week, I realized this was a fantastic window to go exploring.  So we've been checking out different beaches, site-seeing and taking in the many many museums.  The SD downtown Children's Museum has been our favorite one so far.

It's already become such a tradition, that Bubbs usually asks Tuesday night as I tuck him in - "Where are we going to go play together tomorrow?"

#4 - San Diego Zoo

Part of Greg's work party included zoo tickets for later in the month.  We caught the last Saturday in September.  Unfortunately, James was out of town.  We used the spare ticket to invite one of Andrew's friends - Eschaan.  He's a first generation American citizen.  His parents are heart surgeons from New Delhi, India.  

We've been to this zoo before, but I have to say this time around was even better.  

#5 - Mission Bay

I've wanted to do this bike ride for a long, long time.  Every time we'd drive to Sea World over the years, I would drool as we passed a portion of the trail.  But we've never had our bikes when visiting San Diego.  Now we do.  Watch out!  Much more is coming...

Mission Bay was so beautiful!  It was around 70 degrees the entire ride and very little foot traffic.  The only negative - and I hate saying this - were the tourists who rented bikes.  They have no clue about bike etiquette.  No warnings when they'd pass you.  You could tell several had been drinking (at 10 in the morning!)  I was proud of my children who have near flawless biking skills and manners when it comes to cycling pathways.    

#6 - LDS Women's Conference

I love having Pretty Girl as my daughter.  And I love that two times a year we get to attend an incredibly uplifting, spiritual-feast-of-a-meeting together.  I get to grow into a better woman and Pretty Girl becomes even more fabulous! 

"You don't...build out of pessimism or cynicism.  You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen." - President Hinckley (quoted by Sister Eubank) 

#7 - Date Nights

There have definitely been several week-day nights where Greg and I have stolen away for a quick walk on our family beach sans children.  We're not complaining in the slightest.  We're going to be doing this as much as possible.      

#8 - The Rest of September...

The dark side of California (the DMV), Andrew is still obsessed with anything Brandon Mull writes, and Pretty Girl's teacher is also an amateur photographer - which means every so often I get these gorgeous snapshots of my daughter.  Can we keep this teacher forever, please?!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

19 Years - Holy Cow I Forgot!!!

Just to underscore the load that Greg and I have been balancing this past summer and into the fall, I completely forgot to post about our anniversary.  Absolutely brain dead.  Wow.  

Poor anniversary.  Poor 19th.  You were as odd and forgettable as the prime number you are.

20 will be better.  Much better.  Because 20 is my favorite number.  And so it just will be.  

In the meantime, here's what 19 years looks like. 

We definitely look a little more...frumpy.  More gray.  More weight.  Less hair.  

But good heavens almighty, doesn't Greg still look absolutely wonderful?!  Not me.  I'm a different story.    

But Greg....  I'm breathless.  Be still my heart.  19 years looks good on you, honey.      

Before I got married, I read Paul Reiser's Couplehood.  It's a brilliantly funny book.  Reiser jokes that the essence of marriage is simply talking your spouse down from their tree.  Here's the equation -       

"You talk them out of their tree, so they can be coherent enough to talk you out of your tree.  So ultimately, all the time you spend trying to understand the other person isn't even for their sake.  You just want to make sure they're ready to handle your next psychotic episode."    

Reiser definitely tapped into a key component of marriage, because that's what our 19th year was all about.

Keeping each other on the ground.  

This was a year climbing mountains we both hoped never to scale again.  A lot of second guessing decisions, foundations, and faith.  And when the pressures were most severe, Greg was always there to talk me down from my tree and get me climbing again.  Always.  He's good at that kind of thing after 19 years.  He knows my dark, thorny trees that snag and stop me relentlessly.  And I know his.

He's my solid footing in so many ways.     

On a final, lighter note, (and this is where I wax cheesy), Imagine Dragons released an album last summer.  It paints a fairly accurate picture of what Greg and I came through during our 19th year.  

Marriage and real love is not determined by length of time - even when it's 19 years.  It's measured every time you reach the top of your mountain and get to feel the "wind in your hair" as you marvel at the view and celebrate what you've climbed together.        

"Do you feel the same when I'm away from you?
Do you know the line that I'd walk for you?
We could turn around and we could give it up.
But we take what comes.  

Oh, the storm is raging against us now.
If you're afraid of falling then don't look down
But we took the step.  We took the leap.
And we take what comes.  

Feel the wind in your hair.
Feel the rush way up here

...It's the price we pay when it comes to love.

...Oh, I'll take your hand when thunder roars
And I'll hold you close, I'll stay the course.
I promise you from up above
That we'll take what comes."   

-Imagine Dragons, "Walking the Wire"

Happy 19 years Greg.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sun Valley

This year in Sun Valley we had 4 days.  It went far too quickly. 

It was a little bittersweet because I think this will be our last year visiting Sun Valley for the Carver reunion.  It's too far from California for such a short amount of time.  

So we made the most of it.   

You won't believe me.  But James actually finished that entire steak.  All of it.  The whole cow.  It was awesome!

Usually, when we eat at the Kneadery for breakfast, we're with the whole family.  But there was one morning when we were solo.  It was delightful to be just us and visit over food from a favorite restaurant.  I wish all my meals would forever and always include those precious 5 faces around the table.    

I hate how fast things are moving now.  James starting high school has made me frantic this year.  There's now a massive mental clock in my brain ticking down the seconds.  No.  Don't go yet.  Give me another decade.  There are still so many things to explore.     

Some of us decided to watch the game.  And some of us decided to watch the ice skating show.  The ice skating show was better!  

Technically we'd only been gone from Idaho for 3 weeks when Labor Day weekend arrived, but there were many moments it felt like we'd never left.  A lot of nostalgia.  It's funny how much this place got into our blood, even though it was only 1 year.  This is a constant process learning to accept change, be strong and have faith in God.     

Saying goodbye was rough.  

I feel particularly blessed to see my children building strong relationships with their cousins and grandparents.  These bonds will be a crucial strength for them in times of loneliness and self doubt.  They will also bring them unspeakable joy!   

We only had 1 afternoon for a quick stop in Eagle.  It was barely enough time to give loves to Anastasia, the Eliasons, and the Stevens.

Dear Idaho...