Thursday, December 21, 2017


FINALLY catching up on last month. 

It feels so liberating to have a working computer!  Thank you to Greg for taking the time over the weekend to back up, reboot and reload everything.  It's a small percentage of the whole that Greg does for this family.  We couldn't function without him. 

So November.  November, November, November.  I hope I can keep this all organized.

#1 - Our Living Space

We are not permanently established here yet and probably won't be for awhile. In the meantime, I am reminded on a weekly basis how lucky we are to be WHERE we are.  For one thing, we have a remarkable view with daily sunsets that take your breath away.  We have enough space for a garden.  And we've tried to make it as portable as possible so we can move it when we go.  

On a smaller level, I love how I can smell a hint of curry and spices when we take walks.  In the morning on my way back from running kids to school, it's delightful to see all the grandparents in their traditional saris and turbans taking morning strolls.  I'm used to seeing Islamic women in burqas and khimars - and there is quite a bit of that here - we have never lived amongst such a huge Indian population.

Our neighbors just had a baby when we moved in and their parents (not sure which side) have been in residence since helping with the newborn.  The grandmother especially is a very traditional Hindu (reminds me of Apu's mother from The Simpsons) and she often stands in her doorway in the morning with a frown.  It has taken us three months to finally get her to wave at us and smile.  I think she was highly suspicious at first.  I'm hoping when we walk over our Christmas gift that we'll get a word or two out of her.

#2 - Grandpa and Grandma McKinnon

Gary and Linda arrived the first week in November - right in time to see one of Andrew's XC meets and one of Pretty Girl's volleyball games.  We took them to our favorite beach, the Children's Museum and Point Loma.

They were patient with all our activities and all the noise.  We loved having them here!

#3 - Early Morning Seminary Temple Visits

This is James' seminary class - all Freshmen divided between three different high schools.  Before the Thanksgiving break, their wonderful teacher scheduled some time for them to be together at the temple.  I loved having the chance to go with them - it was a unique chance to be in the baptismal area.   

#4 - Sunsets and Our Back Yard  

I can't help it.  I just keep taking picture after picture, night after night.  One morning (last photo) as I was driving back from early morning seminary, I had to stop my car and get out to take that shot.  It was too beautiful not to capture.  After a year of being away from our gorgeous sunsets in Brother Cutler's field in Draper, this magnificent display of light seems too good to be true.  It is very peaceful to watch in solitude after a long day.

My Dad and Mom visited towards the middle of November.  And while I neglected to get a single photograph with them, I so appreciated my Dad's garden expertise in pointing us towards the right citrus trees.  We planted four of them after he left.  Each of the kids picked out their own.  Give it another 2 months, and we'll be singing with limes, lemons, grapefruits and oranges.  Right now they're only blooming, but they smell heavenly - a fragrance that's intoxicating.  In the spring, we will look at potting some pomegranate and avocado bushes.  

#5 - Volleyball Wrap Up 

Pretty Girl finished her fall season.  They took 2nd place in their championship - barely missing out on a win for the final game.  Aside from the games, playing on the team gave Pretty Girl a lot more exposure to girls her age around town.  A few new friends.    

I already miss watching her games.  

#6 - Cross Country Wrap Up

Andrew also wrapped up his fall sport with Cross Country.  He reached his goal for his mile run - which was huge for him.  And the shin splints he got early on the season tempered out in time for the finals.  Yay!

He is anxious to try his hand at volleyball this spring.  In the meantime, he keeps up his running with the team 2x a week and bikes with mom whenever we can.

#7 - So Much Biking

The night before I started 8th grade, I was in a rather serious bike crash coming down a rocky, steep road in my neighborhood.  It left scars on my palms, my elbows and knees - still visible today.  Ever since that accident, I have never been comfortable coming down rocky ridges.  I tend to freeze and break hard - a big problem if you're mountain biking.  Anyway, my point in recording this story is since moving here and venturing into mountain biking more than I ever have before, I feel like I'm slowly starting to conquer this fear.

My excellent brother in law, Dave Grant, reminds me that the secret to mountain biking is to NOT slow down.  This advice runs through my head every time I get to the top of a mountainside and look down the path - often times dissected with large rocks.  

I'm getting better. One ride at a time.       

I joined a Mom's Del Sur riding club, which has exposed me to trails around the area.  My top favorites have been Lake Hodges and Rancho Penasquitos Canyon.  It's perfect because I can scout out the trails and take my boys later in the week.

#8 - UNLV vs. BYU

In the middle of November, we left to Las Vegas for the UNLV and BYU football game.

Let me emphasize that we went for the thrill and fun of family.  Expectations for a win were low.  LOW.  So the fact that BYU won - that was a major bonus!  But the best part was seeing family.  

#9 - James and Drama 101

James took Drama 101 for his first semester and loved it!  His final exam was writing and performing in his own play.  We got to see it right before the Thanksgiving break.  

#10 - The Museum of Man and Balboa Park

One of the resident bonuses we've learned since settling is the library museum passes.  And if you dig a little deeper, you discover the museums are different depending on the library.  So now we have cards to two separate libraries and are listed on 6 ongoing museum lists.

Over Thanksgiving break, our call number came up for the Museum of Man.  The timing was excellent. 

We saw the featured, Cannibal exhibit.  It was THE highlight of the day.  You cannot beat a full-size Operation game table - along with DNA markers, sea-faring disaster statistics and a hands-on exhibit about the siege of St. Petersburg (personal favorite).  But the best exhibit was the final one - which made the kids chose which objects were a cannibalistic practice or a non-cannibal one.  The multiple choice tiles included breast milk, urine, fingernails, boogers, saliva, etc.  I have never seen the wheels turn so intently in my children's brains.  Nor have I seen them so absolutely bewildered at which choice to select.  Think about it.  

After the museum, we couldn't help ourselves from renting the peddle bike again which I unfortunately discovered is super, super hard without Greg.  Gah!  It was slow going.  And finally - we stopped by a few protest tents.  Ah, California!

#11 - Thanksgiving

It's difficult celebrating holidays without family.  Even though I love my little brood, there is a crucial missing element when cousins and grandparents are not around.  This year, we were grateful for ward friends who invited us over (Bradshaw family), for neighbors who kept us busy at the beach (Yu family) and for many, many puzzles.

We did have a small miracle at the beach with the Yu family.  Pretty Girl and Andrew had the boogie boards out in the waves - and the waves were huge that day.  Unbeknownst to us - Pretty Girl had sailed about 50 yards down the shoreline and was trying to ride a wave when she lost control and crashed badly into the surf - knocking the board away from her.  While she tried desperately to locate the board (her back to the surf - another "no-no" I remind my kids), a second wave pushed her under.  When she finally came back up again, she started yelling for help.  Thankfully, a dad and his son were on surfboards nearby and pulled her up.  They made sure she got safely back to the beach and then promptly disappeared.  I never got to thank them - because seriously, I would have hugged them and given them our picnic lunch.  I am so grateful they were there and heard Pretty Girl.  

The ocean hasn't been on my favorite list lately.  

Everything Else -