Thursday, April 28, 2011

There's Still A Plan

I started this blog a little over 6 months ago when I was just sure that my husband and I were on our way to becoming new residents of Texas.  Then a few months ago, we decided that if Texas wasn't having us in any big hurry, well, we would just open up our hearts and minds to the idea that anywhere with warmth and sun would be just fine with us.  This kind of willingness to bend would surely get us to tan lines and high air conditioning bills fast, right?

Here we still are, in the rainy Northwest.  We are in the midst of enduring the coldest, wettest Spring ever on record...  officially.  I finally got the chance to mow the yard when the rain managed to stop for about 36 hours.  There are puddles in places that I never knew would puddle.  My flower pots are actually flooded.  My dogs look out the door when I open it and then look at me as if to say, "Are you kidding?  Would you want to have to go out there to do your business?"  When there is a moment of reprieve and it looks like there might be some sun, the dogs run out to lay on the deck only to return within a few minutes to lay on the floor and look depressed when the sky clouds up again.  We were totally teased by a beautiful sunny 65 degree day last Saturday and then I woke up to rain on the skylights for Easter.  So, yes, I am annoyed.

But then I have to feel like a real horses ass when I complain like this as I have been watching people who are truly suffering with all the tornado and storm damage all over the South.  I have a home.  With flower pots and a deck, no less.  I'm not out searching for my dogs or even lost family members.  So yeah, it is all so relative...

I know there is a plan at work.  I'm just not totally clear what that plan is anymore.  For our part, my husband and I are working the recruiter and ourselves hard, searching high and low for a good job that will allow us to pursue this dream of being where the sun shines most of the time and the cost of living is decent.  My husband is still working hard to fulfill his requirements to become a member of the Property/Casualty Society Of Actuaries.  He knows that within a year he will be at the Associate level.  This should make looking for a job a bit more fruitful. 

In the mean time, we are living and preparing as if we could up and move at any moment.  I am still getting rid of more stuff and making decisions about stuff that I will get rid of the moment I know we really will be leaving.  We are saving up cash.  The house looks great for all the prep work I did last Fall.  And, we are still trying to make the most of what is going on in our lives today, while we are still here.  We will be running another 5k on Sunday and enjoying a get together with friends this weekend.   I am also planning a small event for our neighborhood next week with my neighbor.  Most of all we are both learning that appreciating what you have, even when it's not exactly what you want is sometimes the most important plan of all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meet Kyle

I'd like to introduce you to my brother-in-law, Kyle.  He lives in Utah and he loves mountain biking.  Last year he had to miss out on the first 6 weeks of the season because he broke his collar bone.  This year he was super excited to get going again.  He and his friends all planned a big day of biking to be followed by a party at one of the guys' houses. 

Let's just say that by the time the party started, Kyle was definitely the main attraction.  This was posted on the fridge:

Yup, he broke it at the top of the mountain and rode back down using one hand.  He'll be taking yet another 6-8 week break from mountain biking this year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All The Disney Details- The End

Thank y'all so much for indulging me in my little endeavor to preserve the memories of my nephew's first trip to Disneyland and in turn share way too many pictures of said event.  This is to be the last installment of my series on this subject.  Truly, thanks for the patience.

By the last day at the Disneyland resort, Nathan had really gotten comfortable with the place and pretty much knew where everything was.  He was feelin' quite at home that last morning when we noticed he was wearing the remainders of his ice cream all over his face- yes, ice cream that we had let him eat with his breakfast as we were cleaning out the hotel room fridge.

I have some really good excuses for allowing this.  1)  First and foremost, we were on vacation and that totally allows for eating ice cream for breakfast.  2)  He saw the ice cream before I had the chance to throw it out.  3)  I had been awakened by the alarm clock next door at 6am, that proceeded to go off for over 15 minutes before I could get anybody in that room to shut that sucker down.  I guess there must have been one heck of a party going on over there the night before because these people seemed a little more than hung over.  So I was in a weakened state, what can I say?

It turned out to be quite a stellar day for eating all around when we had lunch at the 'Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque' all you can eat place inside the park right before we used our fast passes to take another ride on 'California Screamin'- the roller coaster with the big loop and the 55 miles per hour.  Yeah, this was Nathan's idea.

Amazingly, we made it through without any encore performances from our lunch.

As the trip wound down, there was a definite sense of how grateful we all were for how well things had gone.  After such a long build up to this trip (with all the complications that my sister had thrown our way, it had been a couple of years since I had promised this to Nathan) we were all making sure to take in everything we could to save the memories in our hearts and know that this was just the beginning of a positive new future to come.

Nathan's Dad and my husband took the opportunity to buy a few more souvenirs that Nathan had been eyeballing, including a flashing light saber and a light up spinning R2-D2.

He used his cool new toys to help him enjoy the 'Fantasmic' show at the rivers of America in Disneyland.  This show was even more impressive than 'World Of Color' had been.  It has the light show on the fountains along with live Disney characters and boats added to it.

Here is a good sampling of the show. (You may want to pause the music player.)

Yes indeed, this kid was happy and satisfied.

On the way back home we realized just how lucky we had been.  The weather for us had cooperated with our plans quite magically, after all.  When we were on the road, the weather was miserable.  Both ways.  But while we were actually at our destination we were treated to blue skies and warmth.  So when we had to take a 3 hour detour to avoid a snowy mountain pass on the way back, I took it as a reminder of just how fortunate we had been.  Plus it allowed us to show Nathan the Redwoods.
One extra stop for some fresh air and a break from the windy roads and Nathan was able to give me the 'No Hurl' guarantee.  To think that car sickness almost got to him after all those crazy rides! 

We all made it back to the comfort of home, safe and sound, that night.  What a trip it had been!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All The Disney Details- California Adventure

Have you ever been to Disney's California Adventure park?  It is right next to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  It is a smaller park that has had a fairly checkered past as far as some people loving it and others hating it.  My husband and I have always been on the 'love it' side as we have enjoyed the fact that it has been a nice homage to the state of California and a good variation on the Disney theme.  Currently the park is undergoing a huge renovation and I hope that this will make for some more reasons to love it.

There was a lot to love for Nathan as he headed straight for the one part of California Adventure that I definitely do NOT love:  the Grizzly River Run ride.  It is one of the river rafting type rides in which some people get to laugh and enjoy it while others ALWAYS get soaked to the bone.  I'm sure you can guess which category I fall into for that...  Here's Nathan and his Dad yucking it up after just missing being blasted by a huge geyser:

Nathan really proved his love of the wildest rides when we were over in California Adventure.  He even liked my favorite:  The Tower Of Terror.  A lot of people can't handle that one as it is a drop tower type of ride that is actually not just a drop, but is pulled down with so much force that you actually rise up out of your seat!  That is my favorite part as your stomach also does that flip thing, like when you go down a certain type of hill really fast.  It makes me crack up laughing every time.  Nathan was also a fan of the Soarin' Over California ride, which is like being in a hang glider over different scenes of California and he loved California Screamin'- a roller coaster that takes you on an inversion loop and goes from zero to 55 miles per hour in 4 seconds, right at the start.

I like the fact that this park is often a lot less crowded.  It gives me time and space to stop and enjoy the flowers, like these ranunculus that grow wild and beautiful.

I also like the way that the characters in California Adventure are usually dressed in non-traditional outfits.

Nathan seemed to enjoy a day with a bit more of a relaxing pace as well:

We finished off the evening with a viewing of 'World Of Color'.   It is a show that involves synchronized water fountains with colors and images projected onto them.  Pretty neat.  Here's a little preview for you:  (You might want to pause the music player.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

All The Disney Details- Nathan's First Day At Disneyland

Yes, I realize this has been delayed for a bit more than a reasonable amount of time.  Let's just say that the last week has been a deep well of fodder for future blog posts.  More on that later...  Without further ado, here is the post and some photos about my nephew's first day in Disneyland.

On the way down to California, Nathan had rattled on and on all about Lego Land.  And he had wondered why we were only spending one day there and three days in Disneyland.  I kept trying to explain and it helped that my friend had sent books with cool info. and pictures about the resort, but in the end Nathan found out why we would be there for a whole three days for himself.  He did really enjoy Lego Land, especially after waiting a year and half to get there.  However, on the car ride back all we heard about was Disney Land and California Adventure.  I had suspected this might be the case.  He has a heart for Disney just like me.

Nathan would declare different rides as his favorite every day and the list became a great source of humor as he got down to his sixth and seventh favorites and then forgot one and had to start over, reordering the entire list!

Once we finally got to the park, we had to take care of one special request that his grandmother had made.  She said he simply must get a set of Mickey Ears.  So we headed straight to the Mad Hatter and did just that.

 Yup, he chose a pair of R2-D2 style ears!

And he looked so dang cute in them!

We had started in Fantasyland and Nathan's first ride was Peter Pan's Flight.  It was so neat to watch his face as he took in the magic.  It didn't take long though for him to realize that there were some more 'thrilling' type rides in this park as well.  We ended up in Tomorrowland where he discovered what I think is one of his true favorites:

And my husband's favorite- anything with the Little Green Men on it:

Nathan was most into the 'big kid' rides, such as the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain.  He also loved the theme rides like the Jungle Boat Cruise and Pirates Of The Caribbean.  Nathan was basically game for anything, even 'little kid' type activities and the only thing he decided that he didn't like were the lines!  That first day, Disneyland was a very busy place.  Thankfully the next two days were a lot less crowded.

We ended that first night with a yummy wood-fire cooked pizza at Naples in Downtown Disney.  It was fun to watch them make the pizzas right there in front of us.

This kid definitely had an awesome time!

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