Thursday, July 24, 2008

Auntie Rose, These Are For You

Auntie Rose wanted to see some more photos, so I guess I'd better get some up. We went to our friends' house for dinner on July 10th, and Sir E had a VERY fun time playing in their backyard. Mind you, this is the child who doesn't like textures on his feet, and doesn't get thrilled and excited around water.

Daddy (The Archer) took his sandals off, and he RAN to the water table, right over the grass, without a thought! By the time it was ready to eat, he was SOAKED!!!! I guess it was a good thing I brought a change of clothes!

If you click on each photo, you will get to see the image in a larger size.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Grandma & Auntie V Come For a Visit Pt. 3

On Tuesday, The Archer had to get back to work, but I took everyone else to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. Mom, Sir C, and Princess V went on the factory tour, while I fed Sir E. We had waited in line for about 1/2 an hour, so Sir E wasn't going to be patient while we walked through the tour. I had been before, so I just told them to go. It worked out well.

While we were in Fairfield, it was 105 degrees! HOT HOT HOT!!! I'm so grateful the van had air conditioning!!! When we got back home, it was 109 degrees where we live!!! YIKES!!! Mom and Princess V went to see Sir C's jujitsu class, while Sir E and I stayed home and stayed cool.

We finished off our trip with a visit to Bay Books, a used book store, where Mom was able to pick up some great books, including a yummy looking cheesecake cookbook, that had a photograph for each recipe! I love that kind of cookbook! Then, we went over to an educational shop, where Mom picked up some books for Princess V's homeschooling, and I picked up some books for Sir C to work on this summer, to help him be ready for high school this fall! We got home, and decided it was pool time, so I took Princess V and Sir C to the pool, while Sir E napped, and Mom and The Archer watched a Christian documentary show.

We (The Archer) grilled thick ribeye steaks and made salad, garlic bread and corn. Then for dessert, I made these amazingly sinful Apple Dumplings that I saw on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Sorry, no picture. They were gone WAY too fast! (Actually, we ate some, and I took the rest to a friend's house for dinner.) (By the way, I used apple quarters instead of eighths.)

It all ended way to quickly for me. I am pretty proud of myself though, because I have NEVER driven in Oakland, and I actually took my Mom and Princess V to the airport! It was a little scary, but I knew The Archer was praying for me, and so was my Mom. I was praying too! WOO HOO! I did it! Yes, I cried at the airport. Yes, I cried on the way home. Yes, I cried after I had gotten home, and had already stopped crying. I miss my family SO much!!!! Especially my mom!!! One thing that my Mom said to me before they walked in to the terminal was "I love you honey, and I'm really proud of you." What a blessing to hear that!!!! I'm so glad she got to see our home and our little family, and I'm glad that she got to spend so much time talking to The Archer, and getting to know him better. I'm so glad she and Princess V got to meet Sir E. They are the first on my side of the family to do so. I'm so glad Sir E took to them so well and so quickly! Mom, I love you so much and I'm so glad you were finally able to come out and visit us. I MISS YOU!!!

Grandma & Auntie V Come For a Visit Pt. 2

On Monday, we went down to Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey. We went to The Barnyard in Carmel, where we visited the best chocolate shop ever: Pieces of Heaven. Of course we made the "obligatory" purchases there, including a box of sugar free chocolates for my diabetic dad. We also visited the wonderful toy shop, Sandcastles by the Sea. Mom bought Princess V something there for her birthday. I can't tell you what it is though, because it's a secret.

Then we had to make a stop at The Bountiful Basket to see if they had any Pineapple Vinegar in, which they didn't. We did get to taste some different vinegars though, and Mom had never tasted flavored vinegars before, but loved them. We tried Blueberry Vinegar, Strawberry Vinegar, Raspberry Vinegar, and Pear Vinegar. The owner of the shops produces her own line of these vinegars, and when The Archer and I went down there in March for his birthday, we bought the Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar, which is FANTASTIC!!! They will be opening up another shop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, so be sure to check them out if you get down there.

We took a drive by Asilomar, showed them Pebble Beach Golf Course (from a distance), drove by where our church has our Women's Retreats (Lighthouse Lodge Inn & Suites), saw three deer, showed them the PG Lighthouse, and then stopped to eat lunch. For lunch, we went to the local grocery store and got some sourdough bread, some roast beef, sliced cheese, and drinks. We made sandwiches right on the seashore of Pacific Grove. It was SO nice to just sit and watch the waves while eating lunch. We had to sit in the van because it was really very windy. We didn't want everything to blow away. After we had eaten, we got out of the van and walked down to the water. It's amazing how many types of seaweed and kelp were lying around on the beach. We stayed there for awhile so that we could enjoy God's majestic creation. Then, we headed down to Monterey. While on the coastline drive, we pointed out some of the gorgeous inns down there, including Green Gables Inn, and Seven Gables Inn. One of these days, The Archer and I hope to be able to stay in one of those two places for an anniversary or something.

So we drove on down through Cannery Row, but didn't get out. We were on a mission. We wanted to take them to the little beach on Fisherman's Wharf. It's a wonderful little beach, where you don't have to trek over tons of sand dunes to get to the water. We carried our camping chairs down there, along with towels, a kite, and a thing of bubles. We took Sir E's shoes off, and let him walk in the dry sand, which he was NOT thrilled with, because of the tactile issues. Then we kept walking to the wet sand, which he REALLY didn't like, to where we reached the water that was splashing up on the beach. I guess I don't need to tell you that he HATED having his feet in the water. The ocean scares him a little because of the waves rushing up on the shore, and because it's so expansive. But we hope that things will change, as we take him to the beach more and more. We want him to learn to love the beach, the sand, the water, just as much as we do.

While we were enjoying the beach, we actually got to see some sea otters swimming around in the surf. We tried to get some good pictures, but they were really hard to see, and you couldn't tell what we were trying to photograph.

Sir C got his kite flying and had fun with it for a little while before he got bored and wanted to join me and his Auntie V, as we raced the waves. The Archer was content to sit and videotape or take pictures, because he has a torn lateral miniscus in his knee, so walking has been more painful lately. At one point, Grandma G got the bubbles out and blew them for Sir E. He LOVED that! We kept saying "pop, pop, pop", and he would mimic us. When Princess V and Sir C saw that bubbles were floating by where they were trying to build sandcastles, they had to find the source, and were delighted to see that Grandma/Mom was blowing them. They had to hop around chasing and popping as many as they could.

Princess V is such a beautiful and photogenic little girl. I really enjoyed taking pictures of her enjoying the ocean for the very first time. Mind you, she lives in a land-locked state, and has never flown until now, nor had she seen the ocean or even played in it until now. I think this was an experience that she will remember for the rest of her life.

We finished off the Monterey trip by heading over to Fisherman's Wharf. We had hoped to get to the Maritime Museum, but it was closed on Mondays, and it was after 5pm, so either way, we wouldn't have made it. But we took pictures anyways. They have this cool little garden there, with all sorts of plants and flowers. One thing that Mom really REALLY loved about CA, besides the ocean, was all of the gorgeous flowers everywhere you went. We got some really good closeups of some beautiful flowers while we were down there.

We walked around the wharf, and went to the back part where you can take rides on glass bottom boats, or go on whale watching adventures. We didn't do any of those things, but we did get to see a seal or two, as well as some sea otters swimming in the bay. Once again, we took pictures, but I'm not sure you could really tell what's in the picture.

We wanted Mom and Princess V to be able to taste a little of the area, so we bought sourdough bread bowls filled with steaming clam chowder, from Old Fisherman's Grotto, a restaurant that has been featured by Rachel Ray on The Food Network, and has gotten awards for the best clam chowder. If you taste it, you'll understand why. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures of the "bowls" of chowder. I was just hungrily spooning it into my mouth. I even gave a tiny bit of the cooled chowder to Sir E. He seemed to like it. It was his very first taste of clam chowder!

Grandma & Auntie V Come For a Visit Pt. 1

It has been nearly four years since our wedding, and I have had my sister, one brother, and my dad come out for a visit. Mom has always had foster kids, so she hasn't been able to come. Well, the Lord allowed some things to happen so that Mom could get a much needed break. I'm sure that it wasn't in the way we all would have chosen, but it was a break nonetheless. So Mom and my little sister (Auntie V, or Princess V...just for this blog) came out for a visit! We were so thrilled that they were able to come out finally. They flew in on a Saturday and flew out the following Thursday, and believe me, we packed our time together with TONS of things to see and do and places to visit.

We started their visit out by picking them up from the Oakland Airport, where their bags didn't arrive on the same plane on which they arrived. Fortunately, there was another plane that arrived right after theirs, that came from the same destination. We went to the house, dropped off the luggage, and then headed over to eat at Chevy's Mexican Restaurant with my mother- and father-in-law. Mom and Princess V had never had Chevy's before, but they sure did enjoy it! Mom had the same thing I had: Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas. Princess V had Beef Flautas from the kids' menu. Sir C had a HUGONDO burrito!!!! It was nice for my mom and The Archer's parents to be able to visit and get to know each other a little better.

We then went to their home and had dessert. Princess V got to jump on the trampoline in the backyard, while we tasted plums fresh off of the tree in the back. After we left there, we took them to see where The Archer went to high school (now in a VERY bad and scary part of town).

From there we went to the Berkeley Marina, so they could see their first glimpse of the ocean, off of the plane. It was kind of funny, because we were standing on this walking and biking path, and this cyclist came through. I had told the others to move over to the side, so that he could get through. As he rode through, he said, "This is a bike path. Other bikers might not be so friendly." Well, if that's friendly, then I can't imagine what unfriendly is! The other bikers that rode through, had no problem with where we were standing. We simply moved out of their way, just like we did for the other guy. Oh well. It's Berkeley, right?

We had to take them to the Golden Gate Bridge. That's pretty much mandatory if you're going to visit the Bay Area. It was a little chilly, a LOT windy, and pretty much as foggy as you could get. But as we were walking up the bridge, The Archer was praying that the fog would lift and the sun would poke out just for a bit, so they would be able to see the towers. Really, you couldn't even see the first tower because it was SOOOOO foggy!!! God definitely came through though! We got some sunshine, just for a short time. And check out the picture below where you can see the "stripe" in the sky. The fog was SO low that when you were at the base of the tower, and you looked up, you could see a stripe where the tower was blocking the fog, and the fog moved around it. I hope that makes sense. I think it will once you see the photo.

We also went to Pier 39 for just a short stop. There were no sea lions to see, so that was a bit of a disappointment. We did, however, make a stop at The Candy Baron to get some saltwater taffy. For me, that's a must, when you're at Pier 39.

More to come in the next post.