Thursday, July 31, 2008

Judge not that ye be not Judged

I want to write down an experience that completely changed the way I look at life. To me this was a life changing experience, but it could have easily been something that just passed me by.
When I was the Primary Chorister in our ward I decided (with the approval of the Primary Presidency and the Bishopric of course) to start up a Children's Choir. One of my most favorite sounds in the entire world is the sound of children singing, and I felt as though I could teach these kids more about music if we had one. There was a mother in our ward who approached me and asked me if it would be alright if her son sang in the choir. This boy was known throughout our ward as being the loudest singer and completely tone deaf. She said that she was hoping that maybe I could help him and that she would be willing to bring him to choir practise early so that I could work with him separately. I told her that, of course, I would LOVE for this boy to be in our choir and that I would love to work with him to see if I could help him a little bit. So, week after week this boy came to my house early to practise singing with me. I made him the choir president and explained to the other children that the choir president has to come to my house early before the rehearsal to set everything up with me. None of the other kids even knew what we were doing before choir. They just figured he was coming over early to help set up.
Well, the day of our performance arrived and I had all of the children sit in the choir seats for the entire meeting. I had things for them to do (word searches from the Friend and such) and they all sat very quietly and didn't talk. Then when it came time for us to sing, they all got up together and walked into place in their lines and sang the song beautifully. To me, the song was perfect. This little boy was still quite a bit tone deaf but he had improved dramatically. I couldn't have been prouder of my little choir, and especially of him. I told all of my choristers what a wonderful job they had done and then I pretty much forgot about the whole thing.
Well, our ward music chairperson always makes sure that she sends a Thank you note to everyone who performs on Sundays. It is a really nice gesture. I opened her note and I read it and tears came to my eyes. She had thanked me for the wonderful job that my little choir had done and she had remarked on how reverent the kids were in the choir seats and how perfectly they had performed. Then she said that it was too bad that this little boy was in my choir because otherwise the song would have been perfect.
That broke my heart. How could she say that? Didn't she realize how hard this boy had worked and how much he had improved? Then the thought came to me. . . is this what the Saviour thinks whenever I am being judgemental?
Yes, this experience has changed my life. It isn't anything dramatic, but it made me realize that instead of looking at someone and passing judgement, that maybe I should just take a minute and look at the big picture. When I hear a screaming child in sacrament meeting am I annoyed at the parents for not taking them out, or if I look closer will I see that it is the child of one of the members in our Bishopric and his wife is completely frazzled because she doesn't want to leave her other young children in sacrament meeting by themselves? When I smell the stink of cigarettes on someone at church do I assume that they have been smoking or do I stop and realize that they have just worked the night shift at their place of business and they have come directly to church without going home and sleeping?
It's not easy to not be judgemental of other people. I have had to work on this really hard, but I can now say that my life has been better because I do try to not judge others. In fact, it really gets me frustrated when I know that other people are being judged for something that others perceive to be wrong. We do not have the right to place judgement on others because we do not know what is happening in their lives.
Why am I writing this post you ask? Well, probably because my experience happened almost exactly 3 years ago today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I have to say that I am so excited because I am going to the cabin on Friday!! I wrote an entire post on how much I love the cabin earlier this year. It is one of my most favorite places in the entire world. To me nothing is more beautiful than waking up in the morning and seeing the sun glitter off the water, or going down to the dock at night and staring at the stars with my sisters. There is something wonderful and magical about the cabin that I just don't feel anywhere else.
I am both really excited and scared to death about going out to the cabin for the long weekend. You see this year my entire family is going to be together for the August long weekend. And normally that isn't a problem. I work really hard to make sure that my kids are well behaved, clean and as quiet as they can be, but I am not perfect and they are not always as quiet as some people would like for them to be. This is really hard on me because I am always worried that my children are bothering people and I don't really sleep well at night because I don't want my kids to make noise at nighttime while others are sleeping, and so I wake up at every squeak and creak. I am also the first one awake (or when Otto comes he is) so that I can make sure that the kiddies are as quiet as possible. I understand that they wake up before anyone else does and I remember what it was like to not have kids, so I try and make them as quiet as possible. I have also worked really hard at making sure that my kids aren't bothered by all the noise in the cabin at nighttime when the family is playing games. The kids are usually all in their bedroom which shares a wall with the main room and when we play games it can get really loud. I understand that this is a part of being out at the cabin and so I have never asked the other people at the cabin to be quiet because my kids were sleeping, I have simply taught my kiddies to sleep through it.
I have to be honest. Last year was so exciting for me because my kids tried and accomplished so many new things, but it was also the worst year ever. There was a huge fight and now I am not even sure if I want to go out there any more. My mom reassures me that everything will be fine, but I am so worried that I have actually been quite sick all week because of it. I just don't know. But luckily I will have Otto out there with me this time so he can help me with the kids so that they don't seem too bothersome for the other people.
Here's hoping!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Buddies and Milestones

Look at a pro at work! And how cute is Treyden's little dimple??? Such an adorable baby!!

Caroline LOVES holding babies, and Dustin loves getting his picture taken. . . Can you tell?

We laughed so hard when we laid Lee and Treyden down beside each other! They are only 4 months apart and LOOK at the size difference. . . . HILARIOUS!!!

I sure hope that these two grow up to be buddies. My cousin was my best friend growing up and we had tons of fun memories together!

Look how cute the two of them are when they are playing together!

I like this picture not only because it is cute having the two boys sharing Lee's hanging toys, but it kind of looks as though each of the boys is staring at their daddy's foot. SOOOOO Cute!

My beautiful little sister!

Dustin kissing his newest cousin!

What a beautiful family!

I think that Trey really likes Anne!

Yes, even Dustin just HAD to hold Treyden!

Yes, so the last couple of days have been fun ones. It was so wonderful to see Amanda and Dayln and baby Treyden. I didn't realize how much I would love this new baby. I didn't realize how much I would worry about Amanda and how proud I would be of her and of baby Treyden. I do have 9 other nephews on Otto's side, but there is something so special about seeing my own sister become a mother. I actually can't believe how much it has affected me. It was so cute to watch her worry about her little guy. It was so wonderful to watch her hold him and kiss him and cuddle with him. I love that my sister is now a mommy. I am so excited to be able to have her understand this part of me better. I am so glad that she will finally be able to experience all of the joy that children bring into your life. I love that we both have two little (hers is way smaller) guys who will get to grow up together. It was so funny seeing the size difference between Treyden and Lee, but I have a feeling that Trey might not always be so small (he has large feet like Lee did. . . . so we'll see).

The funniest part about seeing Treyden was how small he was compared to Lee. Lee is only 4 months old, but he now weighs 17.8 lbs and is 27" long. He wears 12 month sized clothes. It was so funny to see Treyden laying beside Lee because it made Lee look humongous!!! I guess that Lee is getting bigger because I did try to feed him his first helping of rice cereal today . . . . and. . . . well. . . . I think that I will try again in a couple of weeks. He wasn't quite ready. He also has been starting to go in his ultrasaucer and sit in his bumbo for a little bit which make me realize how quickly my baby is growing up. The good news is that Lee saw the eye doctor yesterday and she said that he is all caught up and is acting like a completely normal 4 month old. That was such good news! I feel a huge sense of relief knowing that Lee doesn't have any major problems. . . well. . . except that he is growing up way too fast for me. I guess that Amanda will just have to keep having babies so that I can just be their favorite Auntie!!

Yes, I am an obnoxious auntie. I didn't think that I would be, but I am. I can't wait until next week when we get to spend an entire week out at the cabin with them. It will be so much fun!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Today, for some reason, I am feeling blue. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's that Lee got his shots yesterday and is now feeling sick. He usually is quite a happy boy, but today he is sleepy and has a bit of a fever. Maybe it is because there is so much to do at home and I am feeling overwhelmed. Maybe it's because I am stressed about money for Christmas (yes, I am thinking about Christmas already). I think, though, that the reason I am feeling so blue is because I am wishing I could be back in San Diego.
It was so nice in San Diego to be able to spend time as a family all day, every day. It was fun to go swimming every evening. It was so cool to watch my children experience new things and go to places that they haven't been before. I loved seeing my extended family and playing with them. I loved having the cleaning fairies come every day and clean my hotel room while I was gone. There is something magical about having your house clean every day.
I don't know what it is, but I am sure that by tomorrow I will be back to feeling fine. . . maybe seeing my new nephew tonight will help. I AM pretty excited to see him. hmmm . . . I don't know what it is. . . . I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A few pics from San Diego (the rest are on facebook)

We saw so many fun things at the zoo! Even though we were only there for about 1 1/2 hours!
We played at the park until it was time to go to the family reunion!
Dustin was smitten with my cousin's cute daughter Adri!
Anne LOVED my other cousin Tiffany!
The only family picture we were able to take was at Sea World

Waiting for our harbour cruise!
Dustin's Disneyland!
This was the gorgeous organ pavillion in Balboa Park!
This snowcone was HUGE!! 2 of them were more than enough to satisfy my family!
In Mexico on Wednesday. We got a lot of loot from there!

Oh darn it! I guess I chose the blurry one! Anyways this was at the Corvette Diner on our first day in San Diego!
There was a balloon guy who made the most incredible balloon characters. Caroline got Ariel, Anne got a monkey climbing a banana tree, Abby got a penguin, and Dustin got an orange Bugs Bunny.
These are my wild animals at the Wild Animal park on day 2
The girlies begged me to get their faces painted and so I finally relented. Oh and my camera died here too, so the other girls' faces and all of Legoland are all on our video camera (it is a hard drive camera) and so I will post those after I download them.
Having fun at Knotts Soak City (on Monday).


My little baby is a HUGE MONSTER!!! I can't believe how big he is!! He is now 4 months old and he is almost in size 12 clothes! I have been debating on whether I should put him into the 6-9 month clothes or just skip to the 12 month clothes! I would have to buy fewer clothes if I just skip a size, so I might just do that!
My sister had her baby last Friday while I was in San Diego and it has been driving me CRAZY that I haven't been able to see him. I am especially excited to meet him because he is the first cousin that my kiddies have on my side of the family. I know that when I see him though that he will make Lee look even bigger!
There are some great things that Lee is doing now. He is talking like crazy!! I have never had a child this young talk so much. . . . maybe it has something to do with the fact that he has 4 older siblings who yak at him all day long. Lee is also the most mellow and easy going baby! He just hangs out in his car seat and kind of whines a bit when he is hungry or really wet, but other than that he just smiles and talks all day long. (He even sleeps in the car seat. . . .something which really saved me when we were in San Diego!) Lee is now starting to be interested in standing, so we have brought out the ultrasaucer and he still LOVES his swing, so we have used that also. I also had bought a bumba at a second hand store and it is so much fun to have Lee sit in it on the counter while I am making dinner, or come and sit on the table while we are eating!
The other big step that my little monster is about to take is that I have finally broken down and bought him some rice cereal. I know that this sounds weird when I say "broken down", but I know that Lee has probably been ready to start the rice cereal for awhile now, but I just haven't been willing to do it because I don't really want to start changing the really gross diapers that come along with food. But, in the end, I really do want Lee to experience new things so I am going to bite the bullet and start with this whole food thing.
Well, even though I had hoped that Lee would be a nice, small baby like 3 of my other ones, it turns out that I got another Otto and he his HUGE!! But, I still love him anyways! So off I go to start my little (I mean big) monster on his next phase of life!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I saw this on my Aunt's blog and thought it was fun - so here it goes - join in!!!
Here are the directions:
1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!
2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses.
If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don't want to play on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, I'll leave my memory of you in my comments

Home Sweet Home

I know I just wrote about yesterday, but I feel as though I need to finish off my traveling posts by writing about our experience flying home. We got up at the early hour of 4:30 am and got the kiddies dressed, got checked out of our hotel and returned our rental car. Then we got to the airport and things started to change. When we arrived we were told that our flight had been canceled due to some mechanical problems. That made me very nervous because Otto has his Professional Engineering exam tomorrow and I have 5 kids and I wasn't to eager to be stuck at an airport all day. When I got up to the girl at the ticket kiosk she said that she had some good news and some bad news and which one did I want to hear first. I said bring on the bad news. She then reinformed me that my flight had indeed been canceled, but that they had reserved us seats on a flight out of San Diego to LA (we originally were going to fly through Denver) and then switch to Air Canada and fly to Calgary. The plain would take off at the same time and get us into Calgary at the same time, but it was a commuter plane and so we had to take all of our luggage and enter at a different terminal (which you could only get to by bus). Heck, if that was the worst news that I heard all day I was going to be happy. So we got to the commuter terminal and hopped onto a tiny airplane (we got to load the airplane from the tarmack which was a first for me) and flew to LA. Once in L.A. we fed the kiddies breakfast and had a little bathroom break and while I was doing that Otto heard our name get called by the gate people. So when I came back they were frantically trying to fix something with the tickets that the other girl had messed up and I was getting nervous because they had announced the final boarding call, and they finally let us board the plane. Can I just say what a difference it was to fly on an Air Canada plane after being on United???? The plane was bigger so there was lots of leg room and the seats had the little TV's on the backs of them with movies, games, tv shows, and mp3's. And, because the flight wasn't full, I got to take Lee onto the plane in his carseat and so he just laid in his carseat and slept for the entire flight.
Once we got home, we breezed through customs, our baggage appeared to land on our baggage cart right before our eyes, and we walked right on out to our van which was waiting for us in our primo parking spot. It was wonderful and almost surreal that the flights went that smoothly considering the rocky start that we had had.
So now our trip to San Diego is nothing more than a mere memory. It was really fun and really exciting, and I totally want to live there, except that I kind of missed my house and I definatly missed being near my sister when she had her sweet little baby. I missed attending my ward and seeing my friends and I so excited to not have to share my bedroom with 5 little kids any more!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!
So for now all I have to say (in the words of Jenna who was quoting this all weekend). . . . Stay Classy San Diego!


Yesterday I didn't have time to write down what happened, so I wanted to make sure that I did it today.
Yesterday was our last full day in San Diego. I find that the last day is always a bit sad because you know that you are leaving the next day and so you keep getting reminded about that. Well, even though I had the fact that I was leaving the next day hanging over my head the entire day I still managed to have fun. . . . maybe that was because we spent the day at Sea World.
Yep, Sea World. What a great way to end a vacation. It's a little hard on the pocketbook, but it is still a really fun place to be. We took the kiddies there and watched pretty much all of the shows from Shamu to the Dolphin show and the Sea Lions to the Cirque de la Mer show. The only one we didn't attend was the pet show because I wasn't really interested in it. We didn't go on any rides (which made things a lot more pleasant), and the sky was a bit overcast for most of the day so that made the day really nice.
The only thing that I really wish was different and that has bugged me constantly since we were there was the fact that Caroline's shyness kept her from being a part of the dolphin show. All day she wanted to go to the dolphin show and she kept on asking to go see it constantly. So we went to go to the show and the stadium was full, so we convinced her that as soon as the show was over that we would go and get seats for the next show (they play every hour). We did that and while we were sitting there, one of the trainers came over and started to talk to Caroline (to see if she would want to be in the show). Well, Caroline was sooooo shy and turned her head and wouldn't talk to him, so he chose another little girl to be in the show instead. I was so frustrated because she would have been able to go and feed the dolphins and pet them and have her picture taken with them and play with them, but because she was too shy she missed out on that FANTASTIC opportunity!!! Aaaaarrrrgggg. . . . .I am still so frustrated just thinking about it!!
Well after Sea World the plan was to go to my Great Aunt Jolene's house for a potluck BBQ. We thought it might be a good idea to feed the kiddies first so that they weren't so ravenously hungry by the time we got there. So, we took them for one last stop at In N Out burger for some milkshakes (yum!!) and then bought stuff for a caesar salad and headed over to Aunt Jolene's. It was really fun to spend so much time with my cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins, etc. My girlies really loved playing with my cousin Tiffany and Dustin LOVED Adri (my cousin Jackie's daughter).
We didn't get back to the hotel until 11 pm and then Otto and I had to pack everything up and load the car because we had to get up at 4:30 am in order to catch our 7:30 flight.
It was a really fun last day. I am really glad that we saved Sea World until the last day. It was a good thing to end with.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I think I got sand in . . . my. . . crevaces!

Today was our full day of family reunion fun! We actually did have a really fun day and we pretty much spent the entire day on the beach playing with our cousins. Because we have Lee, I didn't get to swim much, but I had a lot of fun playing in the sand with Dustin, suntanning with my sisters, splashing in the water with Caroline, body surfing with Abby and with Anne I had fun. . . ummmm. . . watching her play with our cousin Tiffany. Anne thinks that there is nothing more fun than playing with friends, so she had a blast spending the entire day with Tiffany.
It was really fun to watch my little Abby in the water because she is so much like I was as a child. She is like a fish!! Her and Otto borrowed my Uncle Darren's boogie boards and boogie boarded for awhile. They also body surfed for a long time. But I would have to say that the coolest thing that happened today was that Abby caught some live clams. It was so cool to watch the clams try to move around in the bucket. I have never seen clams move before and I really enjoyed it.
After a day on the beach, we all got together for a family BBQ complete with chicken and ribs! It was soooooo yummy! The beach gets a little chilly in the evening, so we were all wearing sweaters, but it was still fun watching the kiddies play Frisbee, and visiting with my cousins and my sisters.
Each family grouping was given the task of coming up with a song sung to the tune of a specific Disney song. Our Disney song was called "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". I ended up making up the song and it was really fun. . . it went a little bit like this:
We are super and fantastic but we are obnoxious,
Others say the sound of us just simply makes them nauseous,
But we know that secretly you all want to be like us,
Yes we are named Lee and we really are obnoxious,

um be little be um be lie (2 times)

When I was growing up you see there's a secret that I had,
My friends thought I was witty but my teacher called me bad
When my friends would sit down on my whoopee cushion pad
Even though they hadn't farted we all said they had.


um be little be um be lie (2 times)

Now we are all here spending time with family
Mike is spending money, Murray's golfing from a tee
Gary's dancing like an Irishman, Darren bikes off speedily
Aren't you glad you spent this time with our cool family?

Chorus (Gary does his jig)

So it was a pretty fun day, and my kids and I are now quite tanned. We are going to Sea World tomorrow for our last day and then it's off to the airport early in the morning on Sunday to go home. We will be home before we know it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun Family Fun

Okay, so I have to start this post out by telling you what I found out today. It's gay pride week here in San Diego. . . totally explains my experience yesterday!!! The other thing I wanted to start off by saying is directed at my cousins. . . I totally miss you guys and I wish that you could all be down here!! Things just aren't the same without talking about Grandma Buns, having Amber direct us in a lip-sync, and making fun of Michelle only eating roast beef and potatoes at dinner. I am, however, excited to be around all of the family that is down here.
This morning we took our kids and my dad and sisters and my Uncle Garry and Aunt Judi out with us to go try this restaurant downtown. It was kind of fun to have breakfast with such a large brood of Lees! Then Otto and I spent an hour searching for a Walmart (not the most fun that I have had on my trip) because I needed to get some groceries and Otto insisted that it be at Walmart (I have mentioned that it is the most magical place on earth for Otto right?). After Walmart we met our cousins at the church. It was great! It was fun to see some of my relatives that I haven't seen in a long time. The reunion that we are at right now (the reason that we actually planned our trip to San Diego) is the Wright Family Reunion. Basically it is for all of the descendants of George and Laura Wright. They had 4 kids Ron, Carol (my grandma), Jolene and Vestal. Uncle Ron had 14 kids, my grandma had 5 kids, Aunt Jolene had 3 kids and I believe that Vestal had 6 or 7, I can't really remember. Out of those kids the people that are here are Derek and his wife and kids from Uncle Ron's family. There are my 3 uncles (Mike, Darren and Garry) and my dad and most of Mike and Darren's kids (with the exception of missionaries and Ryan and his wife) and my Uncle Garry's kids are . . . *sniff, sniff* missing in action also. My Uncle Doug's family isn't here also, and I am totally missing their sense of humor. It just isn't the same without the Ausmus' to liven the place up. From my Aunt Jolene's family her two daughters are here with their spouses and some of their kids, and her son's children are also here. And from Vestel's family I know that his oldest daughter Jennifer is here with her kids and I believe he may even have his youngest son here too, but I could be mistaken (it's rare but it happens.).
So, there are people to play with and things to catch up on, and we did get a head's start this evening when we all gathered at Mission Bay and had a Mexican Fiesta dinner complete with a pinata for dessert. The kiddies LOVED playing on the beach, but mostly they LOVED playing with my cousin Tiffany and my other cousin's daughter Adri. It was actually so cute to watch Dustin and Adri play together. I actually think that Dustin is a bit smitten with Adri and I don't think that she minded being mischievous with Dustin either. . . . I will have to keep an eye on that little guy. . . he may grow up to cause some problems being a ladies man and all! Abby also loved Adri and acted as though Adri was her own little girl. She played with her on the slides and in the sand and directed her as to where she could and couldn't go. It was so fun to watch how Abby interacted with Adri because that was how I was with little kids when I was her age.
Anne and Caroline think that Tiffany is the most wonderful, coolest and exciting person they have ever met. Ever since they saw each other at the lunch this afternoon they have wanted to do everything together. I was worried about how they would react to the fact that they wouldn't be able to sleep with Tiffany tonight, and luckily they were too distracted by the pinata that they didn't seem to notice.
Well, now that we are starting our family reunion we are planning on spending some time getting to know our cousins better. I had so much fun at the Wright family reunions when I was growing up that I was excited to participate in this one. Tomorrow will be a day spent at the beach and playing together and ending off the evening with a fire on the beach. . . I look forward to it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Somewhere over the rainbow. . .

Today was a day spent with some very interesting characters. . . I'm not talking about Mickey and Minnie, these characters were . . . almost as entertaining. . . but not ones that I would especially want my children to be around all of the time. Let me explain.
Today was Tijuana day. The girlies were so excited to finally be going to Mexico again because they had so much fun going to Mexico on our family cruise a year and a half ago. Well, I have been to Tijuana before and I didn't especially want my girlies to have to see all of the poverty that was there so Otto and I decided that our best bet would be to take a tour bus to Tijuana and then the tour bus would drop us off in a more clean part of Tijuana and it would be safer for the girlies. I am glad that we did things that way. (Plus the cost of it was included in those passes I bought so yay. . . bonus!!) It is always an interesting experience going into a mexican market with my little girls. People always want to stare at them and touch their heads and so it is nice to have Otto around to act as a sort of body guard for the kids. Today we had a lot of fun buying some beautifully hand embroidered dresses for the girlies and a shirt for Dustin. We also had fun buying my Mexican Vanilla (the best!!) and some nativities for me (I actually found some that I had NEVER seen before so I was really excited!!). And, of course, the kiddies had to buy some guitars (totally fake) and some little souvenirs for themselves. Just as I was heading onto a bus, the cutest little Mexican boy came up to me with an arm full of bracelets and asked me to buy one for $1. I KNOW that they are not even worth close to that, but I did have 3 little girls and they DO love bracelets. . . and he was SOOOOOO adorable (which I am sure his parents use to their full advantage), so I bought 3 of them. It made everyone happy, and I felt good about it. Mexicans are hilarious. . . we walked all the way down the block and back up and we had the Mexicans shouting the most hilarious things to us. They would tell us that there was free parking in their store (for our stroller) and that there was a special discount for items seen the second time around. We even resisted the urge to sit atop of an authentic "Mexican Zebra" and get our pictures taken. . . .I believe the people in San Diego call these "Zebras" ZONKIES because all they are are donkeys painted black and white. . . sooooooo hilarious!
After Tijuana we went to the zoo. I have to be honest. I am not a huge zoo fanatic. I get bored really easily with zoos and I don't really see the point of staring at animals behind bars. The exception is, of course elephants, giraffes, monkeys and a lion or two. . . .okay and you can throw in a hippo and a rhino and I won't complain. However, I don't have the attention span or the interest in knowing all sorts of facts about each and every animal and their habitat and their surroundings. I am sorry to all of you zoo fanatics out there. I am glad that we have people like you because I am sure that we could all do more to help out the animals. So why did we go to the zoo you ask? Well, because I have kids, and they like animals and I like my kids. . . . good enough reason for ya? However, we did the Megan/condensed version of the zoo and walked in (after showing our passes), went to the children's section and pet the animals, went on the 35 minute tour and left. A perfect day at the zoo, if you ask me!
After the zoo, the kiddies were quite cranky and very hungry. So, I took them to the closest fast food place I could find. It was a Jack in the Box on University Avenue. Now I don't know how familiar any of you are with San Diego, but apparently I was in a more . . . ummm. . . flamboyant part of San Diego. I didn't notice this before I went into the restaurant. You see, I was standing in line to order my meal and directly in front of me was this cute little blond girl. I didn't pay much attention to her until I heard her speak, because out of this little blond girl's mouth came this Latino man's voice. . . turns out . . . .well, I'll let you figure this one out. So, I turned around to see if Otto noticed and he was nowhere to be found, however I did get a great front row seat to these two men totally groping each other in line. Then, while I was waiting for Otto to get his drink, I was sitting with my kiddies next to this guy who was yelling and swearing and being soooo loud right beside my kids. I was so upset that he didn't have the courtesy to curb his language with my children present. And then I was just grateful that I wasn't sitting next to the super skinny guy who was flying higher than a kite. I felt so sick to my stomach that my kids were at this restaurant, and I then I looked at the toys that came with my kids' meals. . . yep, they were tattoos. OF COURSE THEY WERE!!! Normally, I don't have a problem with kid's temporary tattoos, but it just seemed so appropriate that they were being handed out at this particular restaurant at this particular time. I told Otto that they should have some sort of signs warning us about this or something, and then when I walked outside I saw the signs. . . big, bright, colorful rainbow flags all over the place. . . why I didn't notice this before . . . maybe because the kids were crying and fighting and I was hungry, but that will never happen again. I have a few friends who are gay and they never acted like this, but there must be something about this part of town that attracts some pretty colorful characters.
Oh and speaking of colorful characters. . . when we got back to our hotel we found my sisters and my dad had arrived. The kids were so excited to see them and after chatting with Jenna and Kristin for a bit we all went swimming. I didn't realize how much I missed my family until I saw them. I, of course, immediately asked if Amanda had had her baby yet, and she hadn't and so now there are 4 of us down here anxiously awaiting the arrival of her little one.
Tomorrow is the beginning of our family reunion (which is the reason we came down here in the first place) and so we are excited to see our cousins and our other extended family!

Technical Difficulties

Due to some technical difficulties I couldn't post my entry from yesterday. . . I don't know what's up with the internet in my room, but not even sitting in my van would help it. . . so I wrote the entry in Microsoft Word and I am just going to copy and paste it. . . . Here you go!

Okay, it’s official, I’m tired! I actually am so tired that I am unsure if I will be able to make it through this post. I am having some problems connecting to the wireless network here today, so I am writing this post in Word and I will copy and paste it onto my blog when I can actually access the internet.
We had another fun, and busy, day. We started the day off by going to Balboa Park in San Diego. Balboa Park is this beautiful green park which is surrounded by museums, gardens and even the San Diego Zoo. We started off by going to the Model Railway Museum. . .. . can you guess who we did this for? If you guessed Dustin, you would be right. He LOVES trains. . . and especially Thomas the Tank engine. So, I made him wear his Thomas shirt so that I could get some good pictures. I even caved in and bought him a Thomas the Tank Engine whistle. After the museum we went to the Science Museum. The girls got to make these cool things that they put into some wind tunnels and they flew right out of the top of them. After that they played on various other displays and had a fun time exploring the museum. Afterwards we ate our lunch outside by the big fountains. Then it was back inside to watch the movie Monsters of the Sea on the IMAX big screen. The kiddies have never been to an IMAX movie so I made sure that we went and saw it (it was also included in our pass so that was another bonus!). The movie was pretty interesting, but I would have to say that the highlight was watching it with Dustin. He would ooooh and aaaahh at just about everything and it was so much fun to be around him while he was discovering everything.
After the IMAX we went to the Japanese Tea Gardens for Anne. She really loves gardens and is really into flowers. This makes me so happy because she is named after my great-grandmother Nellie Archer who also really loved flowers and gardens. To tell you the truth, the Tea Gardens were a bit of a let down. We were expecting something a bit more showey, but the price of admission was included in our passes, so we didn’t care that much. Now, at least, we can say that we saw it.
After the gardens, we had pretty much seen the museums and the areas of Balboa Park that we wanted to see (with the exception of the zoo) and we had left Lee’s formula at the hotel, so we left Balboa and we went back to the hotel for a quick bathroom break and formula pick-up. While we were there I rubbed lotion on my ever-so-sore shoulders (yes they are burned pretty badly from yesterday). We had planned on going to the zoo, but I remembered how big it was and we agreed that we might want to spend more time there than just a few hours, so we decided to postpone it until tomorrow. (see, I can be flexible with my schedule) Instead we took the kiddies to Bellmont Park. This is an amusement park that is right next to the ocean. We got wristbands (also included in our passes) which allowed us to ride on the rides as many times as we wanted to. It was really fun to go on all of the thriller rides with Abby. It reminded me of being a teenager again. I do have to say, however, that the highlight for me at Bellmont Park was when we got a couple of snowcones. . . . .these are not your average single serving snowcones! They are HUGE!!! We were able to more than satisfy 6 hot, hungry people with only 2 snowcones! Literally these snowcones were probably 18” tall! They were amazing!!! The only part that I didn’t like about them was that I ended up sharing with Dustin and Caroline, so I ended up with about half of our snowcone on my lap. . . .oh well, the memories are worth it right?
I don’t know what it is, but Otto is obsessed with eating at certain fast food restaurants. So, we decided to try In N Out Burger today. Turns out it is pretty good. It was DEFINITELY in my price range so that made me happy, and Otto really liked his burger so that made him happy. He said that he liked Carl’s Jr. a bit more though because they had more variety and their burgers were a lot bigger (the are A LOT BIGGER!!!). It was fun though and I am glad that we are able to do some of the things that Otto wants to do because he is so good about doing all of the things that I want to do.
We finished off the night with some more swimming and then Abby, Anne and I watched a nice teeny bobber movie while Otto studied for his P-Eng Proficiency test (he is writing it the day after we get home). Now I am just trying to get everything settled for the night because we have an early start tomorrow morning. We are going to Tijuana very first thing and our tour bus is picking us up at 8:10 am so I will have to have everyone and everything ready by then. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Splish Splashing in the sun!

Okay, so I am sitting in my rental van outside of my hotel room because this is the only place that I can connect to the wireless network so that I can write down today's happenings.
Today's weather was FANTASTIC again, and we had so much fun. Basically the theme of today was WATER. We spent most of the day at Knotts Soak Waterpark. No one in my family had ever been to a real water park, so I was so excited to take them. We spent the day splashing in the wave pool, lazying about in the lazy river, slip sliding down waterslides and soaking up the rays! Actually I think that Otto absorbed most of the rays because he is looking a little . . . ummm. . . well done! Dustin and Anne didn't really want to go on any slides, and Lee was too young to do them so we took turns doing fun slides and swimming and we ended up all having a really fun time. (I even got some sun tanning in while Lee was sleeping.
After we went to the waterpark, we took the kids to this really great outlet mall right outside of Mexico. Well we were there for about 10 minutes and already the kids were fighting constantly, and Otto and I were both cranky, and it was a little depressing to walk around a mall and realize that you can't really buy anything, so we left there pretty quick.
After the bust at the outlet mall, we decided to go and take the harbor cruise that we missed taking on Saturday. It was nice because we were the last cruise of the day and so there weren't very many people on the ship and it was indoors so the kids got to play a bit while Otto enjoyed looking at all of the aircraft carriers and the kiddies looked at the helicopters (Dustin LOVED those) and the sea lions.
Otto also really wanted to go to Carl's Jr, and I haven't been there before so we took the kiddies there for dinner. All I can say is that I KNOW why the obesity rate in the U.S. is going up!! I ordered a hamburger and it was almost as big as my entire head!! I couldn't believe it! It was fun to be able to do some things that Otto was really interested in doing, and I am glad that we took the time to do it.
Now we ended off our day by coming back to the hotel and going swimming. Again, I had told the girlies about how I used to love going on vacation with my family when I was a little girl because we got to stay at hotels with swimming pools and it was so cool to be able to swim at night because there would be a big light in the swimming pool and it was so neat! Well, the girlies were so impressed with swimming at the hotel at nighttime (the pool is heated!!!) and they loved that they were swimming and staring at the moon. *sigh* I kind of wish that I could move them somewhere warmer so that they can do some of these things that I used to do when I was a kid.
Well, I do have to say that spending an entire day around water has made me a little bit redish, but I am not very burned, just a bit on my shoulders. I am, however, looking forward to tomorrow because we are going to go to the San Diego Zoo and then to Balboa park which is covered in gardens and museums. I am looking forward to not spending some time in my bathing suit. . . why you ask??? Well, let's just say that I feel sorry for the people who have to look at me in my bathing suit so soon after having a baby. I don't mean to punish them, but I have no other choice. I will not let my kiddies miss out on alot of fun just because I don't look that flattering in a swimsuit. I love them enough to endure a day of self-consciousness so that we can make some wonderful memories together!
Until tomorrow my friends!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday in San Diego

Okay, so the kids thought that they had the world's BEST DAY ever yesterday. . . until today! We woke up and had our FREE breakfast at the hotel. . . which the kids thought was AWESOME!!! They think that this hotel is the coolest because not only do they have an outdoor swimming pool, but they give us breakfast every morning too! Otto has also decided this place is awesome because they have a Mrs. Pac Man and a Galaga arcade game and I love it because of the HUGE yellow sign that is lit up on the side of the hotel so that when I am driving here at nighttime, I can't miss the hotel!! Trust me, this is a huge blessing!! And, we also moved into the room that we will be staying in for the rest of our time here (I had to extend our stay by a couple of days because we could only get flights on those days so we had to stay in the other room for a night), and this room has a little kitchenette. Actually, that is the only difference from our other room. We have two queen sized beds, a roll away cot and Lee's carseat and the little kitchenette and bathroom, and that is the hotel room that the 7 of us are sharing. So far it has been okay. . . well, not exactly ok . . . . last night Dustin screamed for about an hour until Otto finally took him outside and slept in the van. For some reason, sleeping in the van was the only thing that worked, and I was amazed that they actually spent the entire night out there. That is way more brave than I would be, but Otto didn't want Dustin to wake up the girlies, so that was the only way, I guess.
Today we started out our adventures by going to San Diego's Wildlife park. We got to go on an African safari, pet some parakeets and some deer, learn about frogmouth birds and play in the spray park. I think that the highlight for the girlies, though was when they got to have their faces painted. There were these booths and they were amazing at face painting, and Anne kept on asking for it, and because I had saved some money by bringing snacks into the park instead of buying food there, I decided that it would be worth it to splurge some money on these face paintings. Well, Caroline ended up with this beautiful butterfly (complete with sparkles) face painting, Anne had a swan mask (also with sparkles) and Abby had basically a sparkly blue mask painted onto her face. They looked pretty cool, and the girlies thought that they were so special because they got these face paintings, so that made me feel as though it was money well spent.
After we went to Wildlife park, we stopped in to McDonalds for lunch. It was cheaper than eating inside the park and it is food that I know that the kiddies will eat. For a long time now, the girlies have heard me talk about how when I was a little girl and my mom would take me to McDonalds the playplaces were outside. I don't think that they believed me, but when we pulled up to McDonalds and they saw the playplace outside, I again became the coolest mom ever! Anne was the first to point out the face that the playplace was outside just like when I was a little girl, and they all wanted to go and play on it. Even though I was very anxious to get to our next destination, I let them go and play on the playplace so that Otto and I could spend some time with Lee. The poor baby has basically spent the last two days and nights completely in his carseat and I do feel bad, but he has been so good that I have been so grateful for it at the same time. Plus, he will probably have to spend most of this entire vacation in that seat so hopefully he will continue to be the calm, easygoing baby that he has been so far!
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at Legoland. People, if you have children 10 and younger. . . . GO TO LEGOLAND!!!! This place is soooooo cool. If I were to do Legoland again, I would probably spend an entire day there because we weren't able to experience the whole park, but what we did experience was soooooooo cool! We went and saw a show and the girls were chosen to participate in it. Pretty much everything in Legoland is actually made out of lego. The rides at the park are all geared towards children and most of them are made to look like lego. We walked through mini land where there are exact replicas of some of the most famous places in North America. There was a replica of New York completely made out of lego that even had a running lego subway and cars. There were moving people and I can't even describe how cool and intricate and detailed everything was. . . . so I took videos of it instead! We got to watch a lego jazz funeral in mini New Orleans and a quickie lego wedding in mini Las Vegas. We even walked by Old MacDonald's farm where the mini lego animals and band were all singing and dancing to the music. . . . sooooooo cool! I had been debating whether or not we should go to Legoland, and I am so glad that we did go. Dustin even got to pose with Lego Lifesized Bob the builder, Thomas the Tank engine and Otto joined him in his pose with Lifesized Lego Darth Vader (they even got their own lego light sabor) and R2D2.
Finally we ended off the day in what Otto calls the most wonderful place on earth. To the rest of us it is known by its other name. . . Walmart. We went and picked up some groceries for the next couple of days and walked around the store for a bit.
Before I end this entry, I just want to say this. I often get teased . . . okay I get teased alot because I always need a plan. If I am going to go anywhere or do anything I have to get everything in order and know where I am going to next and put things into a schedule. Now, I can be flexable with my schedule, but there has to be one in place or else I feel lost and overwhelmed. I get made fun of ALOT for this!! Seriously!!! But today I was so grateful for this little quirk of mine because it has saved us sooo much money and time. There was no wasting time wondering what we are going to do next, and so far we have come up right on budget for our vacation. I have put us on quite a tight budget because we don't have alot of extra cash at the moment, but we have been able to have alot of fun and not really miss out on anything because I have done ALOT of research into our trip before we left. I bought these San Diego Go 5 day Go Passes (which cost me $750 up front) and I was really nervous about getting them because I wasn't sure if they would be worth it or if there would be too many restrictions on when I could use them and other things, but they have just about completely paid themselves off and that is from just using them for 1 day. We still have 4 more days to go before they expire. To top it all off, as we found out today, when we use the Go passes to get into a park, it doesn't just buy the basic admission ticket. . . . it buys the VIP tickets which include extra rides, tours and shows. That has made Wildlife and Legoland so much more fun and cost effective. Since we have been here we have spent less than $100 a day on food, entertainment, gas, and everything else. . . not too shabby for a family of 7 if you ask me. Even though I am a little bit worried about finances (what else is new), with the exception of Anne (who thinks that we haven't done enough shopping for toys and clothes) no one has complained about missing anything (I don't think that we have actually had to give up on anything that anyone would notice) or not being able to do things.
Another day is over and now my beautiful children are all asleep along with my wonderful husband. I always love taking the kiddies on trips and I only wish that I could do it more often. I know that we are making memories that will last a lifetime and I am so glad that we came on this trip.
Until tomorrow. . . and in case you didn't notice, I still haven't found my journal. . . thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We have LANDED!!

Yes, we are safe! We are in San Diego and I will write more about this in a second. I just wanted to explain why I am probably going to be writing a new post every day until I get home. It isn't really because I think that my life is soooooo fascinating that everyone needs to read about me every day, it's just that ever since I was a little girl, my mom would have a journal for us to write in when we went on vacations. For some reason this has always stuck with me and, in fact, reading my old travel journals is something I love to do because it brings back so many wonderful memories and feelings I have had growing up. When I was packing I had thought that I had packed my travel journal, but apparently I can't find it. We are going to be switching rooms tomorrow so I haven't completely unpacked everything, so maybe I will be able to find it tomorrow when I am done unpacking for the week. So, unless I find my travel journal, any poor sucker who wants to will be privileged enough to know almost every detail of our travels here in good old San Diego.
This morning we woke the kiddies up at 4 am. Our flight left Calgary at 6:35 and we just barely made it even though we were at the airport right when it opened at 5 am. It was actually great timing because we didn't have to wait at all to board the airplane and so the kids were great on our flights!!! We ended up having to stop over in San Francisco and it was actually a nice break and so the kiddies were great on the second flight too!
Once we got here and got our van rental, I had promised the kiddies that we would eat lunch at McDonalds. So, I punched McDonalds into the GPS system and it took us to this mall that I had been telling Otto and the kiddies about where all of the hallways are outdoors. The stores have roofs, but the hallways are completely open, as is the food court. It is a really cool mall, but we couldn't find the McDonalds anywhere. Just after I finished telling Otto about how I had had these AMAZING tacos at that very mall about 15 years ago, we actually ended up eating lunch in that very same place. It is called La Salsa and it has really yummy Mexican food for a great price!!
After we had fed the kids we had planned on going on a cruise around the harbour and looking at all of the war ships. Well, the kids were hot and tired and all they wanted to do was swim, so we decided to nix the cruise and go check into the hotel so we could go swimming. We had so much fun playing with the kiddies and swimming in the hotel pool for a couple of hours. I realized how much I missed swimming in outdoor pools. When I was a little girl we lived in Texas and I used to swim in outdoor pools all the time, but in Canada it just doesn't make sense to have outdoor pools, so they are all indoors. It just isn't the same and having the sun warm the water and then getting out of the pool and not freezing your butt off! The girlies thought that it was cool that I used to swim in swimming pools like this one when I was a little girl. They really like hearing about what I used to do when I was a little girl, and I enjoy telling them, so I think that it works out well!
After swimming for awhile, Otto and I decided that we should take the kids out for dinner at this really cool restaurant called the Corvette Diner that I had found out about in my research about San Diego. This place was really cool and the entire restaurant was a 50's theme. When I walked in the doors, I realized that I had also been here about 15 years ago when I came on a choir tour. We had sung at a Jewish synagogue and then afterwards we went there. It brought back a lot of cool memories for me, but I also think that we made a few tonight. You see the kiddies really had been awake since 4 am, and so by the time we were seated (after waiting for almost an entire hour) they were pretty sleepy. Otto and I were trying to get them to wake up and have some fun by dancing to the music and singing all of the 50's and 60's era songs that the DJ was playing. The kiddies were good sports, but they weren't really into it. . . .and then entered the balloon man! I have see TONS of balloon art, but this guy was INCREDIBLE!!! He made each of the kiddies something unique. Abby got a cool penguin inside of a heart. Anne got a monkey climbing up a banana tree to reach a bunch of bananas that were dangling from the tree (seriously!!), Caroline got an Ariel balloon art (yep, like the Little Mermaid), and Dustin got an orange Bugs Bunny. I, of course, took TONS of pictures, and if I get a chance, I will upload a few because this place was COOL!!!!
So we haven't even been here 24 hours and already the kids think that San Diego is the coolest place on the face of the earth! Wait until tomorrow. . . we are going to Wildlife National Park and LEGOLAND, so I pretty much will be the BEST MOM EVER!!!
Anyways for you family members and friends who have taken the time to read this, know that we love you and we really wish that you were here with us because it's always more fun to do things like this with people that you love. The kids are all exhausted and everyone is asleep in this room except for me, but I needed to make sure that I wrote this all down so that my kiddies can look back on this day and remember how much fun we have already had together.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Through my daughters' eyes.

I was reading my friend's blog today and she asked her girls a bunch of questions about how they see her. Her answers were adorable, so I thought I might do the same thing. I asked my kids basically the same questions and I was intrigued by their answers. It is amazing how differently they see me. Well, take a look at their answers. Here is the code so that I can save my fingers from a bit of typing:
A = Abby (she's 8)
N = Anne (her first name is Nellie and she's 7)
C = Caroline (my Monkey is 4)

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
A- I Love You
N - Be obedient
C - Get out of my room!

2. What makes Mommy happy?
A - Cleaning
N - Our room Clean
C - Help her

3. What makes Mommy sad?
A - When we fight
N - Don't clean our room
C - Not helping her

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
A - Telling me jokes
N - Being silly
C - Being silly

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
A - I don't know
N - *laughs* . . . .like me?
C - Asking you mom if you can play with her?

6. How old is Mommy?
A - 29
N - 29
C - How old is you right now? I not know how old is you!!! . . . 5?

7. How tall is Mommy?
A - um . . . *laughs* . . . I don't know
N - 29 inches?
C - Big

8. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
A - Cook
N - Cook
C - Play with me

9. What does Mommy do when you're not around?
A - clean
N - Do our laundry?
C - Do stuff by herself

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
A - Money
N - I don't know . . . you'll be on T. V.?
C - Being nice to me

11. What is Mommy really good at?
A - Cooking
N - Cooking
C - Playing with me

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
A - Drawing? (so true!!)
N - Going outside
C - Not playing with me

13. What does Mommy do for a job?
A - Scrapbooking
N - Help
C - Ask the kids to help her

14. What's Mommy's favorite food?
A - This is hard. . . . spaghetti?
N - Chicken Pot Pie!!!!!!!!!
C - Macaronies

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
A - That she helps me
N - She loves us
C - Helping her

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
A - Lola Bunny (we both giggle)
N - Donald Duck
C - Still my mommy

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
A - Shop
N - Cook
C - Help each other

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
A - I have the same face shape as you
N - I don't know . . . what was it again? . . . we have the same face
C - Do what us doing

19. How are you and Mommy different?
A - You don't have freckles all over your face
N - We don't do the same things
C - Not being the same

20. How do you know that Mommy loves you?
A - Because she gets presents for us when we're going on a cruise?
N - Sometimes she goes out with us
C - I help her lots

21. What is the most favorite thing your mommy has done for you?
A - Let's see . . .that's a hard one. . . she gets me treats
N - Going to take us to San Diego
C - Helping me.

Well there you have it. . . I think that Caroline likes to say the word "helping". This was fun! I am glad that the girlies answered these questions for me. And P.S. they are all standing here watching me type their answers and reading it out loud. . . .it is making it VERY hard for me to concentrate. . . especially because they are not all reading the same words at the same time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Okay, so I just finished digitally scrapbooking my latest album and it said that I could embed it into a webpage. So, I am going to try. I am not very good at these types of things, so hopefully it will work. . . okay. . . here it goes!!

Alright, so it didn't work. . . how about this link??

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Likes to PARTY????

Old friends catching up on life.
Visiting in the dining room.
The basketball tournament.
Party animals in full function.
The birthday girl.

This is a rare sight, so I thought I should capture it on film.
More party animals.
My Rock Star Grandma!!
Big Rich and the birthday girl.

Trouble!!! With a Capital "T"
The kitchen staff.

There were even prizes to be won! Dibs on the chicken skewers!
My little bartender (non alcoholic of course!)
Puttin' it up in the golf room!

We had a cruise theme going for the party. It wasn't a surprise party, but my mom didn't have to do any of the work. I hope that she enjoyed it because I sure had a good time!

Food pics

My first attempt at carving fruit. I think that this just might become my new hobby!
Who doesn't love chocolate dipped strawberries????
My Dad helped me out by grilling the skewers!
The Buffet.

This was me wearing the famed "Onion Goggles" getting ready for the party.
Profiteroles!! YUM!!!
A Small Fruit Platter
Chicken Skewers
I didn't make this cake, I had it made for my mom. I was REALLY happy with how it turned out.
We had a drink bar also that Jason and Jenna ran for me. It was really fun. The food was ALOT of work and I couldn't have done it without Kristin! But in the end it was worth it and I think that my mom LOVED it!!!