Sunday, November 22, 2009

How lucky am I?

Last weekend I headed to Utah to watch Courtney compete in the Dansport competition, tend to more wedding details with Kristy and visit with Brad. As an added bonus, Kacey came for the weekend with Scarlet and Rhode. It was a wonderful weekend!

Watching Courtney perform was so much fun! Even though Courtney has been dancing for many years, she only started ballroom a year and a half ago when she came to BYU. She just loves it and it seems to love her! Even though I know a lot about dance, ballroom is a whole other world that I know very little about. This was my first ballroom competition and I was mesmerized by all of the beautiful costumes and rhinestones. The pictures don't do them justice. Courtney competed in Standard, Smooth, Latin and Paso Doble. She has quickly moved up the ranks and is currently competing in some pretty high levels. She made it to the quarter finals and semi finals in each of her dances so she was very happy with that. (I'm still trying to understand the whole process!) Right now she has two different partners - Tim for Latin and Paso Doble and Jake for Standard and Smooth. She and Tim won 3rd place for Paso Doble. Yeah! I just enjoyed every second of watching her dance. I am sure that I was beaming with pride!!

Here is her Standard costume:

This is her Latin costume:

Courtney & Tim - 3rd place in Paso Doble. (This was a class competition which means they compete against everyone in the Latin class they are taking. They are not allowed to wear costumes in class competitions.)

Brad, Kacey and Rhode cheering her on:

Courtney's cheering section:

Scarlet was entertained with Grandma's scarf (but not for long!):

She loved watching her Aunt Courtney:

See for yourself how amazing she is! Here are a few video clips.

Courtney - Paso Doble:

Waltz & Quick Step:




While I was there, Kristy and I were able to attend to a few more wedding details. So far every time that Kristy has come to Utah to visit Trevor, I have been there too. I feel a little like the Asian grandma who has been assigned to chaperone the couple! Trevor is probably a little worried that everywhere Kristy goes, her mother follows. Lucky for him, though, I have 5 daugthers so I don't have too much time to hover even if I wanted to!

Kristy's former roommates threw her a shower and it was very nice. In attendance were previous roommates, mission companions and relatives. Poor Kari who organized and planned the whole thing came down with the flu that day. Luckily Randi took charge and simply followed Kari's directions. It was so sweet of all of them!

Kristy had to chew a huge piece of bubble gum for every answer she got wrong. There was quite a wad in her cheek!

Kristy with Liberty and Jen Day. Twister anyone?

She received lots of nice gifts. Some were more suitable for viewing than others so I will spare her!

Kristy is fortunate to have such good friends!

Jamie Peterson (now married), Kacey and Rhode:

It was so much fun to enjoy all of these different activities with my kids. I am so blessed!

Brad and mom (Hey, I actually got in a picture!)

I am so glad Kacey made the drive to be there. I love spending time with her and I love seeing my grandbabies. Kacey is such a good mom. Her kids don't even know how lucky they are but someday they will!

Courtney, Brad and Kristy:

Scarlet calls Rhode "Rhode man" and it sounds like she's calling him Roman. It's very cute and so is he!

The only down side to the weekend was that I came down with a cold. Courtney, Kristy and Brad all had cold syptoms as well. No one seemed to have the Swine Flu so we can't really complain. For that reason, we didn't go and try to see the new babies (Cali's Fiona and Ashley's Henry.) Other than that, it was a wonderful weekend and I loved every second of it. I truly am blessed!

Monday, November 9, 2009

New York in October with the girls!

Still looking back...

In October, I always attend a costume show in New York with my two partners (and friends), Lori and Janet. This year we were able to bring our 3 daughters with us - Kylie, Kenzie and Mattie. Our trip is always a lot of fun but it was especially fun with our daughters along!

We did all the usual stuff. We rode the subway...

We ate at the Stardust Diner where all of the wait staff finds time to sing somewhere in between taking your order and serving your food. There are a lot of talented singers who wait tables there. The food is mediocre but the singing is usually good.

Here is our singing waiter...

Some of us were accosted by the infamous Naked Cowboy in Times Square.

We went to the M&M Factory...

Kylie likes her guys on the heavy side!

We stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman! Unfortunately, you have to be 18 to see the show. Not that we would have gotten chosen anyway! My Letterman trivia is not as good as it used to be when Kacey worked there and I watched it all the time. They ask you questions about the show to be sure that you are a fan before they let you in. Lori and I have watched Letterman from time to time but Janet is a huge liability in this area because she has never watched the show. We usually try to convince the Letterman staff that she speaks no english!

Here are the girls discovering the wonders of Times Square!

We stayed right in Times Square at the Doubletree Guest Suites. It's awesome!

We posed for pictures...

We visited TripAdvisors #3 Top Thing to do in New York (number 3!) which was a visit to the Ground Zero Museum Workshop.

The museum is not located anywhere near Ground Zero and it's not much of a museum at all. It consisted of one small room with pictures and momentos from the rubble. The photographer who owns the museum was supposedly the only one given permission to take pictures of the clean up process. He did this for nine months.

While we did enjoy learning more about the details of that tragic event and we were touched, it felt kind of like we were in someone's rec room and we were looking at their trophy wall. Considering he did this full time for nine months, I would have expected more photographs. The photographer was actually there and he spoke to us which was pretty cool, but he talked more about how he got the shots than the actual shots themselves. It was interesting but I would say it was a bit overrated. Maybe this is the only collection of its kind? That's hard to imagine but I maybe that's what makes it worthwhile. It was okay but I think we all expected something more.

This is a picture of the bus driver who almost killed me.

We had to take a bus to Secaucus, New Jersey because that is where the costume show is held. We were with a group of about 20 people who were loading the bus at the Port Authority. One of the men in line ahead of us opened up the luggage compartment so we started loading our luggage in. When the line of people with no luggage had finished boarding the bus, we were still loading our luggage into the compartment. I was halfway inside the compartment when the bus started pulling away! We all screamed along with a man who was behind us and still waiting to board. The driver came out to see what was going on and the man let her have it in his New Jersey accent that sounded just like a movie character. He told her that she almost killed this woman (me!) She blamed us for opening the luggage compartment (which we didn't do) and muttered under he breath that she didn't see me. We all asked, "What about the other six people who were standing by your bus?" Apparently she doesn't feel the need to use her mirrors. The man assured the driver that he would be filing a complaint. I think she was happy to drop us off and hoped for better days.

We, of course, went purse shopping on Canal St. It's always an adventure!

The fruits of our labors...

We even ran into Curran Redal on Canal St! What are the chances?

We saw several Broadway shows and all at discounted or student prices!

We saw Burn the Floor with Pasha and Anya from SYTYCD. We love Pasha! It was all ballroom and it was so good. The cast were professionals from all over the world. We loved it.

We saw Wicked! We waited in line for the lottery on our first day and I think it was Lori's name that got picked. (For those that don't know, many shows hold a lottery where you go down about 2 hours before show time and put your name in a drawing. If your name is picked you can buy two tickets at the discounted rate of $25 each. Lottery tickets are usually on the front row. They usually allow about 20 lottery tickets per show. Mind you, Wicked tickets are usually anywhere from $75-$200.) Since Lori had already seen it twice, she let Mackenzie and Mattie go (since it was Mattie's birthday!) Kylie was the only other person in our group who had not seen Wicked so we checked back every day and put our names in the lottery but to no avail. Each day the crowd grew bigger and we knew our chances were getting slimmer. Finally on our last day there, with the largest crowd we had seen so far, Kylie's name was drawn! And then Mattie's name was drawn too!! So Kylie, Mattie, Janet and I were also able to see Wicked. It's a great show!

Lori, Janet, Kylie and I saw Shrek the Musical while Mattie and Kenzie were at Wicked the first night. It was a lot of fun. We had purchased student tickets. Then we learned that Shrek has a lottery too and it is much easier to win because there are not very many people who enter it.
Since Mattie and Kenzie hadn't gotten to see it, we all went back and see if we could win them lottery tickets. When you have six chances to win two tickets, your chances are pretty good. We all got chosen for the lottery! We had to turn tickets away. It was awesome!! We had box seats. Lord Farquaad was so funny! We give it a two thumbs up!!

We also discovered a wonderful bakery called Crumbs. They have delicious cupcakes that are way better than any we have tried before and, believe me, we tried them all - almost! One of our favorites was Chunky Monkey which was a chocolate cupcake with banana cream cheese frosting and filling. Yummy! I don't think we tried any cupcake we didn't like, though, we are still trying to figure out why people like Red Velvet anything?

Taste test - round one!

Hmmm... not quite sure. Better taste some more...

Yes, definitely a winner!

Now the biggest challenge of our trip. Getting all of our luggage home and under the weight limit! Somehow we did it!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our 27th wedding anniversary...

I'm going back a little bit and trying to catch up on my blog. At the end of August, David and I took a little trip to celebrate our 27th wedding anniverysary which is August 24th. We honeymooned in Victoria, Britich Columbia. We also went back there on our 10th anniversary but for some reason did not make it back on our 20th. I don't really know why. You'll have to ask my travel coordinator... David!

At any rate, it was time to celebrate 3 years of wedded bliss and 24 years of marriage so we headed off to where it all began! (Ha Ha - anyone catch that joke? It's an oldie but a goodie.) First we headed to Vancouver, BC. We had been there once before about 10 years ago with the Bakers. We went there to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when Donny Osmond was starring in it. It was awesome. That is one of my favorite musicals and Donny is my favorite Joseph. I have to give a shout out to Phil Law, though, who did an outstanding job as Joseph in our local production of that musical. He probably doesn't even read my blog but deserves his props nonetheless.

We drove up and crossed the border at Blaine, WA. We have crossed the Canadian border many times when we owned our condo at Big White. We don't normally cross at Blaine, though. They have a beautiful facility there where they detain innocent people and treat them like criminals. We got flagged for some reason. (Probably David's past behavior at border crossings!) They invited us to park our car and head inside their beautiful building (which I'm sure was paid for by goods that were seized.) We sat down inside the building while they searched our car without us around. Really, is that even legal? They searched it so thorougly that they even turned on both of our cell phones which were in the car but we had turned them off when we crossed the border.

The good news is... we had nothing to hide which was not the case with the four college guys who were sitting across from us whispering something about liquor that I don't think they had been forthright about. Poor guys. We sat there feeling quite confident that we had done nothing wrong which would not have been the case many, many times in previous border crossings as we smuggled things to our condo. No, not guns or kegs of alchohol! They have weird rules about whether you can bring new or used mattresses across the border and leave them, etc. We couldn't keep up with the rules so we usually just said we had kids and ski equipment in our suburban and trailer and left it at that. (The kids were in the burb and the equipment in the trailer although there were many times when we wished it was the other way around!) Suffice it to say, they had nothing on us and they let us go. I was not around to see the fate of the four frat boys but I am guessing the border patrol had a party that night!

Vancouver is a big city with lots of skyscrapers. For some reason I didn't expect it to be so big. It's an interesting city. We stayed at the Marriott (which is where we stay all the time now since our favorite daughter, Kristy, gets us family discounts!) This was the view from our room.

Stanley Park is a huge park in Vancouver. It is beautiful and David and I rented bikes and rode around the park. I know, aren't we adventurous? Those things are usually David's idea and I usually tell him that I don't want to do it and then he convinces me that it is a good idea and I am almost always glad that he does. I just don't like being in new situations and surroundings where I have no idea what I am doing. I had no desire to be on a bike on those busy streets in Vancouver, but as soon as we got into the park it was fine. David, on the other hand, is not afraid of any new situation. He has no fear of the unknown or of looking like an idiot. Is that a blessing or a curse? I really don't know.

Another reason I wasn't so keen on the bike idea? Helmets...

Need I say more?

Here is my fearless leader.

A view of downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park.

There are lots of high rise apartment buildings. Lots of people live downtown.

We came across these rock formations but we could not find any explanation for them. I'm sure someone knows.

Vancouver is an interesting city and I would highly recommend visiting it especially for those of you who are right next door in Washington. After spending the night in Vancouver we took the ferry to Victoria where we stayed at... you guessed it - the Marriott!

Here is our lovely room...

We walked around the harbor and took in the familiar sights. It is so beautiful.

The Empress Hotel is a landmark.

The parliament buildings...

We stopped along the waterfront to watch a balancing act. Guess who they chose to be their assitant? No, not me! I would have been mortified. They chose the guy who is not bothered by any situation... David. I'm surprised they didn't give him a cut of the profits because he was in about 75% of the show. These little street shows are usually surprisingly good but I have to say this one was kind of lame. Although, the guy in the show reminded me of Mitch Poth so he amused me quite a bit.

The guy walked on his hands across David.

Then they dressed David up in a tutu! (Like I said, a blessing or a curse?)

As you can imagine, David was a big hit!

Here is the harbor area at night. So gorgeous with all the lights.

We strolled down the streets of Victoria. Here we found Courtney Street! We had to take a picture of it to let Courtney know that we were thinking about her.

We had breakfast at John's Place. David is now a "foodie" who researches where we will eat. This was a great find! We went there for breakfast and I had the exotic french toast which was french toast made with banana bread that had bananas, raisins and cashews on top with cream cheese syrup. Yum!

The next day we drove out to Butchart Gardens. We had visited there on our honeymoon but that was the last time. I forgot how gorgeous it is. I also don't think that I truly appreciated it the first time that I was there. It's pretty much only interesting to old people or anyone who has tried to make their yard look nice, but if the shoe fits...

There are walkways lined with flowers.

There are walls of flowers.

Even the trees are surrounded by flowers.

But the piece de resitance was definitely the Sunken Garden. Here is a brief explanation of how the garden came to be...

Here is a picture of the quarry before...

And here is the after...

Can you see the smoke stack in the middle right that is the same in both pictures? It is such an incredible place. I just couldn't help but think that this is what the Garden of Eden must have been like! People spoke in hushed whispers. There was a reverence there that was unexplainable. It was amazing. It is so beautiful and so perfect and there is such order.

Here is the fountain that is tucked into the end of the Sunken Garden.

I am going to be so bummed if my mansion in heaven does not have a yard like this that is tended to by ministering angels. (Did I say that out loud?)

Here is proof that we actually were here together. (I hate asking people to take pictures. Big surprise, huh?)

Here is another view of Victoria as we headed out of town.

We had a great weekend and all Washingtonians should visit British Columbia at some point because it's just not that far away. Just remember to bring your passport and leave your booze at home!