Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A tale of sand and walnuts

I love going to the beach, but I hate the aftermath. To put it simply, I hate sand. I've felt this way for a while. When we lived in the married student housing at the University of Utah the playground in the courtyard was one giant sandbox, with the result that the girls got a bath every night. It's a wonder the pipes didn't back up with all that sand in all those bathtubs.

But you can't go to southern California in beautiful weather and not go to the beach. I think there's a law somewhere. So of course we had to make a trip to Newport Beach. As an added bonus, Chris's grandparents happened to be staying right near the beach, so we got to spend the day with them, as well.

And as for the causes of all my sand-related stress, well, take a look at these pictures:

That sand doesn't just stay in the same place while the tide rushes in around her.

And riding those waves doesn't, contrary to Vicki's belief, remove all the sand from one's body and/or swimsuit.

And then there's Ellie. Oh, Ellie. The girl who was thrilled to be in the water (I think she was supposed to be a fish, but I'm grateful for the mixup) was also happy rolling around, quite literally, in the sand.

See how her skin sparkles ever so slightly in the sunlight? No, she's not a vampire. Just really, really sandy.

In case that picture's not enough proof for my hate of the stuff, check this out:


'Nuff said.

-------------------------------------

We were also fortunate enough to be able to visit Walnut Village, which is what Chris has been working on for the past 4 years.


I wish I had more pictures of how awesome this place is.  I got to see it last July, when it was nothing but concrete and framing, so the difference was astounding.  When I get old I want to live here, and not just because my hubby was the architect (well, one of the architects.)  Not only are the aparments reeeeally nice, but there are all kinds of great amenities on site, like a bistro, an art studio (old people throwing pots!  How awesome is that!), a salon (called The Strand, heh), a full-service dining room so you can feel like you're eating in a fancy restaurant every night of the week, a little pub, a library, a gym, and a pool.  Woohoo!

Here's a picture of the man himself, standing behind the main desk:

I really like the glass sculptures on the wall behind him.  That's why we took the picture there, of course.  In fact, the artwork throughout all three floors is superb.  I would have loved to just wander and explore, but of course you can't do that with three girls who get bored easily.  Although they liked the toys in the memory care wing.  They had baby dolls and dress up clothes for the little old grandmas to play with, which the girls thought was both hilarious and completely appropriate at the same time.

It was great to see what Chris has been giving his life to these past years.  And it's almost finished!  People are moving in!  I'll have my husband back!  Hooray for Walnut Village!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banned Books Week



My good friend Angie wrote a post about this year's Banned Books Week (I stole your image, Angie - it was too awesome not to - hope you don't mind!)  Although I could never claim to be as prolific a reader as she is, I still love it.  I am seldom without a book.  If I don't have something new to read, I will revisit old friends.  I firmly believe that you can't read a book too many times, and I have, thankfully, passed that belief on to at least one of my children.

I also firmly believe that there is no reason why books should be banned or challenged.  We are all blessed with the ability to make good, informed choices for ourselves.  I am raising three readers (well, okay, to be honest: one truly voracious reader, one semi-interested reader, and one who can't actually read yet, but in this house and with these parents, regardless of their interest level there's no escape from reading - it's just what we do) and therefore have an interest in making sure that they have a variety of reading experiences available to them.  Not everything we read needs to agree with our own personal ideals, beliefs, or convictions.  What a dull world that would be!  And while I will not allow them to read things that are beyond their maturity level, by allowing my girls to read books about topics outside their own experiences, I'm inviting them to learn about the differences in our world and, hopefully, opening the door for some great discussions.

So I'm writing this post to share my thoughts with you all, which are: if you don't like the looks of a book, don't read it, but please, please, please, don't judge a book by its cover!  You never know what value might be inside until you've experienced it for yourself.

Just Say No to banning books!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Royal Adventure: A Bedtime Story

Once upon a time in a faraway land there were three beautiful princesses. One day their parents, the King and Queen, announced that they were to take a journey to a Magic Kingdom far, far away.



The princesses patiently (mostly) awaited the great day when they would being their grand adventure.  The King set out first, promising to meet the Queen and Princesses at their destination. They boarded a magical flying coach, where they enjoyed fancy beverages and individually packaged snacks served to them by the friendliest attendants in the skies, and eagerly spread their new stories, crayons, and coloring books on the fancy tray tables to help them pass the time.  The magical royal potties on the flying coach also provided excellent diversion.

Upon their arrival in the new land, they were met, as promised, by the handsome King in a wonderfully large rental chariot and taken to the castle that would become their home away from home. They were soon joined by the Royal Grandparents, and the adventures began in earnest.

Being environmentally conscious princesses, the next morning they walked the short distance to the Magic Kingdom.

Once there, they discovered it truly is the happiest place on earth, and they spent two glorious days enjoying the local attractions.

Their first stop was a fast-paced journey around and through the Matterhorn Mountain, where they narrowly escaped an attack by a frightening snow monster. This ride proved to be an immediate hit with Princess Vicki, but was not enjoyed as much by Princesses Lexi or Ellie. However, permanent scarring was avoided by a journey through It’s a Small World, and crisis was averted.

As is customary for visiting Princes and Princesses, they attempted to pull the enchanted sword from the stone, but, alas, did not succeed (unlike their uncle, Prince Robbie, who did actually succeed back in the late 80’s and was so surprised that he promptly dropped the sword back into the stone. Robbie, if you have that picture, I’d LOVE to see it again.)

They even met a couple of fairies.


Among the other attractions they visited were the Teacups, renowned far and wide for their nausea-inducing fun,

the psychedelically blacklit Peter Pan’s Flight, the Royal Grandfather-soaking Splash Mountain, that magical journey into space known as Star Tours, and they even did battle with the Pirates of the Caribbean. They also visited the Royal Grandmother’s childhood love, the Magic Tiki Room, and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, which became Princess Ellie’s favorite.

Fortunately for the princesses, at this time of year the Magic Kingdom is not a bustling place, so they were able to enjoy many, many attractions. The Queen, who had been to this wonderful Kingdom many times in her childhood, was shocked to find that the wait for attractions such as Star Tours and Pirates of the Caribbean was no longer than 5 minutes. Unfortunately, however, it was also the season for minor repairs, and so the thrilling Space Mountain and the chilling Haunted Mansion were closed.

The second day the princesses ventured outside the Magic Kingdom to explore the neighboring California Adventure, where they were able to visit A Bug’s Land and Soarin’ Over California, have a good old western shootout in Toy Story Mania, and Princess Vicki experienced  the thrills of California Screamin’.








This is also the land where they were fortunate enough to dine with several other princesses.

Following this royal feast, there was time for a few more royal attractions, an amazing fireworks show, and the purchase of royal souvenirs (a baby Simba for Princess Ellie, a baby Pongo and a personalized parasol for Princess Lexi, and a lightsaber for Princess Vicki) before the princesses had to return to the royal castle and recover from their adventures.



Stay tuned for more installments of The Adventures of the Three Princesses, including A Day at the BeachA Visit to Walnut Village, and Shamu Loves to Splash: a Sea World Adventure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday


Wasn’t last week’s Random Thoughts great? And isn’t my brother awesome? I was blessed with fabulous siblings. We had our share of squabbles, but really, we always got along really well. Awhile back, when I featured my mom on Mother’s Day, I threatened family members to feature them at random times. I guess this probably counts for Robbie, but everyone else better be on guard. You never know...

Oh, and in case you missed it in the comments, here’s Robbie’s promised “embarrassing” story about me.  Ha! Not so embarrassing.  I love that picture! And I love that even at age 7 he was already weird.

Our whole California trip was awesome. I will bore you all with a post devoted entirely to it in the next couple of days, complete with pictures, of course. But I will highlight it here for you. We did two days at the Disney parks and discovered some awesome new rides, as well as most of the old favorites. We got our pictures taken with a whole slew of characters, and we managed to make it through both days with only minor meltdowns. We also spent a day at the beach, an afternoon touring Chris’s fabulous and almost completed (thank every deity imaginable) project, and a day at Sea World, where we learned the true meaning of the term “soak zone”. We had a great time.

Now I just need to get back into the swing of things. Blah. Why does life have to just keep on being busy?

I like blogger’s new image uploader.

Is there a support group for obsessive hoarders of empty peanut butter jars? I keep washing them and squirreling them away in the garage, just in case. Just in case what, I don’t know, but if it happens, I’ll have plenty. It can’t be healthy. But I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

It’s so nice to come home to a clean house. I just wish it would stay that way.

I’m glad today is Thursday and not Monday. I already need a weekend. Even if it's already busy.

Jen of Cake Wrecks is coming to Portland tomorrow night for her book tour. I want to go, but with three kids in tow? Probably not going to happen. Bummer.

I really don’t feel like being productive today.

I changed my blogger password before I gave Robbie access to my blog, and now I keep forgetting and trying to type the old one. I guess I should change it again, because otherwise I might wake up one morning to find out that he’s hijacked the whole thing. Because I wouldn’t put it past him. Brothers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

Surprise!  I bet you all thought there’d be no Random Thoughts today, since I’m out of town.  But I decided rather than skip a week I’d invite a special guest blogger to post some random thoughts of his own.  I’ve invited my not-so-little little brother Rob (see, I called you Rob!) to take my place today.  He’s always been a good friend to me (we kept each other alive during the first few months when our family moved to England) and he keeps me in stitches with his somewhat bizarre sense of humor.  Some day I’ll devote a whole post to him and the films he and his buddies made under the name “Erroneous Entertainment”.  He has his own incredibly random blog at rtbd.wordpress.com, stop on by and visit him.  And enjoy whatever randomness he has to bring you today, while I enjoy the wonderful Magic Kingdom! -Allison

Hi everybody!  This is me, with my wife!:

It's an honor to do Allie's Random Thoughts Thursday, and I'm flattered to be trusted with it.  And when I'm done with it, I'll never be trusted again, insert sinister laughter and ominous music/lighting here.  Just kidding.  Or is he?

My family & anyone who knew me before I was 14 calls me Robbie, everyone else calls me Rob (hence, the "not-so-little-brother Rob (see, I called you Rob!)" comment above.  If you ever don't know which one to use, just say "Hey theerrrre.... buddy," or "Heeeyyy... buckaroo."  Brian Regan.

Let's not kid ourselves, most--if not all--of you are here to read Allie-related content, not mine.  So, I thought I'd post a few of my favorite pictures of Allie's girls here at the beginning.  Here's one taken at Marie Callender's a bunch of years ago.  I love Vicki's smile in this:

Here's Lexi eating crackers on the front lawn of my parents' old house (sorry about my scanner quality):


And I know this one's already on Facebook but it's just awesome enough for me to post here as well:

I was also going to start this out by pretending to be Allison, and typing stuff like "you know who my favorite person is?  My brother Rob!  He's the greatest!" and other funny stuff, but then Allie emailed me the thing to put at the beginning, thus foiling my plan/joke. 

Today is my wife Rebecca's birthday!  Everyone wish her a happy birthday on her blog!  You can do it in the comments for the post linked to this sentence!  I don't care if you don't know us!  Do it!  Yaaay!  DO IT NOW!!  Yaaay!

I'm excited to hear about how things go with Allie, Chris and the kids at Disneyland.  Does anyone remember if they were going to go twice or just once?  Once might be enough, I don't know. 

My favorite ride at Disneyland is Splash Mountain.  I've never been to Disney World.  Or Tokyo Disney. 

Once when I was 13 (while we still lived in England), my family went to EuroDisneyland along with the Bledsoe family.  As soon as we got there I ran up Main Street as fast as I could, way ahead of everyone else.  This resulted in me being lost in EuroDisneyland for over 7 hours.  What a doof!  It wasn't until 5pm that I was found by chance walking around somewhere near Tomorrowland.  I had only gone on five rides (not as fun by yourself, trust me).  It hadn't even occurred to me to find some kind of authority figure; I just assumed I'd find people eventually.  Don't get lost when you go to places, kids. 

I had thought about calling this "Robdom Thoughts Thursday," but then I decided not to.  But then I decided to type it here anyway. 

I work in an office.  My shoes got real dirty from doing this, so I've been wearing flip-flops to work for the past week.  That would probably be a big deal if this was a fancy "hey let's all wear suits" office, but it's more of a business casual, "we're all friends here" office, and I'm on a creative team, so it's not like I'm being rebelious.


Why don't I ever feel like exercising or doing anything productive in general until 10pm or later?  (And doesn't that sound like something Allie would type?  zing!  heh heh)

In a way, it's a lot of pressure to write this post, because I'm hardly familiar with this audience at all!  Mostly a bunch of girls Allie's age, probably with kids.  I don't even have kids yet!

Anyone ever go to icanhascheezburger.com?  Up until a few weeks ago I never, never in my life thought I would find it amusing to look at lolcats.  For crying out loud.  I'm a grown man.  But look at this.  And this.  Or this.  Is this stuff funny in and of itself?  Or is its existence + my looking at it = some kind of ironic funny?

Now for some shameless plugs: my company recently released a video about changing human behavior, based on research.  Specifically, it deals with trying to get kids to remember to wash their hands!  (Flu season, anyone?)  I did about half of the shooting, most of the graphics, and almost all of the editing.  It was a doozy to put together, and now it's done!  You can always find it here, check it out:
http://www.crucialskills.com/2009/09/all-washed-up/

Well thanks everyone, this was fun.  Check us out at our blogs: this is my wife's blog, and this is my blog.  My blog has been described to me as being "weird."  I did not disagree.  Lately I've been trying to make it more accessible, but not so accessible that it loses its sense of wonder, and enchantment.  And also, intrigue. 

I was trying to think of an embarrassing story I could tell about Allie from our childhood, but I can't think of anything right now.  She's a great sister.  If I think of something I'll put it in the comments to this post.  I promise to have something by.... Monday, so check back then. 

_Rob

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Now what are you gonna do?

I'm going to Disneyland!!!
(I'm not trying to brag or anything, you know.  Okay, so maybe just a little bit.  But I'm also just really really really REEEEEEALLY looking forward to this trip!  Disneyland was a huge part of my childhood, and it's been almost 10 years now since I've been.  I may actually be more excited than the girls.  Wish me luck hauling five bags, three girls, two carseats and a stroller through the airport, and if I survive that I'll be back in a week!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

We leave for our Disneyland Dream Vacation in less than a week and I’m starting to panic. I hate all the packing and getting ready. It’s exciting to get be going somewhere, but the actual getting ready is just a major pain.

My in-laws are dropping in tomorrow afternoon for a semi-surprise one-day-only visit. It’s a semi-surprise because Chris and I know about it but the girls don’t, and it’s for one day only because they’re on a cruise on the Columbia River and disembark in Portland tomorrow afternoon. Their flight home isn’t until Saturday morning, though, so they’re dropping by to see the girls (we’d be fooling ourselves to think they’re coming to see Chris or myself) and take us to dinner. We didn’t tell the girls because we love surprising them like this. It’s the good kind of screaming.

I made more salsa today. That’s 16 pints, total. And it’s sooooo good. And now the tomatoes are pretty much gone :(

Add to all that salsa the seven 8-oz. jars of bruschetta-in-a-jar, and five 4-oz. jars of lemon-sage mustard, and I think we’re pretty awesome.

Now my fingers smell like garlic and cilantro. But I wore a baggie on my hand, so no jalapeƱo burning.

Today I walked home from school with six little girls in tow – my three plus three extras to babysit. One is Vicki’s age, one is Ellie’s age, and one just turned 2. And a man sitting on his front porch with his dog asked if they were all mine. Do I look crazy to you?

I love that I can buy two cookies at Target for $1. Makes a great bribe for good behavior.

I’ve come to the realization that when the kids are quiet the house is being de-cleaned. Except that that can also happen when they’re being loud.

Although I appreciate the fact that she’s spreading some beauty in the world and cheering people’s days, sometimes I wish that the dumpster-diving flower lady on the way to school would find a new hobby. We only have so many vases.

Why doesn't Blogger's spell check recognize contractions?

Why is it that I know I have so much to do before tomorrow afternoon, and yet I feel the urge to do nothing except sit on the couch with a big bowl of ice cream and channel surf?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Maybe I'll throw a party

Two years ago I decided to jump on a bandwagon, and Three is a Magic Number was born. At first I thought it would just be somewhere to put pictures and tell silly stories about my girls, a way to share our life with our family, since we live 800 miles from them.

But over time it became less of a family update kind of thing and more of a creative outlet for me. Don't get me wrong, I don't think anything I write is profound, or, honestly, all that interesting to most people, but at least it gives me a place to write. Maybe one day I'll try something more ambitious, but this way no one can laugh at me. And if they do, I'll never know. Ah, the beauty of the Internet.

So when I realized that I was coming up on my "blogiversary" (I think the beloved TAMN coined that phrase, so I can't actually use it in any seriousness, not that I would anyway) I tried to think of something really cool I could do to commemorate that great day two years ago when I embarked on this adventure.

Aaaaaaand...I got nothin'.

But the wheels are still turning. I may just shake things up a little bit. For instance, I might put a different picture of the girls up. Or I might introduce a new weekly post topic, a-la Random Thoughts Thursday. Or I might redesign the whole layout. Or maybe I'll change the title (no, stop it all of you, I will NOT be changing it to anything with the number 4 in it.) You never know. But it will be something, and it will be awesome.

In the meantime, though, happy blogiversary to meee!!!

P.S. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I can celebrate, do share.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The day we've all been waiting for!

It's the first day of school!!!

I know, I know, I probably shouldn't be so giddy, but we have been ready for this day for about three weeks now. The girls have had their clothes picked out (not that there was much to choose from, with the new "code of dress" - i.e. uniforms - that our school implemented this year. Have I mentioned how happy I am that they did this? No more fighting over clothes every. single. morning!) and ready to go for days. Vicki made plans with her friend Kate to match, which made me laugh for two reasons. 1) because I remember doing the same thing with my friend Katherine, and 2) because, hello, they're wearing uniforms! They're going to match with at least 5 or 6 people every day! But with the choice of skirts, pants, or shorts, plus three colors to choose from for the tops, apparently the coordination was essential to a successful first day back. Anyway, they settled on a pleated skirt, a white short-sleeved shirt, and a green sweater with white knee socks and brown shoes. And of course, Lexi had to match Vicki.
It's so nice when they get along and love each other. School starting back up will help this.

Vicki is starting 4th grade. I've been having minor panic attacks all week every time I thought about this. I remember 4th grade! It's more grown-up. I don't know if I'm ready for her to be that grown up, but she sure is. At their school the 4th and 5th grade classes are all combined, and they meet in the annex behind the main school building, so she feels like this is a huge step. Which it is. So she had to have a messenger bag this year, to add to the grown-uppedness. She keeps reminding me that she only has two more years until she's in middle school, to which I plug my ears and sing loudly until she goes away.

Lexi is lucky in that her 1st grade teacher got moved to 2nd grade this year and kept a few of her students. This is the same teacher that I babysit for, and who Vicki had for two years, and we love her, so we're hoping we can somehow finagle the two years in a row thing when Ellie's in school, too. Lexi's excited because once you're in 2nd grade you get to have recess on the big playground, so she's taking a step toward that grown-uppedness thing, too. I stood in line with her while they waited to go inside, and she was excited to see some familiar faces. It's nice to drop them off at school and have them be completely confident that it will be a good year and that they'll have fun.

They're growing up, but I think I can handle it. And look at them - they're ready for anything!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Everyone enjoys a clean house

Our church does not employ a janitor. Well, okay, I’m sure there are janitors somewhere on the payroll of something or other owned by the Church. But for the individual meetinghouses, not so much. There are an awful lot of LDS meetinghouses in the world these days. Instead, the members get a chance to take stewardship of the building and give a little back. On Saturday it was our turn. The gentleman who coordinates this was enthusiastic about children coming along, which I think is great because A) I don’t want to pay someone to watch them for an hour and a half on a Saturday morning and B) I want them to understand that it’s important for us to take care of our church building. Hopefully the experience of cleaning it will encourage them to be aware of how their actions might affect the next person who cleans there.

We arrived promptly at 9:00 and Brother N. set us right to work, Chris cleaning windows and me vacuuming, and the girls helping wherever they could.

As I worked my way down the hall and through the classrooms, Vicki and Lexi moved chairs around and picked up the few pieces of garbage on the floor that were too big to vacuum. Ellie just sort of wandered between Chris and myself, thrilled that we were at the church, on a Saturday, with only a four other people.

We had talked with the girls beforehand about why the members clean the building, and how important it was for us to do a good job. And we’ve talked with them in the past about how the church building is Heavenly Father’s house, and how we therefore treat it with respect so that we can feel the Spirit while we’re there.

So I was vacuuming a classroom, and Ellie planted herself on a chair and announced, “Mommy, when Jesus gets home He will be so, so, sooooo surprised! And He will be happy with us for helping Him get His house clean. And then He will have a party, and we will get to come because we helped Him and He loves us!” She went on about this party for a while. It apparently will involve balloons.

Even though they do embellish a bit, it’s nice to know that at least some of what we tell them is getting through.

That will be some party.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

I’m baking bread for the first time in a really long time. Mmmmmm...smells soooo tasty. I think we'll have grilled cheese (it always feels like less of a cop-out when I use homemade bread) and fresh tomato soup tonight for dinner. Yum!

Five more days until school starts!!! But I’m not looking forward to getting two of the girls out of the house. Oh, no, not at all.

It cracks me up when the girls roll over in bed and whack into their metal magnet boards. How they can do that and not wake up is a mystery to me. (Not that I’m complaining!)

I have found a new website to love. Okay, well, this isn’t a recent find, but I’ve finally decided to just link to it so I can find it whenever I want. Check out Feminist Mormon Housewives. Is that an awesome name or what? You don’t even have to be a feminist, or a Mormon, or a housewife, (or even a woman, for that matter.) I promise.

Apparently this week is the 70th anniversary of the film The Wizard of Oz. And, somewhat appropriately, Lexi is currently (and dramatically) lamenting the loss of her ruby shoes, which she outgrew at least 3 years ago, and, just for good measure, her “Dorothy dress”, which is not the blue and white gingham one I made her for Halloween four years ago, but the red velvet Christmas dress that she wore almost daily when she was 2. When she gets like this she reminds me of my sister (love you, Adrie!), who cried when my mom threw out the old, broken waffle iron.

Cakewrecks refuses to load on my computer today. No fair!

If a tree falls in the forest and my children are anywhere in the vicinity, would anyone hear it over the ruckus?

Speaking of ruckus and words that sound similar and mean pretty much the same thing, is anyone else as excited as I am for the Where the Wild Things Are movie? “Let the wild rumpus begin!”

How did Lexi come to own so many clothes? You’d think Ellie would have the most, what with hand-me-downs, but somehow it’s Lexi whose drawers are overflowing.

Is it wrong that it’s after 1:00 and my kids are still in their pajamas?
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