Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Heart Attack

Valentine's Day is my second favorite holiday (behind Christmas). I don't buy that it's a Hallmark scam. Of course we should love every day, but I am in favor of a day especially devoted to celebrating love. One of our traditions is to do a family "heart attack". We did this as our Family Home Evening activity this past Monday. I cut tons of hearts from red paper and we each wrote things that we love about each other. My favorite part is when we go around and read them out loud. I get so choked up hearing the things that we love about each other.

Here are a few I want to remember:

Then, we tape them all over the walls so we can see all that love whenever we come into the house or come downstairs. It's amazing how good it feels!

On Valentine's Day morning, I had a little gift bag for each of the boys. (I'd mailed packages to Lyndsay and Dylan so they could share the fun as well.)

Usually I make a pink breakfast, but this was our Field Trip day, so the boys brought their new games to the car and off we went to the mountains!

February Field Trip: Snow Tubing at Big Bear Snow Play

In an effort to get out and do more with the kids, for this month's field trip, we chose a trip up to the mountains to go snow tubing. Conor has long been begging for snow. I promised him snow this year, but unfortunately there hasn't been a lot here in California. Over the three day weekend, I thought we'd drive up to Big Bear and play in whatever snow was available, and when I mentioned the plan to my nail girl, she suggested snow tubing -- an idea I hadn't thought of. The boys were so excited, and I'll admit, I was too. We all needed some fresh air fun.

We went to a place called Big Bear Snow Play, about a two hour drive from where we live. They advertise the longest snow tube runs in Southern California. It was $30 per person, which included the inner tube, for all day fun. They are open from 10am to 4pm. We got there right at opening, only a little carsick from the winding drive up the mountain.

Conor was all business about getting right to the snow!

We brought all kinds of snow gear, and most of us started out with coats, but it was almost 70 degrees, and we were soon way too warm with them on. Aiden was wishing he'd worn shorts! The shade was cool, but mostly, the sun reflecting off the snow was intense enough that we ditched the snow gear.

We got to choose our own inner tubes. Conor took this very seriously.

And saving us multiple trips hiking back to the top of the hill, was the Magic Carpet, a moving sidewalk of sorts.

There were six different runs, each a little different. Some with steeper inclines, others with (what we called) "whoop-dees", or humps in the run.

It should be noted that I am a complete chicken. Generally. In life. But I was determined to play in the snow and have a great time. I was actually the first one down the mountain, screaming my head off the whole way. I was terrified! But it was also exhilarating, and the kids wanted to go down with me just to enjoy my terror. Aiden accompanied me on many of the runs, with his camera poised and ready. He got some funny pictures that make me laugh to see just how embarrassing I am.

Here's the view from the top:

I love this series of shots he got as we went down together, holding on to each other's tubes. As we start off, it's all lovely.

You can tell that the speed picks up intensity, because my face expresses more and more fear.

So fun to have those rides with my boy. Who never made fun of me, I have to add. Just laughed along with me.

Little Conor had so much fun. No fear in him! Here he goes down the mountain, with Aiden in front of him capturing the joy in his little face.

 Conor and I went down together a few times as well, as did Adam and I.

I love this selfie Aiden got as they "Double Supermanned" down the run.

We ended up staying until about 3pm. We left happy and tired. Speaking of tires, we had a flat waiting for us in the parking lot, but a quick stop at the nearby gas station and a can of flat tire repair later had us back on the road. I'm sporting a decent sunburn, but the important thing was how much fun we had together in the Southern California snow.

Monday, January 26, 2015

So Sure

It's a Monday morning. I was on call last night and was so sure I'd be called in, and yet wasn't. So. This means I didn't fall asleep until 3am, and still had to wake up at 5:40 to cook breakfast for Aiden and drive him to Seminary. I'm now waiting the hour until Conor's alarm goes off, and enjoying the thoughtful quiet of the sleeping house.

Adam is here.

For a few weeks now. I was so sure I was done, and yet I could not go through with the divorce with my whole heart. Which left me thinking, and I'll admit, having a private foot stomping, clenched-fist, teeth-gritted emotional temper tantrum. Maybe I'll write more about this. Maybe. I feel a bit like the Girl Who Cried Divorce (not that I ever wanted to be that girl!), so since this is a delicate, vulnerable, tippy-toeing time, maybe I'll just wait.

This is the last week of January. I have my New Year's Resolutions all categorized and typed up, accessible from my home screen, and yet. I was so sure I was ready for some of them, and they haven't happened. Yet. I have not given up! Why is it so hard to do simple things that I know will bring me peace of mind and a measure of happiness? Must. Ponder.

I'm still thinking about our Testimony meeting yesterday. Sometimes our ward can be more circus than celestial, but yesterday---boy, yesterday was incredible. We have a new bishopric, and maybe the fresh leadership has ignited the positive energy, but I looked around the chapel during our meeting yesterday and have never felt so connected and so belonging with a group of people I often feel so different from. Wait, did that make sense? Our ward is somewhat of a melting pot in the Stake, a gathering of misfits from all walks of life, and yet, as I looked around the chapel I felt like I was home, that these people are my family, and that this, this is what the gospel is all about. Tattoos, cigarettes, poverty, imperfect families, and strained marriages, all coming before the altar of God, surrendered. I attended church fasting for my son. Thinking of him, praying for him, pleading for the Lord to keep His eye on my boy and somehow make Himself known. As if in answer, it seemed that every testimony was a powerful witness to the Lord's private workings, personal miracles, individual redemption in the lives of the ward members, and I felt peace.

I'm not sure it does me any good to be sure of anything except that. So, I'm going to move in the direction of peace.

Friday, January 9, 2015

January Field Trip: LACMA Samurai Exhibit and La Brea Tar Pits

One of my goals for this new year has been to get out and see and do more with the kids. There is so much available to us here in Los Angeles, but besides the factors of time and money, I struggle against an overwhelming desire to just stay home. I love to just be home, but I do want to take advantage of the opportunities around us, so I set a goal to have a "field trip" once a month with at least Conor (the other kids too, if they're here, which they're not right now.)

A friend drew my attention to the Samurai exhibit currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She raved about it, and I knew Conor would love that, so to be sure it would happen, I scheduled it in my planner and told him it would be a date.

It really was incredible. The exhibit is a portion of the private collection owned by Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller. Gabriel's father and grandfather were both art collectors and he has had a fascination with the Samurai since he was a boy. The items he's been able to collect are absolutely stunning, dating back over the last 700 years. I was so impressed by the fine craftsmanship and exquisite attention to detail. Here are some of my favorite pictures, snapped with my iPhone.

Conor brought a sketchpad and was so cute as he sat there sketching helmets. Twice, adults came and sat next to him and did their own sketches. I walked around the room and read placards while he sketched away.

Conor was hungry by that time and wanted a cheeseburger, so we walked down Wilshire and stopped at a food truck.

The Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits are right next door to the LACMA, so we headed over there too. I've been wanting to go to the Tar Pits for years.

This is a ground sloth! No thank you!

This mother mastodon and her six year old child (child? calf?) were found together. So sad!

The Columbian Mammoth. Those tusks have got to get in the way.

The Dire Wolf wall. All skulls from dire wolves found in the excavation sites at La Brea.

Here's a dire wolf skeleton.

The Paleontology lab. What tedious work!

Once through the museum, we walked around to the tar pits, where there are still active excavations.

Crates of fossils waiting to be worked on.

And on our way back to the parking garage, Conor wanted a quick shot of him lifting this massive boulder.

We had a terrific time together. Conor is such a pleasant museum buddy, and these two were right up his alley. A day well spent with my boy!