Monday, December 30, 2013

A Clovis Christmas

This year Robyn and I spent Christmas week with her parents in Clovis, California.  It was a great week.  We had loads of fun.  We went on a few adventures, had lots of relaxation, and lots of family time.

I'm just going to warn you now, I started writing this and it got really long.  I won't be offended if you don't read all the way to the end.  Just know it was a fabulous week.  Here are a few highlights.

The Nativity
Robyn's family has a tradition of acting out the Christmas story on Christmas Eve.  Her Dad reads it from the Bible and we all get to play various characters.  We're a dramatic bunch, and I feel this picture captures some of the drama that goes into this family room production.

Teanca was an excellent angel that made everyone sore afraid.
I don't know how to describe what stollen is.  It's German.  It's delicious.  That's all I know.  Here's a Wiki if you need to know more. Robyn took lessons from her Oma and she made us some stollen.  I told her she needs to make it every month so she doesn't forget how.

She's the cutest little stollen maker.

And look at that deliciousness.
The Interpretive Dance
Out of the entire week, there were 3 1/2 minutes that shined like a jewel as the greatest 3 1/2 minutes of the entire trip.  Robyn's Dad read "The Night Before Christmas" while Robyn and Teanca performed an interpretive dance.

It was the greatest thing ever.  Despite that, Robyn is embarrassed about it.  (She's embarrassed that no one else can even approach her awesomeness.) So I'm not sharing the video, but here is an animated gif made from some of the highlights.  Hopefully that won't embarrass her too much.

We're bikers
I wasn't doing my normal exercise routine, but we tried to get out and do something every day to exercise.  We even did some biking.  Despite the pain in the buttocks region, it was a lot of fun and after our ride I told Robyn I want to buy a bike, so we can do more at home.  She agreed and said we totally should when there is no snow at our house.  Woot!

We're totally bikers.  We biked to the John R. Wright station, named after Robyn's Dad.  It was 9.2 miles round trip.  Not a bad little ride.
Angry Birds
Have you ever played Angry Birds on your phone? Have you ever wished you could catapult birds at piggies in real life? We got a fabulous gift for Christmas. Take a look at this.
The moment we've all dreamed of is here.

The piggy death star.  Destroy it before it destroys you.
It was just as fun as it sounds.  Here's a video of us taking it on its maiden voyage.

The Zoo
We took one day and went to the zoo in Fresno.  I've loved the zoo since I was a little kid.  What can I say?  I love animals.

I FED A GIRAFFE!  I totally got to pet them as well.

Will was not nearly as excited about feeding giraffes as I was.  In his defense, their tongues were as long as his whole body.

The goat let me pet him, but when I tried to take a selfie with him he ran away.
Also, this happened.
Sometimes Teanca poses with statues.  It's how she rolls.

Woodward Park
We took a couple hours to explore Fresno's Woodward Park.  I want a ginormous park like that.  Good thing they're building a new park right by my house.

Robyn said she didn't remember a fountain being in this park, but we found one anyway.

There were these weird structures all over the park.  I assumed they were built by an ancient civilization.  Robyn said they were exercise equipment so people could do circuit training outside in the park.  I like the ancient civilization theory.

There were millions of ducks and geese.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  It's only 2 hours from Clovis, so I convinced Robyn to take a day trip with me.  It was totally worth it.  We did the Mirror Lake hike this time around.
The trail was really pretty.  I loved the bits of snow and ice amid the beautiful trees.

Just looking up at the mountains.

Mirror Lake isn't much of a lake.  In the winter it's basically a stagnant river.  The word on the street is that in the spring there's much more water.  Robyn looks really cute standing in what would be the bottom of the lake at a different time of year.

It looked like a stairway to heaven.  I climbed it.  It was just a stairway to some rocks.

Sometimes I'm a tree hugger.

There's no scale in this picture but this crow was ginormous.  It followed us for a half mile because I was eating a cookie.  It reminded me of the movie "The Birds".  It would just fly and sit somewhere near us until we got more than 30 feet away and then it would fly somewhere in front of us again.  It was creepy and awesome.

Robyn is cute among ginormous trees.

I loved seeing the mountains and trees reflected in the water.

You can't go to Yosemite without taking at least one picture of half dome.

Christmas Morning
Of course, Christmas morning is always a highlight.  I think the best part of Christmas morning was that my 18 month old nephew decreed that I was his official assistant to open his presents.  I think it was because I had him help me open one of my presents.  After that, he just kept bringing me presents and I let him rip them open.

Eventually, he brought me a present that wasn't addressed to him.  I made him take it to his Dad, who it was addressed to.  That act of betrayal lost his trust, and he didn't bring me any more presents.

The Christmas tree before we opened anything.
Megan and Will frolicking in the wrapping paper.  Sometimes the paper is better than the presents.
Of course, the best thing was just being together with family. We had lots of laughs and lots of good times. That's what Christmas is all about.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Craziness

Here are some of the things we have been up to.

We were able to go and see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert.  The lights were beautiful and we loved the mesmerizing music.

We ate at The Garden restaurant and had an amazing view of the city.  Not only that but I LOVE the fried pickle spears (guilty pleasure) 
 I have also been baking for various events.  This is my families favorite treat to share with friends.  I made a few loaves for Jeff to take to work.

Cherry Braid
 We have been spending a lot of time with lots of friends and family.  It is the best time of the year!

Our long time fiend Kayli joined us for dinner.

We had my birthday dinner with my family and Jeff took some time to bond with our nephew.
Now a little BRAND NEW NEWS!  My oldest sister just had her twin boys!  I don't know a lot of details because I just found out about an hour ago.  They still don't have names and they will be in the NICU for a couple weeks, but as far as I know they are doing better then expected!  I'm so excited to be and aunt again and I can't wait to meet the new little cuties!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Birthday Weekend and Scuba certification

I'm Scuba certified!

I don't have any cool pictures to show you from the actual dive.  My underwater camera is only good to 30 feet.  I thought that was plenty when I bought it, because I was planning to use it for snorkeling, and I was confident that I would never free dive to 30 feet while snorkeling.

For our final dive, we just had a few more things to pass off.  We had to simulate an emergency ascent from 20 feet (You pretend you're out of air and ascend to the top while exhaling the whole way, so that your lungs don't explode.)  We also had to take off our mask and put it back on at 20 feet.

Then he let us have about 25 minutes to dive doing whatever we want.  He said that was our final exam.  He was watching us and he told us the biggest thing he's watching is to make sure that we're aware of our buddy and things like how much air our buddy has left.

Robyn and I explored all of the fun things that are down in the depths at the Crater.  There is a wagon wheel at about 35 feet.  There's a ring you can swim through around 40 feet.

Our certification allows us to go to 60 feet, but when our instructor signaled that our time was up, Robyn and I had only worked our way down to 48 feet.  So that's the deepest I've ever been.

But it was soooo cool!  I'm so excited to do some real dives!  We told our instructor that we're going to the Caribbean next summer, but we want to do some local dives with him first.  He said he's doing a trip to Sand Hollow reservoir in a few months.  Maybe by then I'll have a camera that can go diving.

Anyway, since Robyn's birthday was last week, we decided to have a little romantic getaway at the Homestead Resort (where the Crater is located) to celebrate.  Basically, we'll use anything as an excuse to take a trip.

So here are a few of the highlights of our short little getaway.

It was pretty darn cold, but I got Robyn to bundle up and go exploring with me in the snow.  (That's how much she loves me.)  Isn't she so cute all bundled up?
These were the lights on the front porch of our suite.  It thought the icicles were epic.  Part of me wanted to break them off and pretend they were swords.  But the part that wanted to leave them and let them grow prevailed.
There is a little Mexican place in Midway that I love.  We tried to go there for dinner, but I guess in small towns restaurants just close when their owners need a vacation.
Everything was totally frozen except for this little duck pond.  I'm pretty sure it had to be heated because there was no ice in it at all and there was steam rising from it.  It was like a little duck spa.
Hidden under the snow lurked an evil that never sleeps.  That's right, there was a golf course.
These little ice tepees had little fountains on top of them spraying a fine mist so that over time it formed this coolness.  
This is what Robyn does on vacation.  It was super fun to get cozy next to the fire after being outside in the cold.
It was a pretty fabulous weekend.  Robyn's birthday and Scuba certification worked together well to give us a solid excuse to have a getaway.  It will be a long time before we take another trip.  It's nearly a full 2 weeks before we fly to California for Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving photo dump

I had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend.  I sat down to write about it and realized I didn't have one particular story to share, so I thought I would just give you a few photos of the festivities I participated in.

Some of Robyn's cousins were in town so we had a get together with them Wednesday night.  Some I had met before and others I hadn't, but it was lots of fun to spend time with all of them.

Since I've lost weight, I'm not as warm as I used to be.  I've found that my feet, in particular, get cold.  Thursday morning I was just sitting with my feet in the bath tub reading my Kindle.  Robyn thought it was amusing and snapped this pic.
This is me swinging on the swing in my Grandma's front yard.  Robyn was convinced I would break it, but I totally didn't.  I'm totally skinny enough to swing on a swing.

We went on a short walk/hike near my Grandma's house after Thanksgiving dinner.  Naturally, we took a selfie.

Just a view of the mountain on our walk.  The street where we were standing used to be wilderness when I went to Grandma's house as a child.

This is my cousin Jewell.  She's a crane.  That's what happens at Thanksgiving dinner.

When Jewell (The crane from above), was 4 years old, I mentioned that I though kisses were gross. (I've since changed my view on that.)  She insisted quite vehemently that, "Kisses are soft, okay?"  I made this with magnets on Grandma's fridge, to remind us all of that occasion many moons ago.

Robyn made a pumpkin pie from scratch! She roasted a pumpkin and everything.  That's how she rolls.

This was the entire crew gathered at my Grandma's house.  

This was my Thanksgiving dinner.  I know you were dying to know exactly what I ate.
It was a fabulous Thanksgiving.  What was your favorite part about the weekend?