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Merry Christmas

Skyping with Anne on Christmas

Skyping with Anne on Christmas

We were excited to have a Skype call with Anne this Christmas. We even convinced her to bear her testimony in Chinese:

Anne’s Christmas Testimony

Christmas 2013

We had a fun Christmas morning. The kids all asked for “footie” pajamas. When I was a kid we called them “buntings” and they weren’t cool to wear unless you were in Kindergarten or younger but I guess they’re the cool thing to wear for teenage girls these days.

Caroline on Christmas morning

Caroline on Christmas morning

Emily and Anne. Emily wouldn't turn and look at the camera...

Emily and Anne. Emily wouldn’t turn and look at the camera…

Everyone enjoyed opening gifts from each other, from Grandparents, and from Santa. I didn’t do a very good job of Christmas shopping this year but Nancy bailed me out by getting herself the exact presents she wanted, wrapping them, and putting them under the tree so I could give them to her on Christmas morning.

Diana on Christmas morning

Diana on Christmas morning

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Enjoying Christmas morning

I lucked out and got a big bag of Fruity Pebbles and some new BYU slippers. What more could a guy want?

Cool new slippers

Cool new slippers

Nancy’s First Skiing Lesson

Having lived in Utah for nearly 20 years now, Nancy has asked me about skiing a few times: whether it’s fun or not, what’s it like, etc. I used to ski fairly regularly as a teenager but a job and family, as well as being fat and middle-aged, meant that skiing was always pushed to the bottom of my activity list. This year for our wedding anniversary I decided to take Nancy skiing. Nate’s wife Xia has also never been skiing so we decided to sign Nancy and Xia up for private lessons at Brighton.

Nancy and Xia ready for their first lesson

Nancy and Xia ready for their first lesson

Lori and Tasha and Tasha’s friend also came with us. We dropped Nancy and Xia off for their lesson and then Nate and Lori and I went and skied. Well, Nate snowboarded and Lori skied but what I was doing can’t really be called skiing. If there is a sport where fat middle-aged men inch their way down the hill on wobbly knees then that’s the sport I was participating in. Skiing seems too grandiose a term for it. Lori is awesome on the slopes. She’s in superb physical shape and her years of skiing with Bryan have really paid off because she has great form and is equally adept at gliding beautifully down the slope and pounding through the moguls. Nate shreds along on his snowboard and I only saw him wipe out once, which equaled my own wipeout total for the day. The problem with my wipeout is that it happened right under the ski lift and the particular lift in question happened to be stopped for a moment so I had a captive audience for my total fire-sale wipeout with poles and skis and hat and goggles flying in all directions.

Nancy and Xia seemed to have a good time and learned how to do the basic snowplow and turns. Learning how to ski in your mid-forties can’t be an easy thing but Nancy was cheerful and doggedly determined. I was proud of her at the end of the lesson as she was able to take the lift up to the top of the bunny hill and ski her way down with big snowplow turns. Here she is inching her way down the practice slope:

It was a fun day for everyone. Thanks to Lori and Nate for hanging out with a fat old poser like me for the day when they could have left me in the dust at any moment. The time and expense involved in skiing means it’s still not likely to be my winter hobby; however, now that Nancy is learning we may go more often than once every 20 years.

2013 Vacation – Flora photos

We really enjoyed our day at Manoa Falls and the arboretum. It also gave us a good excuse to fiddle around with the various settings on the camera. The following are a bunch of pictures we took of the native Hawaiian flowers and landscape in an attempt to be “artistic”. I don’t think I’ll be quitting my day job any time soon to become a professional photographer but it was fun to pretend like I was one for a day. If I was really on top of my game I would have remembered the scientific name of each plant when I photographed it (there were little labels in the ground that showed what each plant and flower was) but you’ll have to settle for pictures only.

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2013 Vacation – Part 4

Most of the kids wanted to go souvenir shopping and there is no better place for that than the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. Anne also wanted to go to the art museum. Grandma and Grandpa and Nancy wanted no part of the swap meet so we decided to divide and conquer. I would take the kids to the swap meet and art museum while the other grownups went on their own trip and we would meet up in Honolulu later in the day for people watching and to watch the sunset on Waikiki beach.

Laie Temple

Laie Temple

Grandma and Grandpa and Nancy ended up driving back to Laie to enjoy the grounds of the Laie temple and visit Grandpa’s old stomping grounds at BYU Hawaii. They also visited the macadamia nut farm on the way to Kaneohe and stopped at the Pali Lookout. The kids like the Pali lookout because, in addition to the spectacular view, the wind blows nonstop. Diana enjoyed having the wind blow her hair around.

Nancy and Diana

Nancy and Diana

Diana at the Pali Lookout

Diana at the Pali Lookout

What a view!

What a view!

In the meantime, I enjoyed checking out the people and vendors at the swap meet with Emily, Anne, Sam, and Caroline. They had every imaginable form of souvenir, tchotchke, and dongxi imaginable. I immediately bought a hat to protect my scalp which was sore from the previous day at the beach and pineapple maze. The kids all got various souvenirs and we even got Nancy some genuine fake pearls.

Shave ice at the swap meet

Shave ice at the swap meet

After some shave ice and some people watching we were ready to head out to the art museum. I’ve always like going through art museums. Annie loves visiting art museums. We each approach it with very different styles. I motor through the museum and look at every single exhibit but only spend a few seconds on each painting. Anne takes her time and thoughtfully considers each painting or sculpture. I’ve usually powered through the whole museum before Anne is even finished with the Impressionist section. The rest of the family is even faster than me. They’re usually good for about one or two exhibits and after that they’re perfectly happy to skip the rest of the museum and find a nice bench to wait for me and Anne.

At the art museum

At the art museum

This trip to the Honolulu Museum of Art was no exception. Emily, Sam, and Caroline were finished after about a half hour. I was done after an hour and a half but Anne hadn’t even made it out of the first wing yet. We decided to go eat lunch at a fast food place down the street while Anne continued her crawl through the museum.

Art lovers

Art lovers

After lunch we called Anne on her cell phone and told her to meet us out in front of the Museum or she would get left behind. Luckily for Anne, we brought her some lunch from the fast food place although I think she would have gladly skipped lunch entirely to be able to hang out in the museum for the rest of the day. We then met up with Grandma and Grandpa and Nancy for a trip through Iolani Palace.

King Kamehameha

King Kamehameha

Everyone really enjoyed the palace tour. It was fascinating to learn more about the history of the Hawaiian monarchy and view the beautiful grounds of the palace along with the wonderfully restored interior. We took our time through the self-guided audio tour and once everyone was finished we packed into the cars and headed towards Waikiki for some dinner and people watching.

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace

Enjoying the palace tour

Enjoying the palace tour

Waikiki is not any place I would choose to stay when in Hawaii but it was fun to go and check out the crowds of people on the beach and the crowds of people along the sidewalks. Some of the kids and I went strolling to check out the collection of hobos and street performers that both work the crowds along the street. Grandma and Nancy and Grandpa took up space on some prime benches and watched the sunset. The sunset along Waikiki wasn’t any more spectacular than the one we saw out of our hotel room every night but it sure was fun to check out all the crowds and beachgoers enjoying the evening the same as we were.

People watching on Waikiki

People watching on Waikiki

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for going with us on such a fun trip. The kids were all pretty good. Nobody whined (much) or argued (much). Everyone got to do the top thing on their list and everyone had a good time. It was the best vacation ever!

Enjoying the sunset

Enjoying the sunset

2013 Vacation – Part 3

We spent a day on the North Shore but of course we had to stop at the Dole Plantation. No matter how many times you’ve been there you can never seem to get enough of the pineapple ice cream.

The pineapple sherbet never gets old

The pineapple sherbet never gets old

Grandma and Grandpa and Nancy sat in the shade and enjoyed people watching while the rest of the kids decided to go through the pineapple maze. I’ve done the maze before and wasn’t super thrilled about going through it but the kids seemed interested so off I went. It was actually quite crowded in the maze and several times we ran into a logjam of people waiting to get through a narrow section.

Ready to run the maze

Ready to run the maze

The maze turned out to be pretty fun although by the end of it I was tired of right angle turns and was happy just to be able to walk in a straight line for more than 3 feet at a time. We didn’t finish in record time but we did go all the way through without cheating and cutting through the hedges.

Lost in the maze

Lost in the maze

Fun at the beach

Fun at the beach

After the maze we headed over to the beach in Laie. I like the beach in Laie better than the other beaches on the north shore. It isn’t nearly as crowded and the Laie locals are friendly and fun and don’t seem to mind a big family of tourists on the beach.

This teenager didn't want to get in the water

This teenager didn’t want to get in the water

We enjoyed playing in the waves and body surfing and even playing games with some of the local kids that showed up at the beach after school got out. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t last too long in the water and waves, although they lasted longer than I thought they would. Anne didn’t feel like going in the water at all so she stayed on the shore and enjoyed the sea breezes blowing through her hair. We paused only long enough to eat our lunch on the picnic tables and then headed straight back to the water.

Diana at the beach

Diana at the beach

The only downside to the beach is trying to get all the sand out afterwards and the long/wet drive back to the hotel. The other downside is that after a day in the maze and at the beach, I got a sunburn on the top of my head. I’ve never had to worry about the top of my head before. I’ve always had plenty of thick hair up there. Nancy’s been telling me I’m thinning up on top but I haven’t believed her. There couldn’t be any truth to that. Could there?

Enjoying the beach

Enjoying the beach

Summer Trip – Hiking, swimming, ghost town

Our summer trip finished up with a day of hiking at Cedar Breaks and Cascade Falls in the Dixie National Forest. I always enjoy the drive up Cedar Canyon and visiting Cedar Breaks and Brian Head. I’ve been taking trips there since I was a boy to visit my grandma and grandpa. It’s even more fun going with my dad because he tells stories from when he was a boy. Stories about Boys Cave and Squirrel Rock and pointing out the roads he surveyed while working for the forest service.

Cedar Breaks

Cedar Breaks

Ainhoa and family at Cedar Breaks

Ainhoa and family at Cedar Breaks

The hike to Cascade Falls is fun and easy and there is a nice viewing deck at the falls.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

Emily and Anne at the falls

Emily and Anne at the falls

Grandpa, Sam, and Anne

Grandpa, Sam, and Anne

Hiking up from the water

Hiking up from the water

We finished the afternoon off with time at the Cedar City aquatic center where the kids enjoyed the lazy river, water slide, and big huge bucket of water that continuously filled up until it tipped over and splashed everyone about once every 3 minutes.

At the aquatic center

At the aquatic center

Sam loved the water slide

Sam loved the water slide

On our drive back home, we decided to take a detour and check out the ghost town of Frisco, UT. Frisco’s claim to fame is the huge beehive charcoal ovens and they were certainly impressive; however, it isn’t much of a ghost town. There isn’t a single standing building beyond the ovens; only old foundations. Still, it was interesting to try and imagine what the place was like as an active mining town.

Frisco, Utah ghost town

Frisco, Utah ghost town

Charcoal ovens at the ghost town

Charcoal ovens at the ghost town

Frisco, UT

Frisco, UT

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That's a big oven!

That’s a big oven!

Wrapping up the summer

Ainhoa’s visit over the summer wrapped up with a flurry of adventures:

Hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon
A trip downtown and to the state capitol building
A visit to Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon copper mine
Timpanogos Cave National Monument
A week at girls camp

I never would have thought you could pack so much into a couple of weeks of summer. Nancy and Ainhoa and the kids certainly kept busy.

Hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Nancy enjoys hiking

Nancy enjoys hiking

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Checking out the copper mine

Checking out the copper mine

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A view of the mine

A view of the mine

Diana and Ainhoa making bizcocho

Diana and Ainhoa making bizcocho

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Hiking up to Timpanogos Cave

Hiking up to Timpanogos Cave

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A trip to the state capitol building

A trip to the state capitol building

Ainhoa at camp

Ainhoa at camp

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Braiding hair at camp

Braiding hair at camp

Girl's Camp

Girl’s Camp

Lots of things happening this month. The kids had their spring recital but I haven’t put the video up yet. Anne got an award at school for academic achievement, Diana got some teeth extracted so her adult teeth could grow in properly, and April showers certainly brought May flowers. The cherry blossoms and white flowers are from our yard.

Spring recital 2012

Spring recital 2012

Anne got an honors award at school

Anne got an honors award at school

Diana got some teeth extracted

Diana got some teeth extracted

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Diana’s Birthday and Baptism

It's great to be eight

It’s great to be eight

Diana's baptism

Diana’s baptism