Monday, January 19, 2015

Crazy Busy Saturday

Saturday was a crazy busy day. In the morning, Rinar and I went to the furniture store to buy a couch. Then we hurried home to get all of the kids and take them to their sporting events. Zach had a wrestling tournament at Brighton High School and Raef had a basketball tournament at Rowland Hall.

Whew, was it eventful. I stayed with Zach and the girls and Rinar took all of the rest of the boys to the basketball game. Luckily, all the little kids had some kind of electronic device to keep them occupied.  The wrestling tournament was bananas. It was packed and chaotic. They run the tournament with computers, so I had to watch carefully for his name to come up for his matches. Matches could go very quickly so I was paranoid about missing it.

Zach's first match ended quickly, and not in Zach's favor. He was pinned in about 30 seconds. He tried really hard but the other kid got the upper-hand on him, darn it.  The next match was a forfeit. But the third match was much better. It went two rounds and he fought hard and in the end, pinned his opponent. I was so darn proud of him! And he got a second place medal. When he saw the medal, his face was priceless.


Raef is on a competitive basketball team called the Alpha Dawgs. We have to go downtown just about every time for practice. It is a commitment, but I am grateful we found a team and that he has such a good coach. Unfortunately, they lost the first game, but did win the second. At this point, Raef is a benchwarmer. But I hope that he will have a desire to work hard so that he can get more playing time. We shall see.

In the evening, both boys had their birthday parties, since they are now 13! I have teenagers now. We decided to have them both do their own thing. Zach went with Caleb S. and Teancum M. to Airborne, a trampoline park. Rinar went with them and then took them to get food at Wendy's. I then dropped off Raef and his friends Matt D., Ethan, Ethan's friend (can't remember his name), and Talon A. and they went to see Night at the Museum 3 at the movie theater. When I got home, Rinar went to the movie a little late and then he took this group of boys to Chick-Fil-A. Both of them seemed pretty happy and they got along splendidly with their guests. 

It was a crazy, fun day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hawaii

Rinar and I started the year off right, with a get away trip to Portland and Hawaii...well, most Hawaii. We left on January 2, and went to Portland first. We got there in the afternoon and had time to get lunch at one of their famous lunch trucks downtown. Then we went to Powell's bookstore and perused the infinitesimal selection they had. It was a lot bigger than it looked. Then we had to go to Voodoo Donuts. There was a line out the door. Thank goodness we were there on a sunny, non-raining day.


At night we ate at a place called Sizzle Pie. The pizza was good, but there was nowhere to sit. Luckily, we got a table and then offered up two of the seats to a random couple that was without a table also. It was an enjoyable evening making new friends and eating some delicious bites. We had to wake up super early to make our flight to Hawaii. It was an uneventful flight, which is always good. And since we left early, we were able to get to our hotel just after lunch. Rinar had kept all the details of our trip top secret, so I was very surprised when I saw the room he booked. It was amazing. It had an incredible ocean view, with a veranda and a separate seating area with a sectional couch. Whoa! And then once we got unpacked, he gave me another surprise, a new wedding ring to replace my simple band. Now my band has seven diamonds on it! Rinar really went over board for me. I guess he really loves me.

We then had dinner with Rinar's Aunt Norma and his cousin Kamuela, Roxy, Olivia, and the kids. It was great. Kamuela had made Portuguese Bean Soup and it was delicious. It was wonderful to be able to see them all again.

On Sunday, we went to church with Norma and then after, drove up to Laie to visit Rinar's grandma. She is now 94 and still doing well. Grandma has Alzheimer's, but we were fortunate to catch her on a good day. She was very talkative. And we were also able to visit Rinar's Uncle Doug and Aunt Bonnie. We talked for a while and then played her a few songs on the piano.


Look at that moon view from our hotel room.


Monday was spent on the North Shore. We did a quick hike on a trail at the end of Pupukea Road near the Bonzai Pipeline. Then we watched the surfers for a bit, surfing the big waves. Then it was time to eat, so we went to Haleiwa. The food was great and we even got a shaved ice at the Aloha General Store. Yum! 


After all the food I mostly ate, we did another hike at Ka'ena Point. It was the perfect place to do some whale watching. It was awesome. I actually was able to see whales breaching. It was kind of far away, but I could still see them pretty well.  This is the car we rented for the week, a convertible jeep.  Yep, for the whole week the top was down! In the evening, we went to Hoku and Jerry's house for dinner. They offered to feed us, so hey, why not? Plus, we had a wonderful visit with them and Aunty Margaret and Tina and all the kiddos. 


On Tuesday we did two more hikes, this time with Kehau. The first one was the Pillbox Trail in Kailua. It was a quick, intense hike, up, up, up. But the view was spectacular! 


Then after all that hard work, the three of us went to Boot 'n Kimo's, a famed breakfast place in Kailua, and had coconut macadamia pancakes and they were definitely delicious. The place must be really famous in Japan, because I think just about every other customer was from there.

After our brunch, we went on hike number two, to Hamama Falls, near Norma and Kimo's house. This time, Kehau's boyfriend Loren joined us as we made it up to the waterfall.  Fantastic!


When we went back to the house, Uncle Mark was there. We haven't seen him in almost a decade so it was a blessing to be able to reconnect with him.

For dinner, we met Sheri, Breanna, and Tina at Sushi Bay in Kapolei. The wait was long but it really was worth it. Onolicious! 

Then we headed over to Aulani to watch Kamuela in his element, performing Hawaiian music with Jerry Santos, a musical legend. They were mesmerizing. It was such an honor to be able to hear there music, as it was our second time, since we also heard them a bit on Sunday night.


We woke up crazy early on Wednesday to catch a 5 am flight to Maui. Yep, we went to Maui for the day with another cousin, Bethany, to do some snorkeling on Molokini Island. Bethany is a marine biologist and full of great information. Plus, she is just a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, as we were sailing to Molokini the captain informed us that it was too windy, and the waves were super choppy. So she changed course, and took us against the island to shield us against the wind. It turned out well. Rinar signed us up to do snuba diving. It is where you breathe the oxygen, but the tanks are on rafts on the surface. You can only go down 10-12 feet, but you don't have to get certified as an instructor. It was quite an experience. I was more nervous about cold water than actually going under the water. For some reason it was pretty darn chilly that day. Happily, it wasn't too bad once I got in there.

We snorkeled in a couple of locations and at our second stop we encountered a bunch of sea turtles, beautiful fish, and healthy coral. It was an activity never to be forgotten, besides the fact that I really didn't take any good pictures, darn it!  The crew of Maui Magic were great and they fed us well. That is always important, right?

After the snorkeling adventure, we went to find something to do until it was time to go on a helicopter ride.  We decided to make a quick trip to the Iao Valley. As we were parking, Rinar got a call from the helicopter company informing us that they had to cancel because it was too windy and not safe. Drats! But the Iao Valley was a beautiful, quick stop.


Then we drove over to Lahaina and did some shopping and ate some delicious food. Bethany loves to eat, just like me! We had incredible gelato. It was super expensive, but we decided that it was worth every penny. We also ate at Lahaina Luna Cafe, and ordered one of everything recommended by Yelp and were not disappointed. The Korean tacos were the bomb!


Since we had to wake up so early, Thursday was a do-nothing kind of day. We hung out at the hotel and I even took my beloved nap on the beach. The beach lounging was accompanied by a fruity, Hawaiian drink, the Lava Flow, and a good book.

And amazingly enough, we finished off the week with one more cousin dinner. We went to the most unassuming and scrumptiously delicious food truck in Honolulu with BJ and his wife Kapio. Holy moly. I got the Ahi Tuna Steak dinner and it far exceeded my expectations. And Rinar was pretty darned pleased with his steak. We took the food over to the mall where Kehau was performing in The Legends Rock-a-Hula show. She danced and even sang. It was quite the show and it was fun to see her do her thing. Kehau is such a good dance and has a big stage presence.


Yes, we all approved of the food truck cuisine.


And then the Hawaiian vacation was over. After a layover and quick stay in Portland, we were home by Saturday afternoon and I was so thrilled to see my kids again.  Rinar has been incredibly blessed with a wonderful, loving family. It was a blessing to be able to spend so much time with all of them and enjoy the beauty of Hawaii. 

And it was a blessing to be back home and have all of my children safe and happy.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day was perfection. We invited our Las Vegas friends over for a lunch get together. Dwan, Elizabeth, Melanie, Jared, Lindsay, and Justin and all the kids. There were definitely a whole bunch of kids. We did a potluck hoagie lunch and leftover ice cream from our New Year's Eve banana split tradition. The kids had a great time catching up with each other and us old adults were able to talk and relax and do some music, which was a surprise treat. 

Grace, Christopher, and Josh all treated us to their musical stylings. Grace is an incredible violinist, and Christopher still can play the violin at an extremely high level. Plus, now that he is married he just seems more mature in his violin playing. Josh sang a few of his Broadway numbers and then I re-sang his version of Music of the Night a little bigger and a whole lot sillier.

The best part was when I broke out the tiny violins and then Christopher and Grace played difficult pieces on them. Even Halle joined in. It was a lot of fun.


When it was time to leave, here were all the kids. We are only missing Alexander and his wife to make the picture complete.


Julia, with Ava and Ali.


And us crazy adults. Hey, we know how to have a good time!


Sledding

Christmas Day brought a beautiful blanket of white snow. It was great, especially since we had nowhere to go. But Rinar did take the kids to the park for a fun afternoon of sledding. It was a great time, but I think Rinar had the funnest time of all.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas and the Piano

This was an epic Christmas, that is for sure. It was pretty much perfect and I marvel at the fact that I was able to do all the things that I wanted to do. We went Christmas caroling to our neighbors, delivered a handmade gift, sent off my Christmas cards (a miraculous feat), and decorated the house with Christmas eclat. Well, at least my kids thought it was pretty fabulous. 

On Christmas Eve, Rinar asked me to take the kids and leave in the morning so he could get my surprise here in a timely manner. I took them to the children's museum in Lehi and came back promptly at 12, just like he asked. His mom decided to spend the week with us, so in the interim time the surprise was delivered and he picked her up. 

When I got home, I announced myself and then went into the living room. There it was, a grand piano. And not just any grand piano. Nope. It was a Steinway!  Holy moly. He really went all out this year. But the most shocking part for me was when Melody Brown peered around the corner. Melody is one of the 5 Browns, part of a dynamic sibling piano playing quintet. What in the world? She then shared her musical gifts with our family and played a few songs on the new piano. One of the songs was "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music. It was incredible. She is a Steinway artist, so I guess when you buy a Steinway, this is one of the perks of the purchase.


We visited for a while and her husband took pictures of us together. This piano was used in a performance by the 5 Browns this summer at the Draper Amphitheater. If you look inside the piano, they all signed it. It was also a birthday present for Linda to have this private concert with her. Linda had seen her perform live at Tuacahn and now here she was, in our living room.

After Melody left, the kids made gingerbread houses with grandma while I finished up last minute errands for Christmas.

Too cute.



And on Christmas Eve, we ate pork burritos and had a birthday cake for Linda. I think she liked it.



This is what our Christmas looked like this year.


And the kids patiently wait, eagerly anticipating the gifts Santa brought.


We decided to get all the boys a Nintendo 3Ds. I am not sure if I am going to regret this decision, but it sure has been much loved over the past few days, without a doubt. Julia wanted an Elsa doll and Noelle got a cuddly little doll also.

After we opened presents and ate lunch, we headed over to the Draper Rehab center to do a Christmas program for the residents. Linda was able to participate with us, which was a blessing. We left Noelle home to nap with my sister and her husband. That was also super nice to be able to do. Zach wasn't able to go because he lost his voice and was just not feeling very well. Over all, he was not too sick, but at that moment he was probably at his worst.

The Christmas program was lovely and it was nice to be able to do service on Christmas Day. I was really grateful that we could have the kids do that.

Sunday was another spectacular day. We decided to do the same program for our neighbors. I really wanted to do something for them as a way for everyone to get to know each other better and to create more solidarity on our street. I was happy with the turnout. It was kind of last minute.  But you can see, the room was full!



Rinar told me right before our guests arrived that one of our neighbors was going to bring some friends. I was like, uh, okay. Whatever. You can see the "friends" in the very back row. We sang and played and did our stuff. I finished off the program with "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and then was like, thanks for coming everyone. That's it.

But then Rinar stepped in and said there was an encore performance. What? I knew nothing about this. Then he introduced Josh Wright and his wife Lindsey. Josh is a world-renowned pianist and another  Steinway artist. You can find his stuff on Youtube, especially this song where he plays on two pianos. He also was on America's Got Talent. First they played a couple of piano duets and then he proceeded to play a slew of songs. It was breathtaking. And the best part was that we could share this with our neighbors. Everyone seemed to enjoy it immensely. It was just one of those super-cool moments in life I don't ever want to forget.


Of course, Rinar made sure we had a Sharpie, and had them both sign our piano as well. 




This is probably my best Christmas yet. How could you ever top this, right? Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! I have taken a little blog vacation, but I guess a promised Christmas letter should help me get back on track.

January

We started off 2014 with a big birthday for Raef and Zach. They turned 12, which means they were ordained Deacons and started passing the sacrament in church. They took to it well and have never looked back. 

It was also a month that brought great change. Rinar's dad passed away after many years of poor health. We were able to have a beautiful funeral service for him to send him home. We miss him every day and look forward to a happy reunion some day.

February

Eli turned 6! And we also took a family trip to San Diego and Legoland. It was really nice and fun to be able to go when it was not busy. It is one of the perks of homeschooling, for sure.

March

We got back to business with school work galore.  All the kids are growing, but especially Noelle, who passed the 6 month mark.

April

Noelle, Rinar, and I went with Bart and Monica on a quick trip to Las Vegas so that the guys could compete in a triathlon relay with our Vegas friends Rich and Johanna. The guys did great and won the relay. Then later in the month Rinar and I went to North Carolina for my 20 year high school reunion. It was fun to get away and do a bit of reminiscing.

May

We had an unexpected visit from Rinar's cousin Ranel, did lots of little outings, including a day trip to the Golden Spike National Monument and some scenic mountain drives. Then my mom came out to stay at our house for two weeks so that Rinar and I could take Raef and Zach on an epic Eastern states American history trip. We did it all, from Jamestown to the coast of Maine. I thought they didn't really learn much, but I have been surprised over the rest of this year how many things did sink in. Thank goodness!

June

The little kids took an intense interest in coin collecting. That is a super easy souvenir to bring back from any old trip. The boys also did a Father/Son camp out with our ward. And as always, it was violin camp time. This was Eli's first year and he really enjoyed it and wanted to play his violin a lot more.

July

We visited family in St. George for the 4th, did lots of swimming, visited the Salt Lake Cemetery, the Utah Arts Festival, and skate park.  We also planted a garden this year and it really took off. The kids just loved going out there every day finding botanical treasures and asking lots of questions about nature.  I also took a weekend trip to Sedona with my sister Heather and my Dad came for a week long visit.

August

Football was in full swing for our house. Raef made it onto a better team this year and had a positive experience with the coaches and the season. He was back on the line and learned a ton. Eli also played flag football with his crew. We went camping, hiking, swimming more, and worked on lots of merit badges for Boy Scouts. Zach participated in a triathlon and did a marvelous job. And the biggest event this year was probably that I enrolled both Raef and Zach into the public middle school. 

September

Harry and Julia both played on soccer teams and had a blast. We made a day trip to Wyoming and the mountain man rendezvous and a visit to the fairy forest. And darling Noelle turned 1! Holy Moly!!

October

Julia had a special princess birthday party to celebrate 5. It was a huge success. Harry had a LEGO party with the little boys in our neighborhood and just loved it. Two separate parties. I participated in the Red Rock Relay with my running friends and almost died running my leg around Jordanelle Reservoir. Somehow I survived. And Raef's team won the championship. Go Chargers!

November

Zach started with the wrestling club and really loves it. Raef found a competitive basketball team to play with and is enjoying it immensely. We also did the craziest thing by driving all the way down to Arizona to visit my family. Thanksgiving was at Golden Corral with my parents and sister Christi and her family. We stayed in a hotel in Mesa and were able to visit the beautiful Christmas lights at the temple and spend time with everyone. And somehow we limped home all in one piece.

December

Eli started playing basketball and is really enjoying it. Raef, Zach, and Eli all had string recitals and Raef and Zach continue to play in a chamber group with another violinist and a cellist. It has been a great experience for them.  And Rinar and I took an over-nighter to Las Vegas to watch our Utes play victoriously in the Vegas Bowl. We also were able to catch up with some wonderful Sunset Ward friends. We stopped by at a few other places to surprise people but nobody was home. Boo. I wish we could have seen everyone. Las Vegas has the best people in the world.

And you must really love me if you read through this entire list of family happenings. Have a Merry, merry Christmas everyone. We love all of you and look forward to hearing from you in one way or another.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Seahawks End Their Season

The crazy fall is starting to wrap up...thank goodness! Oy. Some how I have managed to get everyone where they have needed to go and everything seems to have worked out okay. Eli finished flag football this past week.  The kid was absolutely ecstatic to add another trophy to his shelf. He lives for the meaningless trophy. Don't get me wrong, I am glad he is happy and that he got one, but they only won two games this season. They didn't really earn anything. Some day he will understand.

But I can't take away from that happy face, right?


I think he was able to pull a couple of flags this year and he ran the ball for a total of about maybe +1 yards, but I might be generous in that estimation. However, he was definitely the cutest one out there. It has sparked a love of sport in him. Every day he goes into the yard and practices punting with Harry and Raef. I can see his coordination greatly improving. He is still a pretty slow runner but maybe if I got him some really good shoes, that would improve too.

Way to go, Eli!
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