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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pools are for play

I envy all those swimmers and triathletes who have the discipline to use swimming pools for work and not play. Sure, I have the discipline to train for a 26.2-mile run. But spend hours swimming laps rather than splashing and lounging around? No, thank you. And it's really too bad, since the pool provides such a great workout if you use it for such. At some point during my childhood summers spent in California pools, though, the sentiment was firmly planted in my mind that pools are for play, not work!

We whipped out our underwater case for two of our recent pool visits; first for our ward party and then for our lazy summer afternoon at my friend Ashley's backyard pool.
Matt and I had a lot of fun at our ward's pool party--perhaps too much fun, as a matter of fact! See, we team teach the four- and five-year-olds in primary (like Sunday School for little kids). We had a blast splashing around in the pool with "our" kids, and they especially loved playing with Matt. I had already put the camera away by the time Matt got into a crazy splashing/noodle fountain shooting (you know how you do that with noodles?) water fight that pitted every primary child (and maybe myself) against Brother D. The kids were loving it, and Matt was acting like the biggest kid there! It was great.


Two days later, I taught sharing time for the senior primary and therefore left Matt alone for about twenty minutes. And when I came back to our classroom, it was all too obvious that the kids still remembered what a fun friend he was and had decided to treat him as such that day. Holy cow, it was pure mayhem in there! Clearly they saw class as a perfect time to continue Friday's party. The singing teacher had given each child cupcakes at the beginning of class, so there were cupcake crumbs all over the floor and chocolate frosting all over the kids' faces. Meanwhile, the kids who were now hopped up on sugar were hopping all over the room and just having a grand ol' time.

I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head as I brought the kids back down to earth and engaged them in a much quieter game and lesson. It was just another testament to me that I am indeed destined to become the "bad cop" in our marriage since my sweet Matt doesn't have the heart to stop any sort of fun!
Meanwhile, Ashley's parents' pool in Bakersfield provided a much more calm atmosphere. It is honestly the most beautiful backyard pool I have ever seen (check it out during her reception here). Ashley's parents were kind enough to take me and Matt in for a few weeks while we were "homeless" last year and we were more than a little spoiled. Their pool is bordered with real rocks, so this time we brought our snorkel gear to check them out. Between our pool snorkeling adventure, Ashley and her husband Brandon's company, and a delicious BBQ at her sister Tarin and Marc's house that night, it was a great day in Bakersfield!
Needless to say, I don't see my stance on pools changing anytime soon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Symphony at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Matt and I have a nice, long must-do list for our four-year stay in Southern California. Some of it is in a well-organized Word document and the other half is still in our heads, meaning to make its way to said file. Going to the symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles was near the top of our written must-do's, which therefore makes it pretty important. So when I came across an extremely rare 50% off discount for a symphony featuring Mozart and Stravinsky, we figured it was time to cross it off the list.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall was designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2003. Since then, it has been featured in numerous movies and television shows, including Iron Man, Get Smart and American Idol. More importantly, it has become the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has hosted countless symphonies and concerts of all types. The unique architecture makes the concert hall a distinguished feature of downtown and provides impressive acoustics inside. Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed both the setting and the beautiful music that evening.
During warm-up (pictures are most definitely not allowed during the performance):

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hanging out at Huntington Beach

According to our blog, we've spent a lot of our summer having a great time on the road. And that's true. But what you don't know is that we've also been having an incredible summer right here in Southern California! It's about time I blogged about all of that, don't you think?

Last Saturday produced the best LA beach weather of the season thus far, so we headed out to Huntington Beach with Jordan (Coley's boyfriend who was home on leave) and his little brothers (who comprise one-half of our favorite SoCal family).
... along with everyone else and their second cousin's best friend's neighbor's brother.
It took awhile, but eventually we found a little place to set up shop for the afternoon. We lathered up with our SPF of choice, cozied up with some good reads, and then made our way into the ocean.
Of course, a halftime break on land was necessary to practice our sand sculpting skills. Some, like our castle designs, still need some work. Others, such as our moats and studly merman, are coming along rather nicely.
After a little soccer game in the sand, we spent the rest of our time just playing in the waves. The beach is always more fun with friends!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

San Francisco: A Sunday Stroll and Fireworks over the Water

I absolutely love the 4th of July and all of the fun it brings, but I love the reason behind the holiday even more. My parents instilled a deep sense of patriotism in me at a very young age, and being a military wife has exemplified that even more. We live in such a complicated world and are truly so, so lucky to be Americans. I'm grateful for all of those who have given their lives--and for people like my husband who continue to dedicate their lives--to protect our freedom.

The highlight of our Independence Day celebrations was listening to patriotic music as we watched fireworks over the bay with a couple hundred thousand of our closest friends. But we'll get to that later in this post.
Since the 4th of July fell on a Sunday this year, we started the day off bright and early with 9:00 a.m. church. It was one of the most touching church meetings I've been to in a long time, and I loved starting off the holiday with beautiful hymns like "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee." The only downside (is there ever a downside to church?) was the surprise we had waiting for us in the parking lot:
Someone who was attending a later church meeting had parked directly behind us in the teeny-tiny parking lot. It took 21 minutes, lots of direction, and a very skilled 113-point turn by Talon to get out of that one without touching another car (although my legs may or may not have been gently pinned between the Scion and VW for a few seconds... better me than the car, right?). After lunch, we went on a nice, long Sunday walk through Golden Gate Park.
Golden Gate Park has lots of different areas within it, and their children's section is probably the coolest one of all. Just as we were admiring the cool climbing toys, we saw this sign and had a good laugh:
Isn't that the best? Apparently, the park has more adult-friendly options, like kite flying and lawn bowling. Yes, lawn bowling.
Aside from the various activities the park offers, it has various themed woods and gardens that are all so peaceful and pretty.
Matt and I spent the most time in the Japanese Tea Gardens. Everything was so beautiful and well-manicured, and the oriental theme provided such an interesting contrast to the rest of the park.
Following our Sunday stroll, we hopped back in the car and took the scenic route back to Tylee's, passing the famous Seven Sisters (better known as "the Full House house") on the way. Tylee's roommates hosted a gourmet BBQ that night and were kind enough to invite us to their feast in the backyard.
Then it was time for the main event, so we headed out to Fisherman's Wharf where the whole city seemed to be gathering for the fireworks.
Remember how uncharacteristically clear the San Francisco skies had been all weekend? We were crossing our fingers and toes that it would stay that way through Sunday night. Despite our best finger-crossing efforts, however, the fog rolled in just in time for the big show. But in the end, we were glad because it provided us with the unique San Francisco firework experience. You see, in the fog, you can't really see the actual fireworks--instead, it looks like clouds of color exploding in the sky, like so:
Happily for us, the fog wasn't too dense nor too low, so we got the best of both worlds: half the time we saw vibrant bursts of color, and the other half of the time we saw the real firework (or at least the bottom half of it). It was really neat!
The crowd scattered like ants at a picnic as soon as the fireworks ended. We made our way through the crowds, to the car, and finally to Tylee's flat, where we threw our last sleepover party of the weekend.
You know you have good friends when you can share a small bedroom four nights in a row and love every minute of it!
Monday morning came around all too fast and provided us with the true San Francisco fog for our grand exit. Isn't it lovely?
We think San Francisco is the most charming city in the world, and can't wait to visit again!
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